Who’s No. 1 is always the ongoing question in college football at the start of the season and obviously at the end, when it really matters.
Notre Dame, despite its 11 national championships, has not been part of that conversation in January since 1988 when Irish Coach Lou Holtz capped a 12-0 season with a 34-21 win over West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.
In the BCS era–starting in 1998–the Irish’s highest ranking has been No. 3–twice– in 2002.
That could be changing this season as Brian Kelly, in his third year running the program–Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Holtz all won national championships in South Bend in their third season–apparently has the Irish in position to make, at the very least, a BCS run.
But what has slipped past us–and the rest of the country–is that ND is already back on Top. No. 1. Not on the football field–that will take some time, maybe lots of time. But in the bottom line stuff which drives the bus in college sports.
And while you can make an argument against it, it can’t be a very strong one when you look at the evidence.
Notre Dame is No. 1 in fan appeal, media attention and most importantly in this bottom line era, of revenue producing and marketing.
Consider the Irish’s latest deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference in which ND joins the ACC for almost all of its sports (hockey) other than football.
The ACC bent and acquiesced in allowing ND to join in all sports but football. It allowed ND to be part of its non-BCS bowl package,which is additional revenue. It will include ND as part of a 15 team basketball league, which will cause some scheduling problems.
It created headlines and stories everywhere in the country.
What did ND give up? Not much.
It must play five ACC teams a year–Wow.
Let’s look at ND’s schedule this season which includes Boston College (ACC) Pittsburgh (ACC next season), Wake Forest (ACC) and Miami (ACC). And that’s it.
It keeps its television money from its contract with NBC (no sharing). If it gets to a BCS bowl game it does not have to share its money with the ACC.
Oh, there are some small concessions the Irish appear to have made.
It dumped its series with Michigan to make room for more ACC competition.
But it still will play Southern California and Stanford every year, which gives its California exposure.
It will play Navy every year, which almost guarantees a win every year and gives it East Coast exposure–along with its ACC games.
It will still play Big Ten teams, which keeps it in the Midwest market.
If anyone in the ACC thinks that the Irish will get tired of life as an independent, think again.
The Big East thought the same thing in 1996 when the Irish made virtually the same deal.
The television ratings for ND-Michigan last week was a 4.0, which is an off the charts number in this age of 25 to 30 college football games available each Saturday.
NBC, which is so desperate for college football programing that it may over bid for Broadcast rights for Big East football, is not about to let ND get away in its next television discussions.
More money for the Irish, which does not have to be shared with anyone.
Who’s No. 1?
Alabama, the SEC, USC?
Not even close.
Let’s see if newly “entrenched” Texas quarterback David Ash has game as the Longhorns begin a three-week stretch against Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Oklahoma. Ash comes into Saturday’s game against Ok State with 7 TD passes, 0 picks and a 76 percent completion ratio. If the numbers are anything close to that in three weeks and Texas is still unbeaten, the Longhorns could be headed to Miami in January…Battle of QB’s in Morgantown on Saturday when Baylor takes on West Virginia. You have obviously heard of the Mountaineers’ Geno Smith, who is a Heisman contender, if not the favorite But what about Baylor, which gives us Nick Florence (11 TDs, 4 interceptions…Georgia is picking up support as the SEC “sleeper” aka any team not named LSU or Alabama. Here’s the scary part about the Dawgs. They have scored 40 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time in school history, including an impressive pounding of Vanderbilt last week. But here’s the scary part. Two of their best defensive players, linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo are coming off suspensions and will play against Tennessee on Saturday. We will see just how improved Oregon State or Arizona is this week when they meet in Tucson on Saturday night. The winner will unofficially become the Pac 12′s Watch Out team behind the big boys of USC, Stanford and Oregon…Ohio State at Michigan State looked like a big deal in August. Not so much since both the Buckeyes and the Spartans look to be slightly above average at best. Still, ESPN’s Game Day will be in East Lansing, so it must be a big game right?
Stanford, coming off a bye-week after its emotional win over USC, must deal with Washington in Seattle. Key for the Cardinal will be to see how QB Josh Nunes, making his first career start on the road, handles the added scrutiny that comes with being a ranked team…Big 12 football in Morgantown? Who would have predicted that. Yet, the Mountaineers will handle their conference debut against Baylor with the above-mentioned battle of the QBs. Anyone seen Boise State. The Broncos haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in two of their last three games. If that trend continues against New Mexico, Boise’s switch to the Big East next season might have to be downgraded. Considering that New Mexico has lost its last 13 games to ranked teams, dating back to 2003, things should be back to normal by Sunday morning. South Carolina, like Georgia, is another “sleeper” team in the SEC. Playing Kentucky on Saturday will not tarnish the Gameocks’ image. LSU vs Towson? Really….TCU vs. SMU is very close to being upgraded to a Big Boys football meeting. TCU is in its first year in the Big 12 and SMU comes into the Big East next season. SMU (Dallas) vs TCU (Fort Worth) used to be a big deal in the old SWC days. Don’t expect much of a contest since TCU looks mean and nasty and SMU has already been blown out by Baylor and Texas A&M as the Mustangs go through their SWC revival tour…Nebraska vs. Wisconsin is the Big Ten “Game of the Week” I guess, but it’s not even close and a Top 10 ranking isn’t even close for either team. Nebraska is No. 22 while Wisconsin is unranked….Conference USA revival between Louisville and Southern Miss. That changed when the Ville switched to the Big East. And while Louisville is unbeaten and ranked No. 19, the buzz in the Bluegrass State is all hoops, with the Ville, Kentucky and Indiana flirting with Top 3 (that would be in the country) rankings. Tobacco Road as the hoops capitol indeed.
© Copyright 2012 Mark, All rights Reserved. Written For: A Jersey Guy