BYU fans are well aware that having Notre Dame on the Cougars’ football schedule was a linchpin of their move to independence. Heck, part of BYU’s big announcement back on Sept. 1, 2010, when it went rogue in football included news that it has signed a six-game agreement to play Notre Dame through the 2020 season.
So what about Notre Dame? What do school officials in South Bend think of BYU? Is is a mutual admiration society, or would the Irish downplay the relationship?
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick granted me a telephone interview earlier this week, and I used much of what he had to say about BYU in this front-page sports story in Friday’s Tribune.
Chiefly, with the Cougars in South Bend this weekend to play the second of the six-game series, I was interested in learning whether or not Notre Dame plans on playing the remaining four games on the contract. Swarbrick didn’t hesitate to say it does, calling that a priority.
"It is impossible for me to look further than the next three years," he said. "So that is what we are trying to manage against right now. But certainly our interest long-term is to find ways to continue to play BYU. I am hopeful we can do that.
Quite literally, I have some years where we have 15 or 16 games, if you will, under contract, if you include the ACC commitment with the deals we previously had. So we are just working our way through that.
Monday, when I began working on the article, I asked BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall if there was any fear on the Cougars’ part that the remaining four games were in danger of being canceled.
"Not on our part, and I trust them to keep their agreement," Mendenhall said.
I asked Swarbrick what he remembers about BYU’s research in 2010 when it was thinking about going independent.
"I certainly remember conversations with BYU," he said. "I just don’t remember [which side initiated them]. What I do remember is a couple of conversations where we talked about the challenges and opportunities of being independent. BYU was gathering information, and we talked at least a couple of times during that period of time.
I just don’t remember if scheduling was a part of that. I just don’t remember."
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