As I noted in a previous blog, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was kind enough to give me 15 minutes of his time earlier this week for a telephone interview about the Irish’s relationship with fellow football independent BYU.
Of course, the Cougars and Fighting Irish clash on the football field today at 1:30 p.m. MST.
The biggest storyline before the game is the weather. Snow showers are expected in South Bend today, temperatures could dip into the teens, and there will be 15-20 mph winds.
So dress warmly if you are going to the game.
Anyway, here’s more from my Q&A with Swarbrick about BYU:
On how Notre Dame feels about its relationship with BYU:
"Well certainly there is [a relationship], absolutely. From our perspective, it is due to a couple of things.
Number one is, we are like institutions. Both are faith-based, both very much value students in their approach in the academy and to athletics.
So there is a natural affinity, given our approaches to all of that that creates a sort of kinship.
Then the other thing, I would say, is the notion of independence in football, understanding both the challenges and opportunities of that, and wanting to be a good partner to anybody else who chooses to go that route."
On how BYU’s emulation of Notre Dame resonates in South Bend:
"Oh certainly, your ability to contend or succeed with an independent football model in collegiate athletics today depends upon having some of the assets that BYU has. One of them is you have to be able to articulate a basis for doing it. It has to be something like a faith affiliation, like the fact that you are a military academy, in some cases.
You have got a national reason to be independent. It is a really hard row to hoe if you are not, so you have got to have a sort of core motivating factor, and I think they do, because of their religious affiliation.
You have to have a very robust media platform, and clearly they do. So they have the assets. And when you have the assets, if you think it makes sense for you, Notre Dame’s view is, ‘that’s great — more power to you. We hope you succeed.’"
On Notre Dame’s access to the College Football Playoff coming next year and both schools’ bowl futures:
"Relative to the games controlled by the BCS, Notre Dame and BYU have exactly the same access now. Notre Dame doesn’t have any preference in that system. So we are in the exact same boat. Beyond that, it was a function of what each of us was able to arrange on our own. So part of our scheduling agreement with the ACC gives us access to the ACC bowl package.
And then we have an independent agreement with the Orange Bowl.
So that is how we have addressed ours. I know BYU has announced a number of things it is doing in that regard, so our access is identical at the BCS level, relative to going to one of those games. The selection committee will make those decisions, and we will both be evaluated by the same people applying the same criteria. Below that, or in games other than that, it is up to the schools to come up with a plan."
On whether an upper division is coming to major college football, as some suggested this past summer:
"Probably not. I think you are going to see stability in conference makeup for a decade or so, largely because of the outcome of what just happened. So between the creation of conference-owned broadcast networks, school transfers and the grant of rights to conferences, the entry into 13-year national broadcasting agreements, movement will be incredibly complex and expensive for anybody in those five conferences. So amongst those five conferences, I don’t think you will see much movement. So if it doesn’t happen at that level, I don’t think there will be a lot.
The chance of it being a byproduct of the NCAA reform, which is currently ongoing, there is no momentum for it right now. The general sentiment is not to create a new division, but to work within the existing structure, making fundamental changes to some of the rules for voting and what can be decided and where, but not to create another division.
So notwithstanding a sort of base business case for doing it, I don’t think there is a likelihood of it now, because of those other dynamics."
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