Notre Dame, IN (UHND) – Last summer Alabama head coach Nick Saban created a little buzz when he told local reporters that he would love to get the Fighting Irish on the schedule of the Crimson Tide. The notion was dismissed a few days later, but the idea of the two college football giants meeting on the field for the first time since 1987 hasn’t died and should an agreement to play materialize, the real winners will be the fans of both schools.
When John Heisler told Alabama Live that, “Those commitments will give us more home-and-home games than we know what to do with. It doesn’t have anything to do with (not wanting to play) Alabama,” he was of course referring to Notre Dame’s agreement to play three Big East teams a year starting in 2011.
What if a potential Notre Dame and Alabama series didn’t have to be a home-and-home though? Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal Constitution asked himself the same question and came up with a pretty interesting workaround for such a series. Barnhart proposed to the two schools play neutral site games at both the Georgia Dome and the new Lucas Oil Dome in Indianapolis.
Barnhart’s proposal is of course such speculation for now, but if the two schools really do indeed want to play each other, then why not work something out like Barnhart suggests and make it happen?
Kevin White’s “Barnstorming” plan has come under fire because the teams he has lined up have not exactly lived up to the legacy of Knute Rockne’s original Barnstorming days. To date White has lined up a contest with Washington State at the Alamo Dome next season and another with Arizona State at the new Dallas Stadium in 2013. Hardly the marquee matchups Notre Dame fans envisioned when White announced his plan three years ago.
Well, wouldn’t neutral site games between the Irish and Tide fit the bill of ?barnstorming?? It certainly would. With Nick Saban on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, most feel its of when, not if, Alabama returns among the nation’s elite and the Tide’s second year coach is certainly recruiting as though that is the case.
The likely problem with such a situation would be that Notre Dame would likely be considered the “home” team in only one of the two games. Part of White’s plan is to get each neutral site game a “home” game for the Irish to enjoy the television revenues as part of the NBC deal. Is the point of White’s plan to just drum up revenue for the University or to give the fans potentially exciting games to watch?
If the only point to “barnstorming” is to generate the most revenue possible, then a neutral site game against Alabama in which the Irish are considered the road team makes little sense. If that is the case though, then is what White is trying to accomplish actually barnstorming? Absolutely not.
Rockne traveled his team around the country and played the best of the best in order to put Notre Dame on the map. While playing games in Texas such as the ones White has scheduled are nice to see considering the lack of success Charlie Weis and staff has had pulling recruits out of the Lone Star State, but the opponents White has lined up are hardly going to impress said recruits all that much.
Granted, all of this is assuming that Alabama truly wants to schedule Notre Dame and this isn’t just a case of Saban telling the Tide fans what they want to hear. Remember, there was a home and home with Alabama scheduled recently which Alabama asked out of due to their probation problems.
Still, a game between Alabama and Notre Dame would not just be a big game for both schools, it would be one of the marquee out of conference games of the entire college football season considering its been over 20 years since these two traditional powerhouses have met on the gridiron.
In the end, the real winners in such a proposed series would be the fans. The fans of both schools would be lining up in droves for tickets to such games and the ratings would be through the roof across the country. Seems like a win-win for everyone involved to me.