NBC's Notre Dame contract includes seven Irish home games and one prime-time neutral site game annually through 2015. "You could do [a series with Miami] ... plus do one home and home."
A quote from a post on Rock's House or Cartier Field? Nope. It's a quote from Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick.
Yesterday's Miami Herald had a story about a renewal of the Notre Dame/Miami football series, a brief but intense rivalry from the program's last period of prolonged excellence. According to Barry Jackson, UM AD Kirby Hocutt got on the phone with Swarbrick, who showed much interest, and the two will talk more in April.
This obviously is a great thing for the football program. ND was being boxed into a corner schedule-wise with excessive promises to outside entities. Between the 7-4-1 structure and three Big East games and an alleged "buy games" philosophy, it was looking like one-game-or-bust for fans wanting a quality opponent on the Irish sidelines instead of the multiple choice options a 4-4-4 strategy would bring. Instead, Swarbrick will use the neutral site games to augment a quality home-and-home contract rather than replace one.
The list of eye-opening moves by Swarbrick doesn't stop there. The wildest dreams of Irish hockey fans came true earlier this year when Notre Dame announced plans for a new ice arena. After years of meandering renovation plans for the current (and inadequate) facilities in the North Dome, Swarbrick talked to Jeff Jackson and other benefactors, and made the bold choice. According to folks on campus, he also recognizes the bass-ackwardness of the current renovation project and is putting together plans for the long-overdue practice facility for the basketball programs, to be built between the Joyce Center and the baseball field.
Sea change, indeed.
For the last eight years, ND's athletics leadership seemed to be stuck in neutral ... vast periods of ennui punctuated by poorly-handled coaching searches. Statements by the AD evoked cringes far more often than cheers.
Now we have action on plans, not never-ending plans of action. "Why not?" instead of "Why me?" Instead of focusing on "Sunday through Friday", we're looking to "position our program as one of the best in the nation".
We weren't sure what we were getting back in August when Jack Swarbrick took the reins. ND had passed on more experienced candidates like Steve Orsini to hire a lawyer from Indianapolis, and initially it smelled like another "don't rock the boat" hire. The moves so far, though, are very encouraging. While no one hits 100 percent of the notes, at least Swarbrick seems to be singing from the right hymnal.