All that said, every one of the big conferences will fall all over themselves to woo the Irish. People still buy into the mystique. Forget the fact that Michael Floyd, Notre Dame’s best player, was on the field Saturday after his third alcohol-related offense in less than two years this past spring — a DWI. Coach Brian Kelly “suspended” him from spring ball, certainly a stern message on the evils of drinking.
Bottom line is the bottom line: Notre Dame is still a huge money-maker and if it feels it needs to be one of the new Super-64 it will find a home anywhere it wants one.
On the field, there weren’t many surprises, as most of the power schools opened their seasons with walkover games best summed up by Indiana State Coach Trent Miles, who called his team’s 41-7 loss at Penn State a “win-win.” The Nittany Lions got a guaranteed victory and his school got a guaranteed check for almost $500,000. Other than LSU-Oregon, the only other game of note was Boise State’s easy 35-21 victory over Georgia in Atlanta. One wonders when Ohio State President Gordon Gee is going to get on the phone and start up that home-and-home series with Boise. Any minute now, no doubt.
Thankfully, there was also a reminder that, while you may not be able to count on which school will be playing in which conference a year from now, you can ALWAYS count on Duke. Here’s all you need to know: Since Steve Spurrier left in 1989, the school has had more winless seasons (four) than winning seasons (one—and that was in 1994). Saturday, Duke opened with a 23-21 loss to Richmond of the Football Championship Subdivision, aided by a missed 28-yard field goal with 1 minute 43 seconds left in the game.
In a college football world gone mad, it is good to know there are some things you can count on: the NCAA letting cheaters off the hook, conference commissioners speaking in gibberish, and Duke being awful.
And so, as the season heats up and memories of Ohio State-Akron, Florida-Florida Atlantic and Alabama-Kent State mercifully recede, off-the-field events will continue to dominate the football discussions around the country. Which conference will get raided next? Which commissioner will end up with the most power and money? What happens to ESPN’s Texas Network and its 11 subscribers if Texas ends up in the new Pac-16? Will there EVER be a playoff to decide a true national champion?
Oh wait, that’s a FOOTBALL question. There’s really no time to get into that. Not with “consolidation” looming on the western horizon.
For more from the author, check out his blog at feinsteinonthebrink.com.