Blog Entry

Picking the independents

Posted on: June 9, 2009 9:19 am
Edited on: June 9, 2009 4:21 pm

When senior citizens complain, they tend to whine about wanting their juice, maybe turning up the heat, or, for gosh sakes, somebody find the remote. Jeopardy's on. 

Joe Paterno is one of those senior citizens. He also tends to whine. Recently he chose the Big Ten as his target. Late in life other 82-year-olds want their favorite chair, pillow or blanket. The Penn State coach prefers Big Ten expansion. Syracuse, Rutgers and Pittsburgh are his favorites. Pretty much anyone but Notre Dame.

The fact that no one of consequence even commented on JoePa's ramblings confirmed that they were just that -- ramblings. Paterno might want it his way but he's got it all wrong.

The only way Big Ten expansion works is if Notre Dame is the pick. Ten years ago, the conference (Big 11, really) walked down the aisle hand-in-hand with ND. A marriage seemed imminent. Then the engagement was abruptly broken off when the Notre Dame's board of trustees reiterated its preference to stay independent.

Since then, the former lovers' prospects have dimmed. Big Ten football has regressed recently. Despite two BCS bowls this decade, Notre Dame has seen some of its darkest days since its last appearance in 2006. Coach Charlie Weis' job hangs by a thread. He is the program's fifth coach since '96. The last national championship was 21 years ago.

Still, ND retains favored status in the BCS. The public at large didn't know about ND's almost special dispensation when it came to the BCS. It had arguably the easiest entry into a major bowl -- basically win nine and finish in the top 12.

 Notre Dame also happened to keep all the bowl money itself (minus expenses, of course). Why join a conference? It gets $4.5 million for playing in a BCS bowl. Even in years when ND doesn't go to the BCS bowl, it receives a $1.4 million check just for participating in the system. The deal with NBC pays it another $8 million per year. At least. 

That's why Notre Dame is the only school that makes sense for Big Ten expansion. The conference could use the money. Notre Dame is a ratings winner whether it is 7-1 or 1-7. People watch the same way they watch dogs fighting in the middle of the street.

It interests us.

It's easy to see why the trustees want to stay independent. Why split all that money 12 ways? Of course, if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten it could dictate some favorable terms. For example, it is assumed the school wouldn't be sharing any of that NBC money.

You can also see why Notre Dame expansion makes sense to the Big Ten. Adding the Irish would boost the Big Ten's TV ratings, its bowl coffers (at some point) and its profile. Think how the fledgling Big Ten Network could benefit. There would be a central location to catch up on everything Notre Dame.

Big Ten expansion into South Bend would be easier on both ends to recruiters. For existing Big Ten coaches who could tell prospects, "Come play against Notre Dame," and for Notre Dame which could tell prospects, "Come win the Big Ten."

None of this is going to happen soon. Commissioner Jim Delany recently called Big Ten expansion a "back burner issue." While the conference's football prospects might be down, things are always cyclical in college football. Notre Dame, as you will read below, is expected by some to get back to a BCS bowl this season.

For now, a 12-team Big Ten with Notre Dame is a conversation piece. It might never happen. The economy might worsen and it might be inevitable. There is one thing conclusion when it comes to the subject:

Please don't listen to JoePa.

Picking the independents...

1. Notre Dame -- It's all in place -- the schedule, the front-line talent, the network, the hype. Forget all that. ND goes nowhere this season unless Jimmy Clausen makes the next logical step in his progression. The junior improved last season adding 18 pounds and throwing for 25 touchdowns. It all came together in the bowl game when his only four incompletions against Hawaii were drops. With better protection, a better running game, better receivers and a better outlook, Clausen should begin to fulfill the promise he brought to South Bend three years ago. Whether it's enough to save Charlie Weis' job is another issue. It's BCS bowl or bust for The Big Guy. Weis will ride as far as Clausen can take him. The kid will benefit from the return of four starters on the offensive line. Experts have fallen in love with receivers Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. The running game (No. 100 nationally) has to get better with the arrival of freshman Cierre Wood. Clausen can give Wood a few pointers on how to approach that freshman season. The quarterback had his ego knocked back to The Stone Age in 2007-2008. But, seemingly, Clausen has lived and learned. With his body still intact from all those sacks, Clausen should thrive. But will it be enough to win at least nine games?

2. Navy -- It was hard to place Navy second behind ND. If everything goes right for the Middies, they could be the best of the independents. They won one more than Notre Dame last season. The last two seasons they've been competitive with Notre Dame which is important after four decades of losses. The prospects are bright for '09. In his first full season as head coach, Ken Niumatalolo won eight games, a sixth consecutive Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and got Navy to a bowl. The best thing to happen to Navy, in a weird way, might have been an injury to dangerous quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. That allowed budding talent Ricky Dobbs to start four games in '08. Dobbs wants to be president someday (after his Navy commitment, of course). His moves could make the triple option even more dangerous. The front seven is the strength of the defense. Remember that you read it here first -- in June: Look out Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Navy visits both in the first three weeks of the season. Dobbs and the option are coming.

3. Army -- Good things are being said and written about new coach Rich Ellerson. If he can transfer his magic to this run-down program, then ... well let's wait and see. There have been 12 consecutive losing seasons. The Army brass has made bad decision after bad decision. There is no reason that the Black Knights shouldn't at least be on a par with Air Force and Navy, but somehow Army has sunk to the depths of Division I-A. Ellerson comes from I-AA Cal Poly bringing the triple option on offense and double-eagle flex formation on defense (think Arizona's "Desert Swarm"). Army won't go to a bowl but it needs to build enough momentum to give Navy a game on Dec. 12.



Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2009 6:57 pm

Picking the independents


You just won my vote for making the most sense on this whole page.

Nice job.

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: June 10, 2009 2:16 pm

Picking the independents

Of course they would do a Big Ten Championship game if they add a 12th team. And ND will not get to face Army or Hawaii either, most likely Ohio St.  Would have to break up the conference, perhaps
Big Ten East     &
nbsp;  Big Ten West
OSU     &n
bsp;     &
  Penn St.
Michigan    &nb
sp;     &n
bsp;  Notre Dame
Mich. St.     &n
bsp;     &
nbsp; Wisconsin
;     &nbs
p;    Illinois
;   Minnesota

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2009 1:47 pm

Picking the independents

Uhm, you need to check yourself before you go spouting off on ND's SOS.  Here are ND's final SOS from what I could find since 2000

00 - 28
01 - 17
02 - 15
03 - 7
04 - 20
05 - 7
06 - 20
07 - 21
08 - 45

There are 3 seasons in the last 9 that are Top 15, and all but 2 in the Top 25.  Also SOS is interesting because many times the Top 25 has several lower tier schools in it because they have to schedule big name teams to make some money.  If you want to say that ND is a bad team, that's fine, but they play a tough schedule every year.  In some years, the SOS falls because the schedule is made so far in advance.  5 years ago when they scheduled the 08 season, I am sure people thought that Michigan would be a huge game.

I don't care if you don't like ND.  I don't care if you think they suck.  But looking at the facts, they play a tough schedule every year.  Despite hating Southern Cal more than anything, as an objective fan I can admit that they put together a tough non-conference schedule consistently...UVa, OSU, ND in 2008...that's pretty tough.

Playing in a major conference actually boosts SOS artificially.  Think about it...if a team needs to be .500 or better to make a bowl game and most major conferences have tie ins for more than half their teams, it means on average that more than half the teams finish .500 or better.  The only way that is possible, since conference games even out to exactly .500 for the conference as a whole, is by teams scheduling easy wins in non-conference, boosting wins in the conference and thus inflating SOS when conference teams play each other.

Since: Apr 2, 2008
Posted on: June 10, 2009 1:24 pm

Whay conference title games are bad!

The only thing that a championship game can do is keep a team out of the BCS title game and cost your conference allot of money. Do you really need to see a 3 loss team take on a BCS title team in a conference championship? Is it worth the risk to lose a spot in the BCS title game. Let me rephrase that is it worth the 14.5 million payday loss to your conference for a BIG12 championship game? What if Bradford broke his arm and Oklahoma lost. They would have lost the right to play in the BCS title game and what Missouri would be in the BCS game! I know that ABC or most people didn't want that. If the two teams are undefeated and they didn't play would you do it? In the big ten I can only think of once in past 20 years when two undefeated teams didn't play in the big ten (Iowa and OSU 2002) If you have two undefeated teams from the same conference you get two BCS games. Also say there are 4 1 loss teams in the nation and 1 undefeated. Say you have a 1 loss team rank fifth play say the undefeated team in the conference championship and the one loss team wins. There are 3 teams ahead of the 5 Th ranked team and will probably not get the BCS title game. There may be some small chance that the championship game will put someone in the bcs title game but the risk is much more then the gain. If you ask coaches there is little to gain and allot to loose (sorry Joe pa.)

Since: Mar 7, 2009
Posted on: June 10, 2009 12:49 pm

Picking the independents

"can I get a 'whoop whoop'?!"


Unless PSU can get at least 2 games against the North division each year, preferably 3.  5 in-division, 3 north division, 4 OOC.  That would work for me.

Since: Mar 7, 2009
Posted on: June 10, 2009 12:44 pm

Picking the independents

As you can tell, I'm a PSU alum.  Take that as you like.

Yup, the previous commentors hit the high points-

* ND has turned down the Big Ten before, and will continue to do so.
* Delany is pretty much the biggest idiot in CFB.
* Does Dodd really think that ALL Big Ten coaches should comment on EVERY single thing JoePa says?
* At least in the previous articles about JoePa's expansion ideas, people commented on the choices and offered up some reasonable ones.  Not the fantasy that is ND (see point 1).
* I am slightly surprised Dodd didn't accuse JoePa of wearing Depends.  Seriously Dodd, I think you have some issues concering JoePa.
* Your article title is nonsense- you talk about Big Ten/ND for 3/4 of the article, then discuss ND/Navy/Army's programs.  Unless typing 1,2,3 is considering picking.  What exactly did you pick?

I finally got annoyed enough to actually comment.  I feel ashamed.

Since: Apr 23, 2009
Posted on: June 10, 2009 12:34 pm

Picking the independents

BIG 10 NORTH:  Ohio St. - Michigan - Michigan St. - Illinois - Wisconsin - Minnesota
BIG 10 SOUTH:  Penn St. - Notre Dame - Northwestern - Iowa - Indiana - Purdue

talk about huge money and putting the Big 10 back on the map...can I get a 'whoop whoop'?!

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: June 10, 2009 12:03 pm

Picking the independents

JoePa was right.  Why wait around for Notre Dame.  Obviously, they had their move onto other schools.  Notre Dame makes too much money with NBC to join the Big 10.  Not sure what the other Big 10 coaches think about expansion, but if they really want it to happen they need to step up just as JoePa has.  Paterno is never afraid to speak his mind.....maybe some of the other coaches in the conference should do the same. 

Since: Dec 11, 2007
Posted on: June 10, 2009 11:42 am

Picking the independents

There is absolutely no reason for Notre Dame to join the Big Ten. We definetly don't need the Big Ten Network as long as there is NBC. Let's go Irish

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: June 10, 2009 10:53 am

Picking the independents

How do you "Pick" in a division with no winner? Stupid ...

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