Rutgers Decides To Ignore The Echos

By Richard Kent
Updated: April 28, 2008

CONNECTICUT — Hats off to Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy. Plain and simple, he said no. He would not succumb to the demands of Notre Dame in a proposed six-game football series.

None of the games would be at Rutgers Stadium, a brand spanking new facility that the school has poured over 100 million into over the last few years. Rutgers had fought for that stadium and earned it with bowl games (including two wins) in the last three years.

The Irish last won a bowl game in 1993. Players entering both schools this season were three years old at the time. Mulcahy gets most of the credit, but throw in Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. He was not behind playing the deal offered by Notre Dame.

The University of Connecticut will be playing Notre Dame seven times beginning in 2007, however none of the games will be played in the state of Connecticut. That is tough to believe, but true.

It must be acknowledged that Rutgers and Connecticut are at different stages of football growth. Sure UConn tied for the Big East Championship last year, but they got blown out by West Virginia and lost their bowl game.

They are bringing in decent recruits, but not recruits at the level of Rutgers or Notre Dame. As a matter of fact, Rutgers’ freshman class is more at the level of Notre Dame than UConn.

UConn does have a great head coach in Randy Edsall, but not the selling power in States like New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. That is why UConn needs Notre Dame and the national perception of playing them.

Rutgers does not. The Scarlet Knightsa just signed one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Tom Savage out of Pennsylvania. UConn was not even in the picture. Penn State was as were Georgia and Tennessee.

Notre Dame was 3-9 last year, so just where is their bargaining power? They started 0-5 and even lost to Navy, whom they had beaten 43 straight times.

Notre Dame was beaten 41-9 in the Fiesta Bowl by Oregon State in 2001. That is emblematic of their bowl futility in recent years. The Golden Domers had their lowest TV ratings on NBC in 17 years last year.

Their contract with NBC is up in 2010. Will it be renewed? Not if Notre Dame continues at this rate under Charlie Weis. But there is another issue — the Big East Conference.

Notre Dame is a member of the Big East in all sports, but football. They get the benefit of Big East teams like Connecticut, Georgetown and Pittsburgh in men’s basketball as well as UConn, Rutgers and Louisville in women’s basketball and Rutgers in baseball.

Yet they can dictate when and where they will play a Big East team in football. If their football fortunes plummet even more you’d better believe that they will join the Big Ten and not the Big East if such membership included playing football.

They are better situated geographically to play Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in football. Notre Dame wants it all including the benefit of playing in the Big East.

Not to mention, the right to play UConn at neutral stadiums on the road to help their recruiting. However, Rutgers wouldn’t capitulate and congrads to them.

More should do the same.