The independent voice of Notre Dame Athletics

  • The Double-Edged Sword

    by Mike Coffey

    The spoils do indeed go to the winner, and with Notre Dame off to its best start since 1993 (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of a 2002 season), said spoils are starting to roll in. The inexorable move up the polls continues. Hypotheses on quality bowl destinations abound. Everyone’s playing the what-if game to determine the likelihood of an undefeated season. The national punditry is entrenched quite firmly in the “ND is back” section of the Vicious Circle of the ND Football Life Cycle. And all the attention is bringing ESPN Gameday and its associated pageantry and benefits to campus on Saturday for the tilt against the #17 Stanford Cardinal.

    But you can’t have good without the bad. Tickets suddenly become a tougher get, even with the expanded capacity of Notre Dame Stadium. The national punditry is champing at the bit to move to the “ND sold its soul” section of the Vicious Circle of the ND Football Life Cycle. And all the attention is bringing ESPN Gameday and its associated idiocy and white noise to campus on Saturday for the tilt against the #17 Stanford Cardinal.

    ESPN certainly is the big fish in the sports pond, and thanks to their domination of the broadcast rights market and increasing influence in the pool of potential talent, nowhere is their influence felt more strongly than in college athletics. As Notre Dame basketball discovered in the 1990s, if it’s not happening on ESPN in college sports, it ain’t happening. People watch the games, recaps, and talking head reviews relentlessly, and the network folks know how to make the market work for them. The station ensures the attention (and dollars) of impressionable youth by sending a traveling bread-and-circus of a talking head, a knowledgeable former player, an idiot former player, and a stroke victim who likes to wear fake heads. Only in America.

    As superficially entertaining as Gameday is, and with a complete cop to the good things that attention can bring, I think the concept is bad for sports in general, and awful for college sports in particular.

    Back in the day, there used to be a saying: What’s good for GM is good for America. The theory was GM employed so many people and brought so much money into the GDP that if they made a good decision for them, enough Americans benefited that the hoi polloi shouldn’t worry about the oversight and should let GM call the shots. Recently, that concept has bled into college sports, with the philosophy saying if you can use ESPN to benefit you, forget the cost because it’s worth it. So we have colleges playing football games on Wednesday and Monday nights, and traveling and playing at all hours, all to try and reap the benefits (financial and otherwise) yielded by some television time on basic cable. The coaches and administrators kowtow to the Businessmen of Bristol, and everyone (allegedly) wins.

    Well, not everyone. The student athletes don’t. The people paying exorbitant cable fees don’t. The fans driving home from a football game late on a Wednesday night don’t. The fans watching ever-lengthening television timeouts don’t. The yang is getting smacked around by the ying.

    And let’s observe the slippery slope here. If ESPN is to keep those benefits flowing to teams and conferences and bowls, it has its own masters to serve via advertising dollars and talent salaries. They don’t have a money tree any more than the rest of us do. So if they know a certain bowl match-up will be more beneficial to them … say, a match-up between two teams whose broadcast rights they carry and who they can advertise to instead of one involving a team that doesn’t play their financial game … what stops them from attempting to puppet-master that result? If a player in their Under Armour game is considering a school in their harem and one that is not, why can’t their increasingly-influential rankings and reportings be influenced to steer that recruit to their concubine, or to a concubine they favor over one they do not? After all, it’s good for ESPN, so….

    That’s why the Gameday madness of both varieties do little for me. Sure, at a basic level, folks (not me — hopefully I’ll be at the game) will like seeing the library and “The Word Of Life” in the background this week. There’s no doubt there will be peripheral benefit to ND with the exposure, and we may as well use it. But I can’t help but feel we’re feeding a beast more likely to bite us than not. We’re helping to perpetuate a market state that is bad for the game in general, and worse for us than for most. Worst yet, there’ll be ND fans acting like morons because a television camera is on them, and I expect better from ND fans because, dammit, we are better.

    I know there’s some good. I guess it just ain’t enough spoonful of sugar.

    70 Responses to “The Double-Edged Sword”

    1. Making an awfully big jump with this comment:

      “If a player in their Under Armour game is considering a school in their harem and one that is not, why can’t their increasingly-influential rankings and reportings be influenced to steer that recruit to their concubine, or to a concubine they favor over one they do not?”

      I suppose they could somehow find a way to influence someone’s decision making, but it seems unlikely that they’d be doing this. Certainly with this complaint coming from an ND writer (who has a team that is the ONLY team on their network which also has their own annual high school all star game), it just seems like a big jump to make without any proof.

      The United States COULD do a lot of things with its military. Just because something is capable of a certain action, doesn’t mean they’d actually do it.

      Articles like this make us look like a whiny fan base.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        If you talk to people who follow recruiting, they’ll tell you such a thing is not unheard-of. Recruits who commit early sometimes get their ratings downgraded because the recruiting services can’t make any hay off their decision-making processes.

      • ESPN has been downgrading ND recruits for the last 10-12 years when HS recruiting really went mainstream media. You have to ask why ESPN would invest any time or notoriety in a recruit that won’t be playing on any of their networks.

        Sure, recruit ranks are never really accurate, but when elite talent shows it’s elite (5 star HS athletes), there is denying their ability across the board.

        Example: ESPN 150 has Jaylon Smith ranked at 14. Scout, 247, Rivals, etc all have him in the top 5. There were examples in the past where certain players were ranked highly on ESPN then disappeared or downgraded once they showed medium or high interest and even committing to ND.

        ESPN is a vulture and trashes ND via media unless they see a way to benefit from them. Remember the Matt James incident, Declan Sullivan etc. These weren’t even current ND football players yet the negative news made the top story on ESPN football.

    2. Mike- I for one love to watch gameday, apparently a lot of other people also like to watch. Everytime a business hits a homerun some people have to try to tear it down, watching college football in the 70’s was horrible, tape delayed games if you didnt have a ticket…..If you dont like gameday fine, let the rest of us watch what we want……Other networks could of had the risk and gotten into college sports but didnt…I’m happy ESPN is here to provide a market that other companies wouldnt take the risk to pursue.

    3. This article really doesn’t make a lot of sense… It seems like complaining just for the sake of complaining about something…

      • Mike Coffey says:

        I don’t like the fact ND is somehow contributing to something that is bad for college athletics. I recognize there’ll be some tangential “benefits” with regards to perception from young folks, but I don’t think that’s worth the cost.

        • “I don’t like the fact ND is somehow contributing to something that is bad for college athletics.”

          But Mike, if you follow this thought to conclusion you’ll realize that we contribute to this almost every Saturday. We agree to line up vs the likes of Michigan, Miami, USC, and other schools who exploit their so-called student-athletes. Many others have in fact followed your logic here, voting to de-emphasize football and only play in the sandbox with our aspirational peers because all this unseemliness is beneath Notre Dame.

          But we all know that would be the wrong attitude to have. The better part of valor is to be the shining beacon. Be the school that proves to the rest of the sportsworld that you don’t need to exploit student-athletes to achieve success. Because if ND doesn’t fight the good fight then who will?

          Following THIS logic, hosting Gameday is a great thing. It can serve as another small reminder to the rest of the sportsworld that ND is a place that can be beautiful, virtuous, and (it’s okay to say it) fun.

      • I agree Paddy. These ND Nation writers arent hapy unless they are unhappy. I hate college gameday as much as anyone and actually boycotted all espn programming except games back in 2007, but why care this much about them? Mike – chill out and enjoy the ride. Forget about ESPN. You sound just like the college football fan that states ND is not relevant, and therebye keeps them relevant.

        • Mike Coffey says:

          If we don’t talk about it, how does anything change?

          I’m very much enjoying the ride, but I believe ESPN is antithetical to what college sports should be about. I’m rather happy they’re seldom on campus and wish ND would spend its energy supporting a competitor in an effort to limit ESPN’s influence.

      • I agree. We dont play on Wednesday, (I believe Thursday is when they actually have a game every week). Who cares if other schools play on a day other than Saturday once in a while anyway? This sounds like the arguments of why no playoff. “The fragile players will break if they play an extra game or two”, nonsense. As far as the Gameday hosts, Corso is goofy, Herbstreit is a knowedgeable anaylyst, and the show is fun. Im glad they are coming.

    4. george kaplan says:

      ESPN is The Devil. for years it’s played the anti-ND card as part of its regular programming, even to the point of hiring a gibbering bozo to impersonate a respected great ND coach. AND ABC collaborated in the Willingham shot at ND which we all know was part of his retirement program. ESPN is predictable, boring, tasteless, stupid, insalubrious, pussillanimous(purposely misspelled) and all kinds of other adjectives I can’t think of right now. Jack should not let those goons on campus.

    5. C’mon Mike is this a bit? Gameday is pure genuine awesomeness in a world of contrived BS. A celebration of college football at its finest. How can you not love Kirk and Lee and Chris?

      I am genuinely shocked by the animosity towards gameday here and on the board. Critics have accused “NDNation” of disliking college football in general. I thought that went to far. I wonder.

      Rapidly approaching “get off my lawn” territory around here

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Not all all. I think ESPN is terrible for college sports. They hold way too much sway over the marketplace, and if you don’t think they use that sway to their own ends … well, talk to folks who worked for them. It’s disturbing. They use stuff like Gameday to just spread that influence further and deeper.

        And using the phrase “contrived BS” as a contrast to Gameday isn’t the correct usage. There’s little more contrived than Gameday.

        It’s not a question of “get off my lawn”. It’s a question of wanting supremacy to be determined by games on the field and not guys in a conference room.

        • On the same token, ESPN can be credited heavily with college football’s explosion in popularity during the last 10-15 years. I don’t care for ESPN Sportscenter or its attempts to make the news rather than report it, but I love them for televising so many games now. Sure, that probably hurts ND’s ability to sell itself as the only team that is on TV every week, but I think its good for college football as a whole.

        • Mike,
          I am SURE the irony is not lost on any of us involved in/passionate about NOTRE DAME football lamenting the outside influences on college football/athletics.

          One could argue that Notre Dame football was created by the influences you bemoan and still benefits from them to this day. “Outlined against a blue gray sky…” The Heisman trophies (Paul Hornung over Jim Brown. Really?). The NBC contract. The Davie-Willingham-Weis era had no basis being on TV anywhere.

          You pine for a world that does not exist and I would argue never existed in the first place

          Gameday is fun. Gameday goes to the winners. Corso, Kirk, and Fowler have integrity and know college football.

      • “Gameday is pure genuine awesomeness in a world of contrived BS.” I’m curious what events unfolded in your earliest exposures to college football that led you to this perspective? I’m not being coy. Everything about Gameday is meant to be a caricature of college football – ESPN knows that. That’s not the disturbing part (I wouldn’t give ESPN credit for being Machiavellian in their approach) it’s that a lot of people (and sports writers) take ESPN seriously enough to make truly contrived preseason rankings that resonate throughout the season.

        It’s alumnus and fans (like the guys running and contributing to this board) that help to keep ND relevant in a rapidly evolving college football landscape. You may want to consider that before trying to convince ND fans that ESPN is what we should be thankful for.

      • We’re finally winning and yet such whining. Gameday is a party, so let’s celebrate this run the Irish are on.

        • Mike Coffey says:

          I’m not suggesting we don’t celebrate it. I’m saying there are better ways to do so.

    6. Mike,

      Some of the wisest and most insightful words I have ever read on an internet site. I too believe that ESPN has done more to harm sports in general and collegiate sports specifically. As a ND ’80 grad I grew up watching both professional and college basketball (as well as football). At this point I have no interest in professional basketball and only a casual interest in college games (occasionally when ND is playing). My disenchantment with the sport is directly related what I believe to be the degradation of the game caused by broadcasters overselling the “highlights” and underplaying the fundamentals of the game. It is my belief that ESPN glorifying and over hyping the dunks, the “street” ball, the trash talking has created an atmosphere where the game of basketball (as I knew it) is being or has been lost and replaced by a game of one-on-one with the other 4 guys standing around and watching.

      Similarly, in football you hear from the talking heads about how the “fundamentals” of tackling are being lost – is it a surprise to anyone that players aren’t using solid fundamentals to tackle when the only highlights shown on ESPN are the “big hits” where a receiver is knocked to the ground by a defender slamming into him with their shoulder and not wrapping up as they are taught. I watched a game the other day where I saw a running back bounce off 4 or 5 of those “so called” tackles and end up in the end zone. Again the commentator lamented how unsound the tackling was, but later that night on ESPN the highlights don’t show the great fundamentals only the “big hit”.

      The greatest frustration is the hypocrisy of what the “talking heads” (especially at ESPN) say compared to the highlights they promote. It is my belief that ESPN as an entity talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. I believe their primary goal is making money and they do that by attracting as many viewers as they can to their programs, so they can sell commercials and subscriber fees at the highest rate possible. I don’t begrudge them their right to make money, I just wish it didn’t have to be to the detriment of the sports I love.

      • The Piper says:

        There’s no question that they don’t focus on fundamentals…they focus on the “highlights”. And players make bad decisions to get themselves on highlights. But that’s what COACHING is for. A good coach teaches guys the fundamentals. Don’t blame ESPN (who I don’t even like). Blame the coach that doesn’t teach.

    7. The Piper says:

      My head hurts from trying to wrap myself around the thought process here…

      First, you can criticize College Gameday all you want, but it’s not Journalism. It’s ENTERTAINMENT. It’s goal is to attract viewers, not to educate. This isn’t Frontline, 60 Minutes, 20/20 or Nightline. And when they showed up in ’93 to campus for ND v FSU, everyone viewed it as further recognition that South Bend was the center of the CFB world. Let’s be fair, if they had been to ND more times than any other school, you wouldn’t be complaining. This “traveling bread and circus” isn’t pulling the wool over the eyes of America’s youth. It’s called fun. And most of America seems to enjoy it…except many of the old dogs on this board.

      Second, we are supposed to hate ESPN because ESPN saw there was big money in broadcasting / analysis / discussions of college sports? And they ruined it by broadcasting all these games and turning it into a big money event? So just being associated with ESPN in any way means we’ve “sold out”? This argument sounds like it was made in a vacuum. It’s hypocritical to acknowledge that much of what made ND Football famous is that we MARKETED the team:
      1) Having a head coach who basically spent WWII trying to find guys who could come play for ND.
      2) Getting our games broadcast nationally on radio before everyone else.
      3) Being the only team to do a weekly segment with Lindsay Nelson recap’ing games after Sunday morning (imagine if there were 40 of those programs from 40 different schools in 1965).
      4) ND broke away from the CFA in ’91 to sign with NBC. We didn’t get screwed. We essentially told everyone else to p*#s off and took our money.
      5) NBC broadcasts a high school AA game, that used to have players picked by Tom Lemming. It was called the Army AA Bowl…or as SEC fans called it – The Army Notre Dame Bowl because of the amt of overrated ND players picked for it. Sounds like your definition of the Under Armor game.

      So if we want to talk about capitalizing on the $$$ involved in college sports, let’s not point the finger at everyone else. I have absolutely no problem with any of Notre Dame’s decisions. We capitalized on our success. But let’s not turn around and point the finger at ESPN.

      Fact is that GameDay is about as meritocratic as you can get. If you win, they will come. If you don’t, they won’t. Unlike the rest of America’s sports franchises, ESPN didn’t need to kowtow to ND. They built one on their own. And they will treat us the same…if we win, they will come. If we don’t, they won’t.

    8. Atlantadomer says:

      Is this for real? I mean, you have to be kidding me. Our boys are 5-0 getting ready to play the ranked Cardinal, then BYU (trap game right there), then the Sooners in Norman… and you write a piece like we somehow own all intellectual rights to what is and is not good or fun about college football.

      First post I’ve seen like this (not a frequent visitor), but I guess the guys at EDSBS are right – lunatic fringe indeed.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Nothing I’ve written has anything to do with those things, and in no way detracts from them.

        ESPN is bad for college sports. I don’t like the fact they will be on ND’s campus and will benefit in any way from it.

        I plan on being in the Joyce Lot with my fellow ND fans as far away from those mopes as possible.

    9. Actually, this is literally a “get off my lawn” post. Hilarious.

      NDNation people need to relax and enjoy the 21st Century.

    10. Let me rephrase that: y’all need to learn to pick your battles. The helmets we wore last weekend? Keep fighting that good fight. College Gameday? You lost that battle 20 years ago. It’s fun. Enjoy fun.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        But doesn’t one beget the other? I’m sure the people who liked the helmets think we need to “relax and enjoy the 21st century” on that point.

        It’s all the same culture and taste … the Kardashianity of college sports.

        • I disagree; one doesn’t necessarily beget the other. Change is inevitable, evolve or die, etc. Just because one thing is flashy or new doesn’t mean all flashy and new things that follow are a result of that previous thing (you know, post hoc ergo propter hoc and whatnot). One needs to recognize which change is beneficial and which isn’t. Gameday is fun, informative (yes, Todd McShay occasionally does good work, and it’s almost always only on Gameday), and even does good profile pieces (see, e.g., the piece on Manti this past week). Almost everybody likes Gameday for a reason. The new helmets were hideous and weren’t even symmetrical.

          Look, I went to ND, so I know there is going to inevitably going to be a kneejerk reaction to any and every change made by not only the football program but also the university. And, of course, NDNation is going to be at the forefront of kneejerk reactions because, well, that’s what has come to be expected here from the NDNation hoi polloi. I just wish there was a little more self-awareness, and that everyone here recognized that the school and the football team cannot be run the same way it was in 1991, much less 1970. Times change, and so does football.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            I have no issue with change. But if a change is going to be made, the first thing I’m going to ask is “why”, because making change just for the hell of it is a waste of calories. If a change is made to correct a problem and it’s the best way to correct that problem, have at it. If a change is made because it’s someone’s preference or in response to a fad or other ephemeral quality, then I’ve got an issue with it.

            • The point is, College Gameday isn’t a fad. It’s generally beloved, with good reason. And it’s kind of embarrassingly unsurprising that NDNation is where you would go to have people complaining about it. If this were just some rando ND blog, I wouldn’t deign to comment about this post, but this is THE ND site on the internet. I’d prefer that not everybody think we as ND fans were collectively stuck in the late 80s. Opposing College Gameday is the worst example of this yet.

              Look, if you’re against the commercialization of amateur athletics, fine. That’s a completely reasonable position to take. But College Gameday is one of the best aspects of that commercialization. On campus the students are going to have more fun that morning than any other gameday they’ve been to yet. Let it lie, and relax.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              It goes beyond the commercialization of amateur athletics. Some commercialization is inevitable, and I can accept that. I find the ESPN version to be especially galling since it seems to be built on the entertainment part of their name and not the sports.

              I guess I fail to see what makes Gameday the “best aspect”. People acting like immature mopes on television while talking heads take positions just to rile people up doesn’t do much for me. I’m sure they think they’re having fun, but they look like idiots.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              In the same vein, as much as I despise the Big 10, I find the concept of the Big 10 Network to be good, and I hope other conferences and/or schools can put together something similar. The Internet is the great equalizer, and as the delivery method for video and information continues to merge, I’m hoping oversized entities like ESPN lose some of their mojo.

        • No, they’re not the same because one is directly within ND’s control and the other is not.

          What Jamie is saying is that you need to recite the Serenity Prayer and learn the wisdom to know the difference.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            Perhaps not, but perhaps if enough people felt the same way, some kind of action could be taken.

            • So, the guy that wrote a book and presumably profited off ND basketball is upset with the commercialization of amateur athletics? Makes perfect sense…

            • Mike Coffey says:

              I trust you can see the difference between an alumnus of the school writing a book about the program and an outside entity manipulating the sport to its own financial ends.

            • Yes Mike, I can process the difference between an alum making a profit and a corporation making a profit. I was just pointing out that ESPN is not the only entity out there that is turning profits off of ND’s name.
              I’m just not sure why you don’t think that ESPN should be making profits off college football or college sports in general… You realize that ESPN’s television contracts are what allows schools in non traditional power conferences to have resources that allow them to compete with the big boys? How is this a bad thing for college sports? I get that you are trying to say that ESPN is attempting to manipulate the BCS to fit its needs, I just don’t see that as being a realistic idea. Sure, they would want the most attractive matchup possible to garner the best ratings, they aren’t running a not for profit…
              Like I said previously, I’m no fan of ESPN’s talking head schtick and its attempts to make news rather than cover it. But, ESPN’s TV contracts are good for not only smaller conference football programs, but non revenue collegiate sports as well. College Gameday is one small piece of that and provides coverage of athletes, on a national level, that those athletes would never have been given in the past. I fail to understand how that is a bad thing.

    11. Good lord, the hypocrisy of an ND fan whining about the advantages that certain schools get from the “showbiz” of college football and from partnering with a television network. Seriously?

      If you have a website you’re entitled to share your opinions I guess, but sorry this particular opinion lacks perspective.

    12. Mike Honcho says:

      I’m not sure what’s more confusing about the responses to this piece – the fact that they’re so emotionally charged, or the fact that Mike Coffey is calmly stating his case in the comment threads and not getting many substantive responses. You don’t have to agree, but stop making the argument out to be something it’s not.

      Also, there’s a ton of room between “get off my lawn” and d-bag, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        But what if a d-bag tells you to get off his lawn?

      • The Piper says:

        I disagree. I think alot of the responses seem over the top because the original piece is over the top. It lacks perspective, a historical view, and a warped sense of the changes that take place over time.

        After reading this, I felt like a BC fan….one who says – “It’s not 1947 Notre Dame!”

    13. Agree on the general gist of this article, but it’s missing the acknowledgement that Notre Dame, in an indirect way, helped to create the ESPN monster when it signed it’s precedent-setting contract with NBC, eschewing it’s pre-established agreements for huge dollars. Beyond that, I agree that the beast has become too big, too influential and too monopolistic. I was shocked to hear that they were coming for Gameday, as I had assumed they would never again give credence to a program not on their network. It continues to shock me that no other players have given any effort to try to eat into their college sports marketshare. CBS and NBC have made paltry attempts with very little investment to date.

      • This idea that ESPN has some sort of vendetta against ND because of the NBC partnership is greatly exaggerated. ND’s road and bowl games still get plenty of attention on ESPN. A famous former coach is the co-host of their studio show. A famous former player is the co-host of their morning radio program. They know ND’s money is just as green as everybody else’s.

        But sure, if it’s a close call I could see them leaning towards a program they have a partnership with. But I think that is trivial – who cares where GameDay is hosted. Perhaps our new ACC partnership was another thaw in the ice that makes that bias a little bit less pronounced.

        Selfishly, I wish that NBC would do more to promote ND. Seems like the ND games are used as a promo for Sunday night football. I miss the halftime puff pieces they would do on ND players back in the days before the NFL contract.

      • The Piper says:

        They haven’t been here because we’ve been pretty average…not because we’re not on their network. This is the first time we’re not.

    14. blazelikeachampiontoday says:

      Dude, do you understand how much the rage factor goes up with Gameday there?

    15. Frank Johnson says:

      Notre Dame has its NBC contract and its Adidas alliance. Seems to me like all the trappings of commercialism go along with those alliances as well. ND home games are one long commercial masquerading as a football game, and ND will do whatever Adidas tells them to do.

      College GameDay averaged 1,720,000 households and 2,068,000 viewers each week in 2012. The market has spoken. GameDay is a resounding success. We’ve taken some deserved shots from ESPN over the years. Funny how now that we really appear like a top football team, they are going to treat us like one. What we need to do is take care of business against Stanford. That will enhance the GameDay exposure.

      Given that we’ve already “gone commercial” like every other college program, we need to use ESPN as our resource. They’re the king of the hill. It’s time we return to our rightful place on top of that hill as well. No better time to continue to establish that this Saturday, with a huge college football audience starting the day watching GameDay from Notre Dame.

      • I, for one, can’t wait to find Fowler at the Backer again and challenge him on his hatred of Notre Dame until he leaves with his cronies.

    16. There is a lot not to like about ESPN, but I agree with the comments above that ND has done everything it can to throw its own weight around for years, especially the CFA break away to NBC comments above.

      Has ND always had what’s good for all of college sports in mind? I don’t think so.

    17. Domer Dog says:

      I agree that ESPN ios not good for college sports. It would be good if there was more competition in that marketplace, but so far NBC and CBS have fallen on their faces and FOX hasn’t given it a chance. To say that ESPN doesn’t yield its influence to better itself and to the detriment of others is just not looking at the network with clarity.

      All you have to do is see how ESPN was formed and the impact it had on college basketball to show that. There were a number of terrific basketball schools in the 60′ and 70’s that were relegated to backporch status when ESPN was formed in conjunction with the Big East. ESPN certainly benefits by limiting their coverage to certain schools and the make it harder for the smaller schools to compete for recruits, and money, among other things. Schools like Holy Cross, Niagara, and St. Bonaventure were strong schools and in many cases had winning records against many of their Big East competitors. Within 5 years, most of the Big East schools wouldn’t even play them, let alone home and home.

      Personally, I think the impact on basketball is more than on football (as it relates to individual schools), because of the number of games played and the air time the schools get, but obviously football as a sport has benefitted tremendously. Has that benefitted the athletes. I don’t believe so. I am not one who believes in paying players, but the school does have a responsibility to make sure they can take care of themselves after graduation. I see far too many retired “stars” with no money and no hope of having a career. Sorry, but much of that is on ESPN’s back.

    18. You’re calling the kettle black. For the past 20 years, ND football marketing has been better than the product. Is cfb better that ND plays in a higher playing bowl due to market share rather than a team that deserves it? This occurred even in pre-ESPN days. I could go to provide more examples, but your premises could equally reach an outcome that ND is bad for college football.

      I enjoy cfb because of the underdogs and that every game matters. ESPN provides access to more games that I am fine paying for that privilege. ESPN is a by-product of the sensationalism of American society and its technological advances.

    19. Mike,

      Come on, really? I’m an ND Alum. But even in my love for our school and its football program, I can’t argue with the fact that we have used football to the school’s commercial advantage for decades. We’re the ONLY school in the country with it’s own exclusive major network! How is that any different? ESPN created a great, entertaining show. My 3 boys and I enjoy it every Saturday in the Fall.

      • Mike:

        A little harsh calling with the stroke victim. You may not have meant it in that fashion but it appeared to be a dig at the fact that ESPN continues to employ Corso after he had a stroke. He is still entertaining. Better to have said an ex-coach etc.

        The Irony is that the Beast MUST come to our home (a non-ESPN football power) because OUR national exposure dictates it. As much as the talking heads try to play down ND, when we play ND football, they can’t avoid the magnetic media pull to our campus. What other campus has as much as the iconic “Touchdown Jesus”? And I think the BIG GUY is smiling upstairs that HIS image is on national TV during a sporting event, JOHN 3-16 notwithstanding.

    20. I have spent a lot of time in the past decrying the state of College Football reporting, but mostly since Disney (ABC) purchased ESPN. While it is possible that the heavy monitization of college sports is antithetical to the ideal of scholastic athletics, that ship has sailed. College football is a saleable product that people want to buy.

      That means that it is monopoly that should worry us. And ESPN/ABC have a huge leap on everyone right now, but it won’t last forever. NBC and CBS both have footholds, and from what I have seen, Fox is starting to get into the game as well. Eventually, the power of the marketplace will mean that Disney can’t afford to control the market the way they currently do.

      So by all means, support the competition, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc. But this read just a little too rabidly. Most especially your last full paragraph. People acting like Morons? It’s people having fun, enjoying an entertainment. That comment is about as helpful to Notre Dame athletics as the people in the stadium who tell others to “sit down!” Notre Dame is better because of our tradition, our dedication to education, our faith. We have more than enough examples of that. Some of them, such as “pass right,” and the faith of Manti Te’o, have even been highlighted by ESPN. It is okay to have fun in the midst of that… and when the Gameday group comes to South Bend, the whole world will see it, up front, once again.

      And hey, if Corso does the smart thing and picks us, at least there is only a green leprechaun hat for him to wear. A little more dignity for the poor guy.

    21. Joe HUrley says:

      TO MH, above,

      Your comment about ESPN is a vulture and trashes ND via media unless they see a way to benefit from them. Remember the Matt James incident, Declan Sullivan etc. These weren’t even current ND football players yet the negative news made the top story on ESPN football.

      Declan Sullivan died because ND staff shirked their responsibility. He should have never been in that lift that day. Every coach on the field and administrative supervisor will carry that devistating shirk of responsibility in their hearts for the rest of their lives. Tragically, devastating accidents occur, but this was especially tragic because even the smallest amount of common sense (that a college degree doesn’t require) and a concern for the well being of a fellow student, worker, your fellow man, would have kept this senseless death from happening. Even Declan himself put too much faith in those he worked for. He stayed up there when his instincts told him otherwise. So, MH, dont be a HEARTLESS IDIOT, and confuse the loss of Declan Sullivan’s life with Notre Dame somehow being unjustly and unfairly raised up by ESPN. Dont cheapen Declan’s memory by trying to make a point how poor defenseless ND is being treated badly by ESPN using his death and their reporting as an example. Notre Dame DID make a BIG mistake. And its not one that can never be fixed and never be tolerated again. and to let you know MH, I am a HUGE ND football fan, an ND lover, not a hater. But, you should get some perspective. Some things are more important than ND football. and this young man’s life was one of those things.

    22. What a deflating article. Enjoy the fun of College Gameday!

    23. Lighten up all of you… Francis”

    24. I’m not saying this article should have included a full-scale alterntive set of recommendations as to how to improve on the current horrid state of affairs that is ESPN and college football, but for the life of me, I really can’t take away what the writer would like anyone do or say differently. Boycott ESPN? Watch cartoons on Saturday morning instead?

      I do enjoy College Gameday, but would be perfectly open to a different approach if one were offered.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Don’t watch ESPN other than ND games, don’t attend GameDay when it’s on campus, etc.

    25. Who the hell are you not to acknowledge the 2002 season? Did you play? Jerk.

    26. When ND is the top dog and pushing its weight around to get what it wants, that’s o.k? When another institution or entity is doing, that is a bad thing?

      I’m a fan of ND and admire their core values–principally, setting out to educate these young men instead of feeding them into their football machine and hoping they land in the NFL when they come out the other side. Even with that said, ND participates in this NCAA system that is primarily a money making venture at this level of college football. You either participate and hold your nose regarding some things, or you don’t and risk getting left behind.

    27. “(I refuse to acknowledge the existence of a 2002 season)”
      I think it’s OK to acknowledge the first 8 games of the 2002 season….

    28. Seriously, though… Mike, can you honestly say form your heart that ESPN has been bad for ND basketball. As an alum living in North Carolina who loves ND basketball as much as football (and I was there during the McLeod era!) I have to say that, although I agree for the most past about Gameday, I am thrilled with being to see almost every ND hoops game thanks to ESPN. More than that, I think the WWL has been quite fair in their treatment of ND Hoops. No?

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Absolutely it has. The advent of ESPN and the Big East killed ND basketball in the late 1980s. If ESPN has been fair in their treatment of ND basketball, it’s only because ND basketball can make them money. I don’t like being in that position.

        It’s good that you can see hoops games on ESPN, but as the technology develops, there’s no reason you won’t be able to see it via a dedicated ND channel through

    29. Interesting opinion that has obviously generated a significant response and debate, but please refrain from unnecessary comments about someone’s medical history. Corso provides plenty of fodder for ridicule without stooping to that. Beyond yourself, such comments reflect poorly on ND.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Actually, I’m not so much ridiculing Corso, who I feel sorry for, nearly so much as I’m criticizing ESPN for taking someone obviously in need of retirement and parading him out there every week.

        • The hypocrisy of a spokesman for the most widely read ND blog pleading for ND fans to represent the school well and not act like morons on national TV, while using a sophomoric joke about a stroke victim to make his point. Well done sir, well done.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            I’m sorry you considered it a joke. I certainly didn’t intend it as one. I find their continued use of Corso reprehensible and yet another example of them putting the dollar ahead of the well-being of the sport.

    30. Larry Delaney '60 says:

      Relax; it has always been about the money! And, it is great to see ND being a valuable, marketable thing again!

      I was at Soldier’s Field for the Miami beatdown, and it was great! The next game with Miami will be even more of a tough ticket!

      Enjoy the ride! It has been too long since we had a reson to be proud of our football team and their accomplishments.

      GO IRISH!


    31. george kaplan says:

      If 12-years olds of all ages enjoy game day I”m OK with it. But, ESPN as part of its corporate strategy does a recurrent anti -ND number, to make money. I would deplore Lou being a part of it but the priests shafted him and I see his point. Any ND fan who wants to watch that is free to do so, but stock up on asbestos footwear for the long haul.

    32. Good points, Mike. It’s the Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rule. Wherever money is involved, you can be sure that people will act in their pecuniary interest, regardless of what they say publicly.

      That aside, does anyone else find the whole College Gameday presentation to be rather cloying and annoying? I mute them.

      As for GM, does anyone remember the story of National City Lines? It’s worth a look.