Brian: Yesterday came word that Notre Dame and Maryland have agreed to play at FedEx Field in 2011. Somehow, Notre Dame is listed as the home team for this game. It will be the first time that Maryland has played in its closest NFL stadium and only the second time that the Irish and Terrapins have faced one another.
With the game, the Irish continue their 7-4-1 trend of seven home games, four road games and one neutral site game at an NFL stadium. This 7-4-1 trend is quickly becoming a 7-3-2 trend, as next season, the Irish will play two neutral games - vs. Navy at the New Meadowlands Stadium and vs. Army at Yankee Stadium. Over the next few years, Notre Dame will play neutral site games in Foxboro, the Meadowlands, Dublin, the Superdome, and the New Cowboys Stadium.
In addition to Maryland in 2011, Notre Dame also has a home game scheduled with Wake Forest in 2012. Admit it. The fact that Notre Dame has scheduled two other ACC teams while BC and ND continue to dance around renewing their rivalry gets under your skin, right?
Jeff: I know you are surprised but this does not bother me at all. I think the Notre Dame-Maryland series is probably a win-win for both schools. Maryland wants the exposure of playing Notre Dame and can only get it by agreeing to a deal like this. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is looking to play a game a year at a neutral site in front of a large, split crowd. Then you mention Notre Dame playing Wake in 2012 but once again this is not a series set up but just a one year deal so that is also nothing I am jealous of.
Do I think Notre Dame has found a great scheduling model that will ultimately give them a recruiting edge over other schools? No! So that's exactly why I don't care. If anything I think their recent scheduling practice of soft opponents and neutral site games will ultimately be a detriment to the long term health of the program. This is exactly why I'm not the slightest bit jealous of Notre Dame continuing to schedule in this way. Navy, Army, and Maryland are going to bring quite a few fans to these games themselves but they will not sell out the Arizona State game in Arlington, as this past season's game in San Antonio gave us a glimpse of what's to come for Notre Dame football - empty seats.
I think BC and ND will eventually renew their rivalry will an alternative home and away format but we knew it wasn't going to happen in 2011, 2012 or probably even in the time frame that next year's recruiting class would see. Right now, at least we play in a conference and have USC scheduled a few years from now.