Should BYU Continue Pursuing Notre Dame Series?


The remaining games in the BYU-Notre Dame series are in jeopardy according to Tom Holmoe.  Should BYU continue to pursue these games?

September 1, 2010, the day BYU announced their declaration of independence in the college football world. It was an exciting time for Cougar Nation as they were entering a path that was finally going to give them the national exposure that they felt they had deserved for decades.

The biggest question mark with independence was how would BYU put together schedules that can keep them in the national discussion throughout the season? On day one of independence, athletic director, Tom Holmoe, announced a six-game series with Notre Dame.

From a PR standpoint, announcing the first independent series for the Cougars with Notre Dame was genius. For some, the Irish are the premier brand in college football. This announcement made some national minds think twice before assuming BYU’s move to unchartered waters would be a complete failure.

It was a match made in heaven, literally, with the two most powerful faith-based institutions in the country squaring off. It was believed by some that this series would blossom into an annual tilt, with each program wanting to help one another show the country that independence could work, and that others should join. Remember when there was talk surrounding USC and Texas both possibly exploring the independent path? Notre Dame and BYU were going to create a back to the future situation in college football it appeared.

Flash forward to nearly four years later. Both schools are independent, but in title only. Other than being labeled independent, the two are on entirely different paths now. Notre Dame is hitched with the ACC for at least five games a year, and the Cougars are on their own island of College Football wondering where the truly stand amongst the powers of the sport.

Two of the originally scheduled six games have been played, but both have been in South Bend. The odds of the remaining four games to be played –two in Provo- are “in jeopardy” according to Holmoe.

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Is it surprising? No, not really. Should BYU continue to hold out for the Irish? No they shouldn’t.

Holmoe said today that BYU would continue to wait if the games could be played. At this point, why wait?

BYU needs to move on and lock down games with other opponents and quit waiting around for Notre Dame.   The two schools have played eight games all-time, and only two have been in Provo.

The Irish haven’t been to LaVell Edwards Stadium since 2004 in a game BYU won 20-17. Notre Dame leads the overall series 2-6.

BYU has faced Notre Dame three times in the Bronco Mendenhall era, and all three have been in South Bend. Holmoe and Mendenhall want a return visit to Provo before they consider another dreary night in South Bend. That’s the issue here. Holmoe is sticking to his guns with Irish AD Jack Swarbrick, that the Cougars want a game in Provo. Notre Dame will happily fulfill the remaining two games in South Bend, but they don’t want to make the trip out west.

BYU has shown they can get quality games as an independent. That’s the least of BYU’s issues as an independent at this point. Practically the entire Pac-12 is scheduling BYU to home-and-home’s, and the Cougars are locking down made-for-TV matchups against some of the nation’s best “other five” teams. Don’t wait on Notre Dame.

This isn’t the same Notre Dame program that once had Lou Holtz roaming the sidelines when the Irish were the nation’s premier program. They simply don’t bring that clout anymore. At this point people follow them to see when they will slipup to a school like Pitt or Navy, and then to see Mark May’s happiness in the ESPN studios. Well, on second thought, no one ever wants to watch Mark May.

BYU doesn’t need Notre Dame to survive. The Irish are no longer a true independent and the Cougars are still going about their business just fine. When BYU was taking their first steps as an independent many thought the Cougars would be attached to the hip of the Irish. The Irish panicked with the new college football playoff era upon us and did their own thing with NBC and the ACC, and guess what? BYU still has ESPN, and the Cougars are in a better spot as a program than where they were four years ago.

We all know the hurdles that face this program as an independent, but Holmoe and Mendenhall continue to tackle this thing the best way they can.   Yes, the November home slate is a difficult task to overcome. It always will be. But they are making progress. Notre Dame wasn’t going to help the November home game issue anyway. Honestly for me, once BYU gets rid of FCS opponents as the senior day game in late November, any other opponent will feel like an upgrade in the last month of the season.

Move on BYU. There’s no reason to plea for a game to a program that by all means, doesn’t deserve it anymore.