On the April 27, 2008 edition of Face the State we talk about the controversy over whether the UConn football team should play Notre Dame.
First, this is an amazing opportunity for the Huskies to play the Fighting Irish, the team immortalized in films like “Knute Rockne” and “Rudy.” A host of legends have come through South Bend like Joe Montana and others. This is the school that has been playing in bowls for generations and goes up against powerhouses like the University of Michigan. Yes, they want to play UConn.
No one can really argue that this is not a good thing for UConn. It would be of enormous help to coach Randy Edsall in recruiting the top talent in high school football. The university would make money, and the prestige of playing Notre Dame would elevate the Huskies position in the football world. The problem is Notre Dame has laid out some conditions for accepting the invitation. No games at Rentschler. Zippo. Nada. It’s too small.
What if Rentschler was expanded? Sorry. Notre Dame thinks the Hartford market is too small. This is the 28th biggest television market in the country. By the way South Bend is market 89 and Notre Dame certainly plays in smaller markets, like Lansing, Michigan, market 112.
Notre Dame wants UConn to use New Jersey and Massachusetts as their home fields. The Meadowlands, and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Notre Dame wants to showcase its brand in the Boston and New York Television markets, markets 7 and 1 respectively. The assumption is Connecticut fans will drive the 100 miles to Foxboro and Secaucus, but Notre Dame fans in Massachusetts and New Jersey won’t drive the 100 to Rentschler.
Plus there is that Bob Kraft issue. One of the biggest villians in Connecticut sports history owns Gillette Stadium. He will make money off the state and the football program he jilted a decade ago.
Clearly if the Rentschler were bigger, the situation would be even stickier. It would be all about the dissing of the Hartford market. One of the big complaints about Hartford is that is a no-man’s land between New York and Boston, and agreeing to play in neighboring markets only plays into that argument. So while the Notre Dame agreement may be good for UConn, it hurts your capital city and the region.
What do you think?