When the TV money flowing into college football changed from a steady stream to a tsunami, Notre Dame surfed the front wave. Their 1991 deal with NBC for exclusive broadcast rights of home games helped ensure the slow death of traditional college football. You know: crisp fall Saturday afternoons on campus, tweedy professors, wholesome cheerleaders, projectile-vomiting frat boys. Back in the day, for far-away alums or fans, maybe the game would’ve been on TV, but probably not. Now, any time slot that doesn’t go up against the NFL has a college game scheduled, to feed the bottomless maw of ESPN and other sports cable outfits.
Yet the fact that Notre Dame is just another a football factory isn’t the issue: it’s the fact that Notre Dame acts as though it isn’t just another football factory.
Even beyond the money, Notre Dame’s claims of moral superiority are belied by events on the ground. When student videographers are killed in windstorms or a young woman commits suicide after allegedly being sexually assaulted by a football player, and Notre Dame’s administration circles the wagons around “the program,” well, they remind us there is no moral high ground in big-time college sports.
That all flowed right over my head! But good righting, Bill!