Monday, December 08, 2008

Hawai'i, here we come!

University of Hawai'i Warriors (7-5, 5-3 WAC, WAC #2)
Aloha Stadium (50,000 capacity), Honolulu, Hawai'i
December 24, 2008 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Payout: $398,000

Projection opinion: "A winnable game in beautiful Hawai'i, which happens to be the home state of a certain linebacker the Irish have been courting in this year's recruiting class. A very winnable game and a beautiful venue. If the Irish are looking primarily to end their bowl winning streak, this would be the game I'd choose. A low payout, however, may make this less attractive."

Although the message boards have been aflame with complaints about the Irish accepting this bid, I think that it was the best bid available. I'm going to address the complaints of the message board posters, and I'd like to hear your responses as well.

Complaint 1: "You don't reward players for a 6-6 season."
While I agree that rewarding mediocrity is questionable, the fact remains that if the Irish decline a bowl bid, another 6-6 team will take it. These are the rules of the game, and we need to take advantage of the rules. Declining a bowl bid would be like running an extra pass play when the rules say you can run out the clock and win the game. This young team will get an extra month of practice, and has a golden opportunity to put this bowl losing streak to bed for good.

Complaint 2: "ND should not be playing a game on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Christmas is the second-holiest time in the Catholic calendar, and is supposed to be about family."
Now just wait one cotton-pickin' minute here. The Irish have played on New Year's Day numerous times, and New Year's Day is a holy day of obligation. But I don't hear anyone complaining when we play in the Gator Bowl. And Christmas Eve is not a holy day of obligation. It's just the night before the holy day.
And further, I don't know very many true Irish fans (alums in particular) for whom Notre Dame football is not part of their family tradition. In fact, I would love to be able to sit down with my family and watch the Irish on Christmas Eve, while we sip egg nog by the fire and get ready for Christmas Vigil mass. I can't think of a better time. Ratings are going to be huge, as people are going to be sitting at home anyway with family. It's going to make Christmas Eve this year feel a little bit like Thanksgiving.

Complaint 3: Nobody can afford to go to this bowl game.
Now, this complaint is just ridiculous. For the fanbase and alums of one of the nation's greatest universities to complain about not being able to afford a plane ticket to Honolulu is ridiculous.
Can I afford to go to the game? No. But then, I'm just starting out on my career. There are plenty of well-off fans and alums that will buy the plane ticket to Hawaii for Christmas. There is zero chance that the Irish don't sell all of their ticket allotment. In fact, we travel so well, I'd be willing to bet that the majority of the fans in the stands will be Irish fans, despite the fact that this is essentially a home game for the Hawaii Warriors. This is just sour grapes from the people that wanted to be able to go to a closer game like the Texas Bowl.

Complaint 4: Spending a million dollars to fly the team out to Hawaii sends a bad message in these troubled economic times.
Make no mistake, Notre Dame will make money this bowl season. The costs of flying the football program to Hawaii are far outweighed by the financial boon the Irish will get from playing in a bowl game. The payout from the bowl game may not cover the costs, but the exposure for their sponsors and the money from the BCS deal will still keep the program in the black this postseason.
And as far as messages go, this complaint seems to imply that they should just cancel the Hawaii bowl. Heck, why not cancel all of the bowl games?

The Hawaii Bowl was the best option available to the Irish this bowl season, and I am glad that the powers that be at Notre Dame recognized that the Texas Bowl against Rice had no positives for the University. Worse, nobody would have been able to watch that game, as it's on the NFL network and on a Tuesday night, nonetheless. I don't know about everyone else, but I'll be home on Christmas Eve, and won't have to work the next day. I can watch the game, go to Vigil Mass, and then enjoy my Christmas morning. On Tuesday the 30th, I'd have to work all day, then try to find a bar to watch the game at (I don't get the NFL network), then try to get back home and get some sleep before I work the next day.

I applaud the University for ignoring the punditry that attempted to relegate them to a worthless bowl game against Rice, and instead accepted a bid that provides a great atmosphere for the Irish to end their bowl losing streak and set up for next year.

Plus, it's basically a free recruiting trip for the entire team, coaches on down, to go out and recruit Manti Te'o for a week.

Maybe the Weis family can get an invite to the Te'o household to celebrate Christmas Day.

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