Shunned! Rutgers says, “No Thank You” to Notre Dame

Dan SiegelSenior Analyst IApril 25, 2008

Those hoping to see Notre Dame Football in New Jersey should continue sitting on the couches or frequenting their favorite watering hole as Rutgers has turned down a six-game home-and-home series against the Fighting Irish.

The two schools were at an impasse over where the Rutgers’ home games should be played in the series that was scheduled to start in 2010.  Notre Dame wanted Rutgers to commit to using the new football stadium at the Meadowlands – the future home of the NFL’s Jets and Giants – while Rutgers wanted to stay home and play on campus at Rutgers Stadium.   Rutgers had just invested $102 million to upgrade its home field to hold 55,000.

This story coincides with the same difficulties Notre Dame and other schools have had with scheduling football games with the University of Connecticut.  UConn has a brand new facility, Rentschler Field, which was paid for by taxpayer money, but they seemed willing to play at the new Meadowlands Stadium or Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts – home of the NFL’s New England Patriots.  However, the state has stepped in and forced UConn to cut back on its prospective out of state home games and make use of their new home turf.

It seems as though Notre Dame is trying to make up for their lack of production on the gridiron in recent years and less favorable television slots by trying to force fledgling NCAA football programs to fill up large stadiums of Irish faithful around the country.  Notre Dame refuses to lower their academic standards for its football players and has had difficulty in recruiting top talent of the past decade.

While it appears as though Notre Dame has their pride by not pushing academics side (novel idea for a university), Rutgers has shown its pride too by not giving up the home field advantage they would have had against the Irish if Notre Dame came to play the Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Stadium.  With the New York City metropolitan area lacking in a home college football program to root for up until the last couple of years when Rutgers burst onto the scene, many Notre Dame alumni, as well as those who have adopted Notre Dame as their team over the years, would have made the trip up to the Meadowlands to see their favorite squad.

While Rutgers has a loyal following from its students and a growing fan base across New Jersey and the New York City area, they do not have the national appeal that Notre Dame has and the Fighting Irish fans would most likely have outnumbered the Scarlet Knight fans even though Rutgers seems to be more intent on putting a quality football product on the field rather than just filling seats in gargantuan stadiums.