Notre Dame Football: 5 Prime Time Games Will Pay Long-Term Dividends

Jim SheridanCorrespondent IMay 26, 2011

EL PASO, TX - DECEMBER 30:  The Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a 33-17 win against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Bowl on December 30, 2010 in El Paso, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With five prime time games already scheduled for the 2011 season and the possibility of two more, the Irish could, in reality, play a total of seven night games this coming season. Eight with a prime time bowl game.

Here is a look at the night games including games with times yet to be determined:


9/10/11     at Michigan         8:00 pm

9/24/11     at Pittsburgh      TBD

10/1/11     at Purdue            8:00 pm

10/22/11   vs. USC               7:30 pm

11/5/11     at Wake Forest   TBD

11/12/11   vs. Maryland*      7:30 pm (* in Landover Maryland)

11/26/11   at Stanford          8:00 pm

Notre Dame fans are used to a few night games during the season, the Irish played four in 2010, but what are the ramifications of a potential seven night games in 2011? Almost all good—this conclusion was not reached lightly.

As the prime time games started to stack up with Purdue announcing in mid May that their contest with the Irish would be a night game, bringing the total to five, some fans became concerned. Concerned, most likely, that Notre Dame has never played five night games in a season.

After the initial thought of "what the hell am I going to do until 8:00 pm" passes, these prime time games have a huge upside. 

Picture Bob Diaco sitting in Dorial Green Beckham's living room next January, able to talk about all the night games that the Irish played in 2011. Night games produce better ratings, simple as that. Better ratings equal more exposure. This in itself makes the recruiting trail a little bit easier.

The night games should make no difference to the players themselves. Most high schools play at night, so this is a non-issue. 

When Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick announced in late March that when USC visits South Bend in September, the matchup would be the first home night game in 21 years, there were some sceptics.

Mainly, concerns about the amount of alcohol that will be consumed with extra time before the game. Personally I look at it differently. I see it as extra time to enjoy the bag pipe band or a chance to spend some extra time at the Grotto.

Like it or not, the Irish will play a minimum of five prime time games in 2011. Brian Kelly and company might as well make the most of it.