Mike's Mailbag

I've answered a few questions left over from Power Hour. I tried to tackle the 7-4-1 situation. I hope it makes sense. This is just my opinion, but I tried to explain the situation as I see it currently.

Do you think there might be a few other juniors or seniors on the team who could end up transferring? It seems like with the massive influx of talent, that some of those guys might end up last on the depth chart this year with a boatload of talented young studs on the way.

Mike: It's definitely possible. Most players want the opportunity to play, so it wouldn't surprise me to see a few transfer at some point next year. I doubt you'll see any seniors, and juniors would also probably be tough as they lose a year of eligibility when they transfer. Most people who leave would leave after their second season so they'd have two years to play. Some might leave after their third. But I do think it's quite possible a person or two could transfer. So far that hasn't been a big problem for Weis, and I don't anticipate it to be in the future. But usually these kids do want to play, like Frazer, and I don't blame them for that.

ND is not ranked in the top 40 in the pre-season polls. Do you think they should be a top 40 team, and what number would you now give them?

Mike: I think a lot of people see the inexperience on the team and are pushing the Irish down in the polls because of it. I also think they'll struggle, at least initially, but I don't think they'll end up out of the top 40. I think they'll be a top 30 or higher team by the end of the season. I think ND will finish the regular season 8-4 and then go to a bowl game and hopefully win. With a 9-4 record, they'll likely climb into the top 25 at the end.

Mike, how do you see the timeline for the rest of the recruiting cycle? Specifically, when do you see Etienne, Brown, Floyd, Robinson making their decisions?

Finally, do you think ND will offer Deion Walker? Thanks so much and take care.

Mike: I think you'll see Trevor Robinson make his decision within the new week or so. I really don't know what to think on Sabino. He very may well decide early, but I think people shouldn't get too excited about him committing while at Notre Dame as he's going to Ohio State after his ND visit, so I doubt he'd commit while on the ND visit. Jeremy Brown's decision will likely be made right away if he decides he wants to go to ND to preserve his spot. I really have no idea when Michael Floyd will announce. I do think ND will offer Walker if he's cleared academically at ND. I'm sure they had the usual meeting about that while he was at ND yesterday. I heard he enjoyed his visit and could end up making an early decision. We'll see what happens.

What are your thoughts on the WSU game in San Antonio? How about the new 7-4-1, in general?

Mike: I know there has been a lot of debate lately about this, but I don't think people understand what is happening and why.

When a 12th game was added to the schedule, this gave most teams the opportunity to add another home game. That's great for the University because that means another big payday. But, that payday comes at a price…..

Irish fans have already made it clear they don't want to play the Eastern Michigan's of the college football world, but I don't think some understand the scheduling conflict this becomes.

If you're going to play a seventh home game, that team won't be a quality opponent. Why? Because everyone else will play a seventh home game as well, and when you have seven games at home and only five games on the road, someone isn't getting a return game where the Irish then travel the following year to their stadium and play them on the road. In fact, that would be two teams that aren't getting return games—thus two crap games most likely. The only teams that agree to play a one-off game on the road are lesser teams looking for a payday and exposure……the San Diego State's of the world.

Irish fans want to play teams like Tennessee, Texas, Florida State, etc. But these teams also have 12 games, and the possibility of seven home games. They also want to land that extra big payday. So the only way ND can schedule teams like these is to do it on a home-and-home basis. That means they play one game in South Bend, one in say Tennessee.

These teams also have rival games they must play, just like ND's rival games. This is where the conflict comes in, that and conference play. Each team in a conference automatically will play four road games. They will only play one more road game at maximum because they ALSO want to cash in on the seventh game and payday. These elite teams won't schedule Notre Dame unless it's home-and-home, and it fits into their schedule exactly where they want it to be—same for ND. LSU doesn't want to sandwich a ND away game in between playing Alabama and Florida.

ND already plays Purdue, Michigan State, Navy and USC every year. So that's automatically four teams on the schedule every year. That means two of these games are automatically an away game every year and would give ND only two more away slots with their 7-4-1 idea. If you want to play big names like Penn State and Michigan on your schedule, you will have to play them home-and-home, so that's at least one more of the away games—this year they're both on the road.

What ND has done here is actually quite clever if you ask me. They know they're going to struggle to get a quality 12th opponent to add Notre Dame on their schedule because they'd have to play Notre Dame later in the year. Why? Because the Big 10 dictates that ND play their teams before the conference season begins (which I think is a load of crap). It's also a problem because of how the USC game is scheduled every year.

Since ND is already playing Purdue, Michigan State and usually Michigan, the only time to schedule a Tennessee, Florida State, Texas, Oklahoma is towards the end of the season. When ND plays USC out in California, that's the last game of the year, so these games would have to be in October. When USC plays ND at home, these games would have to be in November.

This is why you see Michigan dropping off the schedule. Because ND plays both Purdue and Michigan State every year, it makes it very hard to schedule Michigan as the schedule becomes too front-end loaded. This will allow ND to play teams like Tennessee, Florida State, Oklahoma mid-season and towards the end of the season. ND will still play a quality opponent. They're playing Oklahoma instead of Michigan, but the schedule balances out and the Irish have some easier games in between the tougher games.

The "1" of 7-4-1 is actually pretty clever and really could actually be seen as a bonus for the ND program. Why? It will add a quality opponent while still adding a lot more dollars to the ND program, and giving them good exposure.

What ND did here is convince a team like Washington State to play ND at a neutral site instead of ND playing them on the road. Both teams get a nice payday, and both teams get some exposure in fertile recruiting grounds. They've essentially figured out a way to still play a quality opponent, get paid more money than they would traditionally on the road, and figured out a way to solve the "one-and -done" problem. This will be a one-off game and solves that problem.

Again, the big problem is convincing a team like Georgia to come play ND at ND so they can have both a seventh home game and a quality opponent without a return game at Georgia the following year. That just isn't going to happen.

This plan is quite clever and will actually solve a problem for a lot of teams that will have similar problems with scheduling in the future. I bet you'll see more of this in the future from other teams as well.

Now, where I think ND fans have a problem is they don't feel ND's schedule has enough quality opponents for those seven home games. I can't argue with that, but again, you struggle getting the elite teams because you don't play a return game at their place. I hope that explains it somewhat for you.

In my opinion, what I see has happened, is instead of ND playing that quality 12th opponent in South Bend every other year, they'll have to play them at a neutral site every year. ND will make quite a bit more money because of it. They will also get some extra exposure in vital recruiting areas. The fans do suffer a bit because they won't get to see that great 12th game in South Bend every other year.

This is the way I read the situation based on what I see happening with the schedule, and with what has been said by Kevin White.

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