It’s not often that one is challenged by an athletic director, much less one as erudite as Notre Dame’s own Jack “Jack” Swarbrick, but challenge us he did, loyal readers, in remarks made at the College Football Playoff spring meetings. As reported by Heather Dinich at ESPN, among othrs, Swarbrick said “You wouldn’t believe the number of letters I get from fans with proposals on how to get a 13th game.” “It’s just crazy. All of them have one common feature about them: There’s not a chance in hell the other school or conference would be willing to do it. Honest to goodness, I get the most creative letters on this topic; it’s crazy.” Crazy like a fox, Jack. I accept your challenge.
In developing my list of suitable candidates for what is fast-becoming the all-important thirteenth game on the schedule, I took Swarbrick’s other remarks to heart: I tried to avoid kooky picks with no chance of working out. For example, I’m not even going to pretend that the third-ranked team, i.e. the one left out of the conference championship, in either the B1G or the SEC, would even consider stepping into the ring against the Irish and possibly jeopardize its bowl prospects. Similarly, there’s no way Notre Dame would add just any old FCS program. Playing in Europe or Asia, too, seems impractical, although with advances in avionics and a burgeoning appeal in China, I can’t help but think the Irish will be the first to bring Rockne’s barnstorming élan to the Pacific Rim in twenty summers.
And it’s that spirit that gave me the answer:
If Notre Dame schedules it, they will come. And by that, I mean, the Irish, if they want that thirteenth game, should go full bridezilla, book the venue, and send out the invitations. Mr. Right, or Mr. Right Now, is sure to come along.
1. Superdome. Play in the Louisiana Superdome against either Tulane or the winner of the Bayou Classic. Between Grambling and Notre Dame, there’s enough college football history to choke a donkey.
2. Estadio Azteca. A match in Mexico City against UTSA or UTEP in this hemisphere’s greatest football stadium. The Spanish word for donkey is burro.
3. Yankee Stadium. A match against New York City against Army. Scheduling it before the Pinstripe Bowl will require some doing, but yolo.
4. Walt Disney Concert Hall. Throw down a playing surface and let the Little Admiral soar like an oboe playing Beethoven’s Leonore No. 3. Obvious opponents include USC and Juliard.
5. CenturyLink Field. A match in the city known as the Princess of Precipitation against Washington. Or Washington State.
6. Stade Olympique. Allons mes enfants à Montréal! The Irish put aside all pretense of a legitimate thirteenth game and schedule the winner of last season’s CFL in the largest Canadian football stadium.
7. The Vegas Strip. Roll out the FieldTurf and throw down some cones. We played the Spring Game on an auxiliary basketball court this year, so why the heck not? Suitable opponents include UNLV and a lazy-eyed dealer named Tran who never busts.
8. New Minnesota Stadium. Against the Minnesota Vikings. Essentially, this would be an old-timers game.
9. USS Gerald R. Ford. At a little over 1100 feet long, the flagship of the newest class of supercarriers will be the ideal host for a game against Michigan. Bonus: instead of flyovers, planes land at midfield after ever PAT.
10. Notre Dame Stadium. Just a thirteenth game against a desperate tomatocan. Like Purdue.
11. Ross Ade Stadium. Just a thirteenth game against a desperate tomatocan. Like Purdue.
12. Legion Field. A game against UAB in Birmingham could go a long way to jamming a thumb in ‘Bama’s eye.
13. Kelly/Shorts Stadium. An annual that sees BK return to the hallowed stomping grounds of his halcyon hay days? Sign me up for this tilt against, who else, CMU.
You’re welcome, Mr. Swarbrick.