Each week, The Herald-Whig sports staff and a member of the WGEM sports staff will debate a pertinent topic. Here is this week's question:
"Does college football benefit from having Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game?"
Matt Schuckman, Sports Editor
My late grandfather, Michael Connell Sr., once told me it was sacrilegious to root against Notre Dame. For a man with Irish roots and strong Catholic faith, supporting the Golden Dome, especially the fabled football program, was second nature.
I never followed suit.
One of my collegeaues who is admittedly a Notre Dame homer -- that would be Don O'Brien -- continually calls me a hater because I never cheer for the Irish. I typically root against them, but I cannot turn a blind eye to the impact the Fighting Irish have on the college football landscape.
When the Irish are good, the game is better. It's that simple.
Why? The Irish sell. College football is a business, regardless of how university presidents and curators spin things. It's the business of making money, and no program makes more money than Notre Dame.
Let's take it one step further. Having the Irish in the title game gives every fan a rooting interest. There will be those who want to see Notre Dame win its first national title since 1988. On the flip side, there are those who want to see Irish eyes crying whether they're playing Alabama or Alcorn State.
Either way, the Irish are going to make this one of the highest-rated television broadcasts of the college football game ever. That's good for the game.
Blake Toppmeyer, Sports Writer
In the words of the famous philosopher Puff Daddy, "It's all about the Benjamins."
College football certainly benefits from having Notre Dame face Alabama in Monday's Bowl Championship Series championship. Most notably, it benefits in a financial way.
This year's title game might be the most highly anticipated BCS title game of all-time. A big part of that is because of the national following Notre Dame has. Notre Dame's fandom will translate to higher intrigue, better TV ratings and more advertising. The trickle down effect of that means more money for the NCAA.
You'll hear arguments about how Notre Dame's prestige and tradition are great for the game. There's some truth to that, but there are a lot of other programs out there with those qualities.
You'll hear how Notre Dame reaching the championship proves big-time athletes can be both intelligent and skilled on the gridiron. But let's not kid ourselves. Many Notre Dame players are probably more interested in how the school can prepare them for the NFL as opposed to how the school can prepare them to be successful doctors, teachers, lawyers or mathematicians.
At the end of the day, I'm not sure the Notre Dame football program is that much different from Alabama, Southern California, Florida, Ohio State, Michigan or any of the other high-profile college programs. Except of course, Notre Dame's presence Monday will generate more Benjamins.
Josh Rizzo, Sports Writer
Aura, legacy and a big national fanbase make Notre Dame's inclusion in the Bowl Championship Series title game a huge benefit for the NCAA.
From a money standpoint -- that's what the college presidents and the NCAA are really concerned about -- matching Alabama and Notre Dame can only provide higher ratings and more revenue.
Exposure will also be a non-issue, as the talking heads will gladly talk about the Fighting Irish being in the game. For years, there was a debate as to whether the program is still relevant. Now that Notre Dame is back in the title game, the discussion will surely shift to whether or not Brian Kelly can keep the program at the top.
Notre Dame's inclusion in the BCS, despite being a stout independent in a big conference system, is intriguing. Conferences are devouring each other to get a piece of the big money. Will the Fighting Irish's new deal that requires them to play five Atlantic Coast Conference schools every year force them to assimilate?
Notre Dame hasn't won a national title since 1988 and has relied on its historic past to earn poll rankings it doesn't deserve. Now, the Fighting Irish are an elite program again and look to be a competitor for years to come. It's good for the NCAA, but the aura will drive a lot of people crazy.
Ben Marth, WGEM Sports Director
Like it or not, college football is better when Notre Dame is relevant.
The Fighting Irish are akin to Duke basketball, the Dallas Cowboys, and the New York Yankees, as teams that grab the most headlines, secure the highest TV ratings, and move the radio meters.
They are the teams with some of the better traditions. They are the teams fans of other squads like to consistently mock no matter good or bad. And, they are the teams whose own fans, when their team is struggling, can always refer back to the ‘glory days' as a means of therapeutic intervention.
And there's no debate Irish fans have needed plenty of counseling sessions since their team has been void of a national championship for the better part of the last quarter century.
Sure, the argument can be made the BCS title game will draw millions upon millions of viewers no matter which two teams are playing. But this isn't the Super Bowl. The fact Notre Dame is playing attracts the casual and non-traditional viewer and that's why college football benefits from having the Irish, not to mention Alabama, involved.
It's a chance for the NCAA and BCS to showcase their sport and it just so happens Notre Dame, beloved by some and loathed by more, takes center stage. And I can't recall a national title game with more pregame hype than the one we will all be witness to Monday night.
Let's just hope the game follows suit.