Athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced Friday that the school has decided against going to a bowl game with a 6-6 record, citing "unique circumstances." He didn't elaborate, but Swarbrick fired coach Charlie Weis after five seasons earlier this week and the search for a replacement is under way.I didn't think there was any real chance Notre Dame would turn down a bowl game -- not so much for the "experience," but because of the 15 extra practices that come with a bowl berth -- but when you think about it, there's no good reason for ND to go to Detroit or Mobile for a fourth-tier game against a MAC or Sun Belt opponent.
On the flipside, there are plenty of reasons NOT to go, specifically the fact that the extra practices (which are usually key in preparing for next season) would be meaningless. When you have no coach and no coordinators and both your starting QB and top receiver are almost certainly headed to the NFL, what are you preparing for? The players would be going through the motions, with only a win over Central Michigan as potential motivation.
And along those same lines, how many Notre Dame fans would travel to Detroit to watch the sad finish to an incredibly disappointing season? My guess: not many. If you took a poll of Notre Dame fans right now and asked for their reaction to the bowl rejection, the top two responses would be:
1. This gives us a better shot at Bob Stoops!
2. Urban Meyer still says Notre Dame is his dream job.
I've spent much of the past week on ND message boards trying to find useful information about the coaching search, and at no point have I heard a potential bowl game even mentioned. In other words, nobody cares. A bowl game is supposed to be a celebration of a successful season, not a pointless finale for a team that doesn't want to be there (although that's becoming the case more and more often as the bowl lineup continues to expand).
Is it an "elitist" decision? Yeah, I guess so. I'm sure the seniors would have enjoyed finishing with a win instead of four straight losses. But it's not like a win in the Who Cares Bowl would erase the damage from the past month. The coach is gone, the season was a disaster and the fans care 10 times more about the future than they do about the present. Sometimes it's better to just move on.