The story made headlines because it was college football--and because it was Notre Dame.
Friday Night lights turned into Friday Night Flashing Lights when 5 Irish football players were in a car which was stopped by police for speeding. A hand gun was discovered and so was marijuana. Five arrests.
In another incident a Notre Dame football player was arrested on preliminary charges of felony battery against a police officer and misdemeanor resisting a police officer. That one, involving cornerback Devin Butler, could have some serious consequences.
And Notre Dame, as usual, was quick to react. Football coach Brian Kelly, announced that senior safety Max Redfield, one of the 5 players arrested following a traffic stop had been dismissed from the team and that Butler was suspended indefinitely. The other four players would be subject to disciplinary measures internal to the football program.
Notre Dame bashers will undoubtedly feast on this incident, which could prompt a series of responses and jokes such as ""Pat-down Jesus"" or ""Knute Rockne: Bail Bondsman"".
Such is life in the fast lane of college football in the social media society which currently exists. Such is life under The Golden Dome that is Notre Dame.
In the overall world, this looks like just case of college kids acting like college kids on a near end of summer Friday night although felony battery against a police officer needs to be looked at with greater concern. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
But it is Notre Dame and it is college football, so now we have a story which could gradually flow away in the ebb tide of an approaching season. Or it could turn into a tsunami.
Choose the former and count on the Irish to control the message, with the least possible damage.
Such is the power and influence of Notre Dame. In the world of college football there are national programs--Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida State--who have accomplished more in recent years.
You can argue that no one has been more dominant than Alabama under the reign of Nick Saban and the SEC is the epicenter of the college football universe.
But in terms of overall impact and power, NO ONE tops Notre Dame.
AND IT ISN'T EVEN CLOSE.
And please don't throw numbers involving Ws and Ls at me or national championships or bowl victories. It's much more than football.
I am talking about a national footprint for a school that has gotten almost EVERYTHING it has wanted without giving up a whole lot. Much of the credit for this should go to ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who is very much a power broker figure. But it goes way past any one individual.
Let's look at the Notre Dame profile in terms of getting what Notre Dame wants.
Life as an independent.
The Big Ten wanted Notre Dame. The Irish said no. When the Big East was running as a football league, the conference had an open invitation to the Irish. They never used it. The ACC has embraced Notre Dame in most other sports, but the football option remains open.
The ACC thought it had a major break through when it signed a deal in which Notre Dame played five ACC teams a season.
It was a deal in which Notre Dame gave up almost nothing and found a place in the ACC bowl rotation in the years in which the Irish's football record did not merit a Playoff bowl berth.
Small wonder the ACC football coaches were and are not happy with that arrangement, knowing that in a season in which an ACC team has a 7-5 record (bowl eligible) and the Irish finish 6-6, Notre Dame will get the first call from a bowl looking to fill that ACC slot.
There has been some speculation that when the ACC television network begins and kicks in added television contract money, Notre Dame will be enticed enough to join as a full member.
Notre Dame has its own home game television network now (NBC), has a bowl game parachute for its teams which falter and keeps all of the money when it makes a football playoff bowl. It also has the freedom to schedule 7 games against teams from all parts of the country.
Joining the ACC as a full-time member would increase the ND commitment to 8 or 9 games and narrow ND's footprint in other parts of the country. There is no compelling reason why ND should join.
Does Notre Dame have 6 home games this season, which means sell out crowds and national television?
ND also has "road'' games against Syracuse in the Jersey Meadowlands. That will be a Notre Dame dominated crowd. It plays Army in San Antonio and Navy in Jacksonville, Fla.
Again it will be a Notre Dame home crowd.
Only in games at Texas, at North Carolina State and at USC can the Irish expect to hear more than a hint of hostility.
A year ago, Notre Dame scheduled a home game against Boston College at Fenway Park, which is less than 5 miles from the BC campus. Yet the Eagles were allotted only 3,000 tickets.
Notre Dame schedules and drops games on their agenda. The Irish received some heat when they dropped Michigan as an annual opponent. The series has been revived, but to do it MICHIGAN had to play the role of bad guy. The Wolverines had to buy their way out of a game against Arkansas to get Notre Dame back on their schedule.
If you go outside of the Midwest and South you will have a difficult time finding visible support for Ohio State, Alabama or Florida State. Pick any place in the country and it will not be difficult to find Notre Dame support.
One of the things Notre Dame does best is control its message. Notre Dame recently signed a deal with Bleacher Report for an all access segment on their season. Great for ND, questionable for Bleacher Report if it wants to promote itself as a neutral media outlet covering college football.
When bad stuff happens--arrests, sexual assaults, academic fraud, which have all been on the ND blotter in recent years--the ND machine takes over and tells the story IT wants to tell.
This weekend's incidents will provide another challenge for the Notre Dame machine to exert its control, its influence, it's power. Kelly expressed his disappointment, handed out the punishment and will move forward to preparing for the opener against Texas.
At some schools, the case and the stain would linger. In South Bend, not so much.
Skeptics and critics will ask a simple question How can Notre Dame do this?
The answer is just as simple: Because it IS Notre Dame. [/membership]