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'Strong Chance' Irish Will Play USF

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'Strong Chance' Irish Will Play USF

By BRETT McMURPHY The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jul 18, 2006

NEWPORT, R.I. - In less than 10 years, the University of South Florida's football program has ascended through the college ranks at an unprecedented rate. Within the next 10 years, the Bulls could reach even greater heights: a home-and-home series with the University of Notre Dame.

Kevin O'Malley, an advisor for media rights for Notre Dame, said there is a "strong chance" USF will play Notre Dame, considered college football's most storied program, by 2016.

"I think you and I will go to a USF-Notre Dame game," O'Malley said. "I just don't know when it will be."

O'Malley, who lives in Oldsmar, has worked the past 15 months as an adviser for Notre Dame and is one of the collegiate sports' most powerful figures. O'Malley is also a paid advisor to college sports interests, including the BCS, the Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten conferences.

Notre Dame, a Big East member in sports other than football, has committed to play three Big East teams a year from 2011-2016, Notre Dame senior associate AD John Heisler said.

"We're still working our way through this," Heisler said. "We've had conversations with Big East teams, but we've still got a ways to go."

Pittsburgh is the only Big East school that Notre Dame has agreed to play in a future series, Heisler said.

While Heisler was non-committal about which other Big East opponents the Irish will play, O'Malley said he believes USF will be one.

"I think Notre Dame will end up playing USF, and there's a good chance they'll play a home-and-home series," said O'Malley, who is attending the Big East Media Days. "But it's all within the context with what Notre Dame wants to accomplish in its Big East relationship and then what they're doing geographically as far as bringing the team around the country.

"[Athletic Director] Kevin [White] and Notre Dame want to play Big East schools with a schedule that will work with Notre Dame going forward, which brings us to the second way of looking at things: bringing Notre Dame around the country. In many ways they are America's Team. Everybody is happy to have them come play."

USF athletic director Doug Woolard said he would welcome a series with the Fighting Irish.

"If an opportunity presents itself, it would be an attractive game for USF and certainly would be well-received by our fans," Woolard said.

If the Bulls were able to schedule Notre Dame, it would be an incredible coup for USF's program, which began in 1997 as a Division I-AA independent.

"The important thing is Notre Dame is interested," O'Malley said. "They're going to play different Big East schools on a home-and-home basis, but no one has sat down with Notre Dame and said, 'How is this going to work?'

"I'm not going to ask Notre Dame directly, that wouldn't be the right thing to do. But I know from talking to Kevin White and John Heisler that they're both pretty well disposed toward the Tampa Bay area. As they go through the process of playing Big East schools, I would think USF would be a very good possibility.

"There's no specific agenda that says 'Yes, we want to play a game in Tampa' or an agenda that says 'Yes, we want to play USF.' But the combination of those two things leaves you to believe there's a good chance USF and Notre Dame will play in the longer cycle [after 2011]."

Since it was lost . . .  :P

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God would I LOVE THIS!!! There is no team I hate more than the Homo Irish of Notre Lame

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