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Papa Holtz discusses expansion and rooting for USF

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On Notre Dame possibly joining a conference because of the possible Big Ten expansion: "I think Jack Swarbrick, the AD, is doing a tremendous job of leading Notre Dame and being the spokesman. Every decision he has made so far has been very positive, like the hiring of Brian Kelly.

"I don't think Notre Dame wants to go into a conference, unless we are forced into a conference. Because Notre Dame is a national school. I don't care where you go in this country, there are people who are Notre Dame fans. When I was coaching, you could go to California and compete with Southern Cal. You could go up to Massachusetts and compete with Boston College. It's a national school, and the minute you join a conference, you become a regional school. That means most of your games are played here.

"You look at the schools we played when I was at Notre Dame. We played, obviously, the normal people -- Southern Cal, Michigan. We also played Tennessee a couple of times. We played Alabama. We played Texas. You went and played Miami of Florida, Florida State, you played the best programs around the country. And that's what Notre Dame is, a national school. There aren't many people that have that appeal."

On what the Big Ten expanding means for the future of college football: "It's a question of whether they are going to go east or west, and it is a question of how many are they going to have. Are they going to go east and look at Rutgers and Pittsburgh and possibly Syracuse, or are they going to go west and look at Missouri, Nebraska, etc.…

"If that happens, you are going to have to have other conferences realign. I think we are going to see a tremendous shakeup. Why do people want to get to 12 (teams)? Because you have to have 12 teams in your conference before you can have a conference championship, and that brings in millions of dollars for the conference. In addition to that, it extends the season longer. It keeps you in the public limelight. One of the things that Ohio State is saying is, we don't play very well in the bowl game because it is so long since our last game by the time we play for the national championship.

"For whatever reason, I definitely think the Big Ten is going to expand, and when they do you are going to see a tremendous realignment all over. I think the Pac-10 is going to expand. I do believe we are going to (see) a lot of changes in the landscape of college football in the next two years."

On a playoff system for college football: "I think we are not going to have a college playoff because it's follow the money. The NCAA basketball tournament has a lot of interest and makes a lot of money. But most of that money goes to the NCAA. In college football, all the bowls and TV revenue goes to the conferences. When the SEC will get $11 (million), $12 million a team, they don't want to give that up.

"I would like to see us have a playoff."

On what he would do if he was in charge of college football: "If they say you're head of football, you can do two things. The first thing I would do, I would say the second week of the season we have conference vs. conference. The Big Ten is going to play the Big 12. The SEC is going to play the Pac-10. The Big East is going to play the ACC. The next year, we are going to change who you are going to play. That would be one thing. We would get a better idea and be able to evaluate who the better teams are in the country by having the correlation of the conference people against one and another.

"The second thing I would do is say we are going back to the bowl affiliations with the conferences, and they are all going to be done by Jan. 1. I do not want to do anything to do away with the bowls. I was fortunate to go to 20-some bowls, and every one was a great experience. You tell the players at East Carolina when they beat Boise State in a bowl game that wasn't a great experience. Or tell them the heartbreaking loss, they lost to Arkansas this year, that wasn't a great experience.

"Let's make sure we keep the bowl system as we have it. But let's have all the bowls done on Jan. 1. Let's go back to the Big Ten plays the Pac-10 champion, the SEC goes to the Sugar Bowl.… Now, after Jan. 1 let's take the top four teams after that and let's come up with a four-team playoff. And let the championship be determined.

"Nobody's really asked me that at ESPN, nor do they really care what I think."

On working at ESPN: "One of the policies ESPN has is you can't show favoritism. I try to do that (said with a smile and greeted by laughter).

"Don't ask me to root against my son (South Florida coach Skip Holtz). Don't ask me to talk about Notre Dame and not be biased or any other place I've coached. I have an affiliation, these are places that have been good for me and are part of my life. What I do try to do is be honest, but I don't try to be overly negative on anything."


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