Dec. 20, 2013
An interview with:
JOHN HEISLER: We’re here to talk about future football schedules. Jack Swarbrick is here to walk you through what we’ve been working on for the better part of the last year.
We’ll turn it over to over to Jack Swarbrick.
JACK SWARBRICK: Thanks for being here. A long time coming here, I know. I’ll miss all of you calling me and asking me where the football schedules are – at least for a few years.
There has been a lot of focus during the pendency of the completing of this on the ordeal of this, how hard it was. This was not easy to accomplish. But I’d suggest to you that at least from our perspective, those in charge with administering the program, it was also a really unique opportunity. You don’t get this chance very often.
Everybody who sort of made a major move has been in a position where they’ve swapped a conference schedule for a conference schedule. This presented us with a very different opportunity. We had years where we had as many as 16 games under contract once we took the ACC commitment. So you had to step back and ask yourself, How are we going to make decisions here? What do we want to achieve?
It was a very interesting opportunity for us to really sit back and say, What do we want Notre Dame’s football scheduling to be? What are our priorities? What are our goals? In a sense, that was a fun exercise, great to engage in, think about, talk about.
What I’d like you to do is take you through those goals and talk about how the schedule which has been distributed reflects the achievement of those goals. With that, we’ll start going through them.
The first one is maintaining the 6 5 1 scheduling model. This is critical to meet the expectations of our fans, our community and our partners. We have to give our fans enough opportunities to come see us play here at Notre Dame, but we also want to maintain the Shamrock Series. We can’t achieve both of those ends without a 6 5 1 model, essentially a 7 5 scheduling model.
For our community, it’s important. For the hotels, restaurants who rely depend on Notre Dame for business, the unbalanced schedule is a difference maker. So, again, it was important to maintain.
And for our partners, we’ve made a commitment to our broadcast partner, for example, that we will provide seven broadcast opportunities. So we had to do this.
Our independence uniquely assists us in that regard. As conferences go to nine game schedules, in the years in which you have five away games if you’re a conference member, it’s much harder to maintain the unbalanced schedule. This, of course, is the convention of the industry.
Among the schools, the 65 schools, the five largest conferences, all of them pursue this. In fact, there were quite a few schools as I reviewed last year’s schedule who out of conference never played an away game. They had their entire slate of non conference games at home.
It’s an industry convention, everyone tries to do it. I think we’re uniquely enabled to do it because of independence, so we have to take advantage of it, have to deliver on it, and we have to do it, and we have.
The next one is satisfaction of our ACC commitment, of course, a commitment we are thrilled to embrace and have. Two points I’d make about it. As we go through the remainder of these goals, what you will see is virtually all of them have been enabled by that ACC commitment, not restrained by it.
Secondly, I would note that the complexity of this process is hard to overstate. We probably went through several hundred iterations of this schedule. Every time we went back to our partners at the ACC and said, How about this change, they could not have been more accommodating.
My thanks to the staff of the ACC and especially our partner schools in the ACC. We kept changing this thing and they kept rolling with the punches. If they hadn’t been that flexible, we wouldn’t have gotten where we are.
Third scheduling goal, continue the Shamrock Series. When we began this, we thought it was an interesting experiment. What it has become is a remarkable success story for the University and for our football program.
I have more people now ask me where the Shamrock Series game will be in a future year than any other question I get. They’re starting to plan their schedules around it. They love attending this game. We love what it does, where it takes us, iconic cities and venues all across the country. It so enables our overall goals for this program, it’s hard to overstate.
In the future, we are going to continue to evolve the Shamrock Series. We’ll add more to the Shamrock Series that serve the university and the football program. I’ll take you through the future scheduling matrix in a minute.
We’re going to really try and position this not only as a premiere Notre Dame football experience, but as a premiere college football game of the year. So we’re going to look really in future years to find the most compelling opponents we can for this game.
Next one, control the calendar. There’s several elements to this. But, again, our independence, our ability to take this overall look at our schedule and step back and say, What do we want to do, helped enable us.
We want to play on Saturday. That’s increasingly rare in our business. We want to play in well positioned spots on Saturday. We’re in prime time more than anybody else when you consider how many of our away games get moved to prime time. We’ll average, between the Shamrock Series and home night games we move, five of our own games every two years. Every two years, five games will be in prime time.
But when we’re not, we want a window. We want 3:30 on Saturday. We want you to find us. e don’t want to bounce around to different nights. Wherever our audience comes from all around the world, it doesn’t work for us to play mid week games, Thursday night games. We’ll do some of that on the road for sure. But when we’re playing here, we want to control that.
An important part of controlling the calendar, again the flexibility we have because we’re managing this process, is controlling where the byes are placed. That’s a strategic element for us. What is best for our student athletes? How do we help them from a preparation and a welfare perspective to make sure we’re giving them the best experience we can?
Next, preserve important rivalries. This, of course, has gotten the most attention as elements of the schedule have played out over time. I certainly understand it.
There’s been a lot of angst associated with it, but from my perspective it’s all good because there have been schedule changes all over college football in the past five years, left and right. With all the conference realignment that’s been going on, nobody has engendered the sort of reaction we have when we made the changes we had to make to fit all this together.
I can’t think of a higher form of flattery for Notre Dame football, that people got so upset at the prospect of losing games with us. It speaks to the power of the brand and the experience and the fact that their ticket prices are different for our visit, that they have fundraising campaigns built around our business.
I understand their anxiety. I understand why they’re disappointed why we can’t play them on a regular basis in the future. So there’s a positive side to that.
Notwithstanding that, we share their views that these rivalries are important. We had to ask ourselves, How do we order them? Which are the most important to us? In preserving the rivalries, we wound up with two different categories. One were the rivalries we wanted to maintain on an annual basis. Leading that for us was USC. The history of that game, the number of Heisman Trophy winners that have played in it, the number of national championships which the winner has come out of that game, the length of that rivalry, the intersectional nature of it, makes it unique for us. So that was first.
You could only maintain that rivalry and meet our objectives as the scheduling requirements of the USC and PAC 12 if you paired it with another PAC 12 school. The logical partner for us was Stanford, a school that hits so many markers for us in terms of a rival.
It’s interesting when people talk strength of schedule, who is on our schedule, who is not, how often they don’t mention Stanford.
In the past four years of the final BCS rankings, Stanford has been fifth, sixth, fourth and fourth. Nobody has been close to that in the country in the past four years, nobody.
Not only did they help us from a scheduling perspective, get us to California every year, allow the PAC 12 to balance their schedule, they hit our other markers as well.
Then the third is Navy. Navy has everything to do with the story of the relationship between the two universities. It has little to do with football. That’s what Notre Dame football does: it serves the interest of the University.
We want to continue to honor that unique history. We love the fact that Navy takes us around the country to great venues. The next game is in Washington, D.C. That one was the third one on the annual rivalry list.
For the ones that couldn’t make that list, valuable rivals to be sure, schools we have enormous respect for and enjoy playing, our goal was to figure out ways to play them occasionally. As you see in the schedule, that’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to figure out how to make that happen.
Next, maximize geographic reach. Fundamental to Notre Dame football. We play coast to coast. Jesse Harper made that decision a hundred years ago. It changed the trajectory of the football program and the University, and we’re not going to stray from it. We’re going to stay connected to that. That’s important. We wanted to make sure the schedule achieves that.
Now, I’ve used a different sort of window in my analysis than John did in the press release. I think he used six years. I’m looking at a four year window because that’s what our student athletes experience, what happens in a four year period of time, what is their experience.
In the four year period of time, from ’13 to ’16, the focus of what we’re talking about today, we will play in nine of the 12 largest cities in the United States. The only three we won’t play in during that four year period of time, Chicago we were just in and will be in again, Miami just doesn’t happen to fall in the four year period of time but we will visit, and that leaves only Houston as a top 12 market that this schedule doesn’t get us to, so we’ll be looking to get to Houston. We’ll be in nine of the ten largest Catholic communities in the United States, consistent with this University and its mission.
Of course, we’ll be coast to coast. Syracuse will take us to the Meadowlands. We’ll be in San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. We’ll be as far south as Miami. We’ll be around the country. Notre Dame football has to do that.
Next we want to play in special places. When we’re not here, the most special place in the world to play football, we want to take our student athletes to other special places. You have seen us do that with the Shamrock Series. The opponents we’ve scheduled help us do that, whether it’s the Coliseum in Los Angeles, extraordinary venue, or taking the Shamrock Series game not merely to Boston but to Fenway Park and being the first school to play a football game there in 45 years. We want to take our young people to special places.
We want to maintain the strength of schedule. Our strength of schedule has held up very well in recent years. We want to continue that. We, like everyone else, believe that is of special importance going forward in the new college playoff model. It will be a factor of significance to the Selection Committee.
John has given you some statistics. You can analyze the schedule for yourself. But just focusing on ’14, next year’s schedule, I’d put that schedule from a strength of schedule perspective against any school in the country.
Of the final BCS rankings for this year, our 2014 schedule includes three of the top five schools in the BCS rankings. It includes six of the top 25. Half of our schools are ranked in the top 25 of the BCS rankings this year. Others on that schedule appeared in the BCS rankings during the year but aren’t in the final ones.
Strength of schedule for us. Beyond the performance of the individual teams, also relates to getting Notre Dame to have games against all the major conferences. During this four year window I’m using, ’13 to ’16, we’ll play 15 games against ACC opponents, nine against Big Ten opponents, 10 against PAC 12 opponents, three against Big 12 opponents. We have as a scheduling priority beyond this period of time finding a way to work SEC opponents into our schedule.
Part of the room we needed to clear in the decisions we were making relative to the schools we wouldn’t be able to continue to play on a regular basis, but to create that future opportunity for us, to make sure that we’re able to say we covered the waterfront of conferences in the way we built our schedule, so when that Selection Committee is evaluating us against other conferences, it has a marker to do that with.
I would suspect that virtually all of these are criteria that you probably anticipated. The next one you might not have, and it’s the most important one to me, the one I am most proud of our achievement on, that is to play like institutions.
There are 18 FBS schools in the U.S. News and World Report top 50. Our schedule in this four year period, we will play seven of those top 10. Of the top 10 rated FBS academic institutions, according to U.S. News and World Report, we will play seven of them. Over the course of the schedule, we’ll play 11 of the total 18 that are in the top 50.
Again, I think that’s unique in college football. I’m especially proud that with all the other things we were balancing, making sure it’s a great schedule, making sure we get around the country, honoring rivalries, satisfying our commitments, we could still find a way to do this, because it’s one of the things that distinguishes Notre Dame football.
So those are the criteria or goals we used. It produces these building blocks, of course. The five ACC games, always two home, always two away, the swing game of home or away, then USC, Stanford or Navy. In a sense you might say we’re in a situation comparable to a conference team who has an eight game conference schedule.
Outside of that we’ll do the Shamrock Series game and the extra home game that allows us to produce the unbalanced schedule. Critical to achieving that. This, of course, is a game where your opponent does not expect a return visit. Some of you write and refer to them as a bye game. That leaves us, as you look at these building blocks, with one home and one away to play with on a regular basis.
Looking at how that plays out in ’14, ’15 and ’16, you have the schedule on a calendar basis in front of you, this reflects it on the building block basis.
Sort of the last piece of the puzzle in achieving the result we needed to achieve here, in order to keep Northwestern on the schedule, in ’14 was to play four ACC, six in ’15 and five in ’16, rather than 5 5 5. In order to do that Wake Forest moved from ’14 to ’15 and we used Boston College as a Shamrock Series game.
Just as an aside here, a lot of people helped us in this process. You learn a lot about your colleagues in this process. Nobody helped us more than Ron Wellman who dug in and became somebody who said, Let me try to help you figure this out, had to do a whole lot of things on his end to make this happen, but reflective of how our ACC colleagues generally approached this. So with that we were able to achieve the necessary balance.
A word about the Shamrock Series games. The Shamrock Series games work best for us when you can clearly articulate the theme or purpose around them. Next year is pretty obvious. Going to our state capital, the university who is increasingly growing in its research capabilities, increasingly engaged in partnership with the state’s other research institutions, a great opportunity to celebrate all of that, by going to what I think is one of the great venues in America, without question one of the great festival areas, why Indy hosts so many Final Fours.
Boston, celebrating the Irish Catholic tradition of Notre Dame and of course our strong East Coast presence playing in an iconic venue, I think that’s going to be an incredibly special evening when we are there.
Then finally one that we came to late but really got enthused about as we figured it out, and that’s Army at San Antonio on Veterans Day weekend, a city that has among the largest military presence in the United States, to really celebrate the fundamental notion of God, country, Notre Dame that’s built into the fabric of this University and to celebrate the service of military personnel and all they do for this country.
Each game carries a theme. Each game takes us to a different part of the country. Like Indianapolis, San Antonio is an extraordinary environment to celebrate, to have a gathering like this, so that will be great.
With our extra home game we’re also very intentional about this, about how we do it. So in the case of Rice, we’re meeting that like institution standard, one of the best universities in the country, we create an opportunity to partner with them and play.
The other two reflect another factor that will be important for us, has been important and will be important in the bye games. We like to play our family. Coach Molnar at UMass, Coach Polian at Nevada. As our coaches move around, you can anticipate future games that might be down the line here.
We want to use that not just to fill a slot but to fill one of the others criteria we have in what we’re trying to achieve here.
Then the home and away dynamic. The conclusion of the current Michigan series, the second part of the ASU home and away from last year, having them in the Shamrock Series game, the Texas pairing which has been announced before, and then Michigan State. Temple was a game we were excited about and didn’t want to lose because its takes us to Philadelphia, an NFL venue, part of a two for one scheduling dynamic that helps make this work also.
From the building block perspective, that’s how we produced the schedule you see in calendar form.
Let me take you out a little further so you can anticipate and understand some of the challenges or the elements that we’ll be dealing with in the future.
We actually know, although we’re not sharing them today, we actually have penciled in the ACC opponents all the way through ’22 in our discussions with the ACC, subject to change as those schools’ schedules get ironed out. That’s why we’re not showing them today. But that piece of it is well set.
You could have penciled the Navy, USC and Stanford sequence as they go out. The three Shamrock Series games which we’ve announced today, the home games. But the thing really to focus on here is scheduling dynamics going forward in that we don’t have away game inventory right now to offer anybody as part of a home and home until effectively ’22. There’s a two in this column because we still have two contracts and eight teams. One of them will stay in this slot. We’ll likely move the other one here as an away game.
But as we’re contemplating future home and home relationships, the first time you start to get clean slates where you compare a home game here with an away game here happens in ’22.
Working our way through this, paying forward the Temple game, matching up the Michigan State, resolving the Purdue situation, used up a lot of inventory. It’s one of the reasons the Shamrock Series games are going to be so critical for us. With the limited away game inventory for us, we’re going to focus on these to pick up some of those rivals we can’t play on a regular basis, to hopefully get ourselves with SEC opponents, to do the various scheduling things that we need to achieve as part of that.
With that I think I’ve gotten through all I want to, so I’ll open it up to questions.
Q. Jack, 2015, looks like the first time in a hundred years there’s no Big Ten team on the schedule. How much is that a product of them going to a nine game conference schedule? How much of it is just expanding beyond the Midwest states for recruiting?
JACK SWARBRICK: It’s both. I mean, their flexibility was limited by the nine game schedule. But so, too, was our challenge of meeting these goals of trying to figure out how we would get all this done. It’s probably 50/50. They had less flexibility on when we could play, and we had more things we were trying to work out. So I’d say it’s a combination.
Q. You mentioned the opportunity for Miami or Connecticut to be on the future schedule.
JACK SWARBRICK: Everybody, frankly. We have somebody go be an AD somewhere, coaching, it will continue to be a factor. Sometimes the balance will shift. We can pick up a Rice and play peer institutions, sometimes we have a friend in a position with an open schedule. I always want to have some basis for articulating why that decision was made. I don’t want to get it because the cost of buying game A was cheaper than the cost of buying game B. I want to have a reason for playing that opponent.
Q. When you talked about bye weeks, strategically placing them, are you specifically looking around midterm week or before a game such as a Florida State or a USC?
JACK SWARBRICK: It has more to do with where it falls in the overall schedule than trying to say, We want a bye right before this team. A little bit in the near term has been trying to look at a team you think you’ll have, is it a team that might need a bye early because it’s young. Generally, though, it’s not about the opponent on either side of it. Fall break does play a significant role in it. We like to avoid having home games on both ends of fall break. It’s tough on our students, our student fans. While we’re willing to do it on one end of fall break, we’ve tried not to do it on both ends of fall break.
Q. You mentioned you wanted to add more elements to the Shamrock Series games. Can you share some of those that you plan to do?
JACK SWARBRICK: University based largely. One of the reasons it’s been so successful revolves around the academic conferences, social service projects, mass with the bishop or archbishop in the area. I think it’s a lot more that, a lot more things that really extend.
Anything you can find in a Notre Dame home weekend game day experience we want to consider whether we can import it or not. Every year it’s grown. Every year there have been more elements. We’ll continue to have a pep rally and do other things.
Then the other thing we’ll continue to add, as I said earlier, it’s an inexact science of trying to match venue with opponent, so you can’t dictate it. It’s an open negotiation to try to find something that works.
But our goal in that negotiation is going to be really to try to build this notion of a really prominent in season game that has great significance to the success of the two teams playing.
Q. A few years ago there was a game in Soldier Field that was really pretty awkward in terms of being able to fit an actual football field in there. Were there any unique challenges of getting football back into Fenway, dimension problems?
JACK SWARBRICK: We spent a lot of time mapping it, staking it. The Yankees will tell you when we went there the first time, we drove them crazy. We had to outline the entire field. We had to walk in and see it. We weren’t looking for a superimposed image of it.
It’s going to be tight. It’s hard to be in a baseball stadium and not have it be difficult. But we wouldn’t do it if we thought there was any risk to the safety of the players.
Q. Do you envision the SEC being Shamrock Series games rather than home and homes? Is it more realistic?
SWARBRICK: Yeah, it’s going to be tough with our home and home inventory. Certainly with the future home and home inventory, it will be a priority for us. But in the near term, maybe one form it might take is three, so it’s home, Shamrock and away, with the away being on the back end of it. Those are the sorts of things we’re looking for.
Q. I see in the release the Michigan game is going to be a night game next year. Are you comfortable keeping one South Bend or one Notre Dame stadium game (indiscernible) prime time beyond those windows?
JACK SWARBRICK: In a rolling two year period, we will have five night games. So we will have years with two home night games plus the Shamrock Series. The typical model will be in year one, one home night in the Shamrock Series, year two, two home night Shamrock Series, rotating like that.
Q. The ACC, does it make it easier to do that? What control do you have of the bye home games?
JACK SWARBRICK: They’re our home games so we have complete control over them. It’s not a function of the opponent. That’s our commitment to NBC. So we and NBC talk together. Part of it has to do with what their scheduling conflicts are.
We build this schedule without regard to that. Once it’s built, we say to NBC, What games or game do you want for the night game, and we have that discussion. When it falls on our calendar is a factor, their scheduling is a factor, and we come to an agreement as to which ones it will be. In ’14 there will be one. My guess in ’15 there will be two prime time home games, plus the Shamrock Series.
Q. In what time span?
JACK SWARBRICK: Rolling two years. Two Shamrock Series and three home night games in any two year period.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK SWARBRICK: It was a very significant factor. Some of it, trading off or balancing against other factors. The extra game on the schedule, you’ll get the best opponent as you can in that space, but especially as you get out in a number of years, it’s hard to predict. I have great confidence Brian Polian will have great success at Nevada. We project that will be a very good game, but we don’t know. It was very important. You’re looking at it a little bit in the context of the five games you’re getting from the ACC. Florida State in ’14, really help crank the schedule. Clemson in ’15, likely to help crank the schedule. You’re balancing the rest of it against the ACC inventory in the rest of those years, how that works.
The ACC was great, again, in working with us. We didn’t wind up with the first year of Florida State, Clemson and Miami. We have that quality throughout so it helps the strength of schedule.
It’s not perfect. There’s some years because of a decision you made in ’14 or ’15, you worry a little bit about the strength of schedule in another year. But generally speaking, we’re pretty happy with it.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK SWARBRICK: The focus on getting to the conferences is a direct result of that. I think the Selection Committee is going to wind up with a measure of strength of schedule by conference. So you want to be able to give them a marker for you against the conference. We got to create a marker against the SEC. But against everything else, I feel really good about it.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK SWARBRICK: I make him sit in the office with me at 4:00 in the morning when we’re doing this (laughter).
No, it’s been perfect. I don’t want to drag him into the 200 iterations of this. We have key questions. We bring them to him. When we think we’re getting close to closing out a year, we bring them to him, What do you think? He always has good input. Sometimes he’s moved a bye week. Another time he has said, That opponent at this location, I’m not thrilled with.
We don’t have him down to the nuts and bolts. When we think we get close to a final product, we bring it to him. He has that input that way. Chad Klunder, sitting in the back of the room, plays a key role, works hand in hand with John and I on trying to build this thing. Q. Switching gears just a little bit, any updates on stadium renovations?
JACK SWARBRICK: I had to leave a meeting on that to come over here.
Thrilled with how it’s progressing. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to do something like this at a university where you have a project that touches almost every element of it. So you’ve got the academic units who will be in the building, very engaged, the academy who is playing a big role, student affairs, rec sports, digital media, athletics, the administration. All of these functions will be incorporated in these buildings as currently conceived. This has been really fun and exhilarating for everybody involved.
The progress has been great. Getting to a real level of detail. That’s where we need to be as we head into the winter trustee meeting where we’ll do another review of it. There’s no set deadline for it, but we hope we come out of that with the ability to move forward in a substantive way. So it’s full speed away.
Q. Any kind of vague timetable?
JACK SWARBRICK: Assuming we get the go ahead this winter to start the fundraising and the detailed architectural drawings, best case scenario would be following next season we’ll start working. It would take us two more seasons when you’re thinking about this to get it done. A very big project, but a very exciting one.
Q. The ACC has had a lot of success with their Monday Labor Day games, also the Thursday ones. Did they ask if you were open to that at all?
JACK SWARBRICK: Yes, they have, and we are. Got to work with what we’ve now got in place. Certainly open to playing in the Labor Day opener if we can find the right game, moving one of our ACC opponents to the opening game. In the two years coming up, we have Texas already in that slot, so we couldn’t do it then. Where we can have an opening, we’re open to it.
We understand when we’re on the road we may be asked to play on Thursday. With the ACC, we won’t host those games. Occasionally, but not regularly, we’ll have a Thursday night.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK SWARBRICK: No. The issue of video in the stadium will be resolved, addressed as part of a larger design, what we’re doing there. Until that’s done, until we’ve worked our way through all those issues, it will be just one element of the figuring out the design of the stadium. We’re engaged right now addressing the turf. We’re looking at every option. The biggest factor for me as I evaluate the options, beyond what is going to give the best results to student athletes, is how would the timetable play out.
Let’s eliminate a hybrid field for a moment, because I don’t think that would work for Notre Dame. That’s what the Packers have. It involves a level of expense, systems that probably don’t make sense for us. So you have synthetic and grass.
If we were to stay with natural turf, real grass, we’re going to go way down and rebuild the field. We’re not going to take the top six inches off. We’re going to go all the way down to the base, drainage, do a complete rebuild of the field.
One of the reasons it’s been so bad, we take off one layer of sod and put down another layer of sod. We haven’t addressed the real issues we have to address. What is the timetable for that? It is a big project. How would that work? How would that work with commencement? What is your confidence that the field will be what it needs to be? Versus the timetable of synthetic? From a financial perspective, it’s a push. The cost of what we would be talking about with grass is probably going to be a comparable investment.
So all that is being developed now. We talked to all the providers of both systems. We have bids from them. We’re working through the analysis. Sometime in the first quarter we have to make that decision and decide which trigger to pull.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK SWARBRICK: By the beginning of next season we’ll be either playing on a new grass field or new synthetic field. We’ll pull this trigger in January, February, something. The key markers are spring game and commencement. Opening day, spring game, commencement, how in that calendar do you replace that field?
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK SWARBRICK: Yeah, you know, each of those relationships, each of those contracts was unique. You were dealing with elements of the contract frankly. So we got a lot of attention in the Michigan situation about Michigan being the first school we addressed in it. We had a sequence for how we were going to address the schools based on the contracts, not based on our view of school A versus school B. The Michigan contract, at Michigan’s request, had a provision that allowed you to stop the contract from rolling over. Once we made the ACC commitment, we knew we had to stop the roll over while we figured out what we were doing.
That was a pretty easy decision, the first one to make. For what it’s worth, we did not communicate by handing the AD a letter on the sideline. A letter on the sideline came after a phone call that said, I’m going to give you a letter to commemorate this conversation. But be that as it may, that was easy. Arizona State was the next one we had to take on. The sequence of these were dictated by the way the contracts were. As you’re resolving them, working with your colleagues, you’re dealing with liquidated damages in contracts, how long the term was. So beyond our interest in playing Big Ten schools, including Michigan in the future, I hope we can find dates when we can play them, dealing with the reality of the contracts. It dictates in part where you wind up.
Q. What is the nature of the BYU agreement? Has that changed now?
JACK SWARBRICK: Nothing has changed about it at this point. It was two three game groupings, two Notre Dame home games, one at BYU. We’ve consumed the two Notre Dame home game portion of the first three game set we’ve got to get out to BYU, then we have another three games. It’s conceivable the dates of those may be modified, but we just haven’t frankly thought about it or addressed it. We’ve been focused on this three year window.
Q. Jack, I don’t know if you said it or how it came out. It sounded like New York was another option to return for the Shamrock Series. Did the Pinstripe Bowl have any effect on that?
JACK SWARBRICK: Yes, the Pinstripe Bowl did have an effect. We were thrilled going back to Yankee Stadium. It helped check that box a little bit. But also the fact that Syracuse is taking our visits to Syracuse to the Meadowlands. As a result of those two things, we’re going to have a very regular presence in New York during the next three years, which of course is important to us. So we’re accomplishing that through those mechanisms.
Q. With Fenway, you talked about the playing field, restrictions you overcame. What kind of challenges are there with taking your show to a stadium that seats probably half of what you normally play in front of?
JACK SWARBRICK: It’s not a challenge, it’s an opportunity to have a standard setting ticket price, I think. That’s the reality of going to a smaller venue, a special venue, one of the great venues in America. To make the game work economically with that many seats, it will be a premium ticket price. I don’t know what it will be. Haven’t figured that out yet.
But we need the economics of the Shamrock Series games to approach the economics of a home game. When you’re reducing by half the amount of seat inventory you have, you do have to make an adjustment in price.
Thank you all.
JOHN HEISLER: Thank you.