Oct 17, 2013, 12:42 AM EDT
Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.
With the Irish fresh off a Shamrock Series win and getting Saturday off, there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about before getting into USC. I’m not one to get into the season-predicting business, but the schedule looked a whole lot beatable after Saturday. Stanford, the last remaining ranked foe, fell from #5 to #13 in the AP poll after losing to the Utes.
So you can use the bye week to speculate about the remaining slate. But I’m going to play a different guessing game. After last week, some people might have been wondering what future Shamrock Series games would look like. Another baseball stadium? Another game in Europe? The moon? The possibilities are endless.
I’d imagine that next year’s schedule has to come out soon, so this game will only be fun for a short window. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments section.
Disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m talking about or if any of these are actual possibilities. I’m guessing the moon is out.
Guess #1: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Obviously, a major draw of the Shamrock Series is recruiting. We’ve now played two games in Texas, where a lot of blue-chip recruits come from: Corey Robinson, Torii Hunter, Jr., Boobie Miles.
But the Irish have also raided SEC country, recruiting the likes of Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, and Greg Bryant from Georgia and Florida. Since Notre Dame hasn’t played at an SEC school since Tennessee in 2004, I definitely don’t see them passing up a chance to take a game to the southeast.
Who would the Irish play? Opponents are all filled for the next three years, so it probably won’t be a surprise. Playing the Longhorns in the Georgia Dome would be pretty cool, but I doubt either school would want to take away a home game. But they could add another game to the schedule, or I could also see new ACC foes there. Louisville maybe? Michigan has shown they’re not averse to neutral site games, but there’s no way we’ll take away the last scheduled game in that series away from Notre Dame.
Other possibilities: Superdome, New Orleans. Sun-Life Stadium, Miami.
Guess #2: Candlestick Park, San Francisco
Edit: I totally forgot the 49ers were moving to a new park, so change this one to Levi’s Stadium. Playing a game in a brand new stadium would definitely fit the Shamrock Series, though.
Speaking of recruiting, California has always been a pipeline for Notre Dame. In maneuvering around the new ACC deal, Jack Swarbrick has stated the importance of playing Stanford to ensure the Irish have one trip to the West Coast every November.
If this is a Shamrock location, obviously playing Stanford would make sense. The 2011 game in Washington, D.C. showed the “neutral” site could be very close to our opponent. And maybe Stanford would allow a game so close to their campus (about 30 miles) to count as one of their home games in the series.
But the reason I picked Candlestick and not, say, the Rose Bowl, is the connection the 49ers have to Notre Dame. Team owner Jed York graduated from Notre Dame, and students might recognize the name Eddie Debartolo, Jr., who was the long-time owner before York.
Other possibilities: Rose Bowl, Pasadena. O.co Coliseum, Oakland, haha. Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.
Guess #3: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Swarbrick has a ton of Indy connections – he practiced at a law firm there before coming to Notre Dame and was part of the committee that got the Super Bowl to come to Lucas Oil in 2012.
Last year’s game in Chicago showed Swarbrick has no qualms about playing close to home, and that 2012 Super Bowl garnered rave reviews for the city. In fact, I’m most sure about this as a Shamrock Series location. Book it.
The real question is who to play here. I can see almost anyone on the schedule as a possibility besides the obvious no’s (USC, Michigan, probably Stanford, probably Texas). Your guess is as good as mine.
Other Possibilities: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette. And while we’re making jokes, Penn High School, Mishawaka.
Guess #4: PNC Park, Pittsburgh.
I mentioned earlier that I could see another baseball park being an option. This is a little iffy since I have no idea which parks can be converted to football fields and which can’t.
But I saw a string of baseball games this summer to check out different parks and got to see PNC for the first time. I know everyone always raves about it, but the hype is real. Seeing a football game there would be gorgeous.
In the same mold as Stanford at Candlestick, we could play Pittsburgh there, but really any opponent is a possibility.
But I have no reason to pick PNC over any other baseball park – I just really like it. Dodger Stadium could work if Swarbrick is looking for that California game. Really, any highly regarded park is a possibility. I would guess Wrigley, but Notre Dame just played in Chicago, so I doubt it.
Other possibilities: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. Fenway Park, Boston. Busch Stadium, St. Louis.
If you also feel the need to speculate, definitely comment. If you’re really adventurous, add some sketches of what you think the uniforms will be. I’m guessing these for PNC.
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