Arizona State AD Steve Patterson has pulled out the religion card.
He’s not the first to do so, but it may be a first involving a football game. It seems Patterson doesn’t like the way Notre Dame is signaling its intent to back out of a 2014 game with the Sun Devils.
The Irish have to make some schedule adjustments to meet fulfill their obligation of five ACC games a year once they join the conference in every sport but football. What has Patterson so peeved is that Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick didn’t call him.
Instead, the Irish’s sports information office allegedly relayed the message. It's not quite back-channel communcations, but it's also not the best way to handle this flammable situation.
Hence the religion card.
“At least in the little Catholic town I grew up in — Beaver Dam, Wis. — the good nuns wouldn’t have thought that was a very appropriate way to honor your word,” Patterson is quoted as saying.
At this point nothing is official, but we’ve all seen this before. These type of rumors quickly become reality and instead of Arizona State pushing a great home schedule in 2014 that includes Brian Kelly and the Irish, the Sun Devils are plugging Alcorn State or Northern Arizona into that Oct. 25 slot on the schedule.
Of course, Notre Dame has other options. The Irish could drop games with anyone on the schedule but Syracuse and Pittsburgh, which give them two of the five necessary ACC games for 2014.
A realistic option would be a road game with Temple on Oct. 11, 2014. If I had to guess, Notre Dame will dump the Owls soon.
Backing out of signed agreements is a shady business for ADs, but with all of the realignment we have witnessed over the past three seasons no one should ever be shocked by this type of news — especially someone as much in the know as Patterson.
It makes sense to fight for the game, and he knows very few people will come to Notre Dame’s defense. The Sun Devils will get a shot at the Irish this fall when they play at Jerry World. So the best way to deal with this is to beat Notre Dame.
There's also the real possibility that Notre Dame will pay a hefty price to get out of this contract. But the Irish have to make some moves and they realize it will cost them.
But if I were Patterson, I’d start calling Northwestern State or Murray State to see if they have an opening in 2014.