Purdue-Notre Dame Likely At Lucas Oil In 2014 For Shamrock Series

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal & Courier reports that Purdue vs. Notre Dame at Lucas Oil Stadium is all but a done deal.

I have to credit Boiler in France for finding this tidbit, but it looks like the rumored game between Purdue and Notre Dame in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium is a go for 2014. Originally Purdue was scheduled to play in South Bend next season, but the unbalanced Big Ten schedule conflicting with when Purdue goes on the road (even-numbered years) has placed the long-running series in jeopardy. Purdue and Notre Dame have played every season since 1946, with Navy dating back to 1927 as the only regular opponent the Fighting Irish have played longer.

Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal & Courier is reporting the game at Lucas Oil is all but done deal:

"We’re going to play on a periodic basis but we’re not going to play every year," Burke said, referring to the annual series with the Fighting Irish.

Although no official announcement has been made, the two schools will play at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis next season as part of the Shamrock Series, which is a Notre Dame home game at a neutral site.

The news of a break in the Purdue-Notre Dame series, possibly starting in 2015, is not a surprise. The Irish have a deal where they will play five ACC teams each season and combined with Navy and other contracts there has to be some give. Starting in 2016 Purdue also only has three non-conference slots instead of four with the new nine-game Big Ten schedule. Since Purdue will have only four Big Ten home games in even-numbered years Morgan Burke most likely wants three home non-conference games to keep the current seven-game home schedule and revenues flowing. For that to happen the home-and-home series simply has to shift.

At first it was thought that the Lucas Oil game next year would allow for that shift. Purdue could then go to south bend in 2016 with the Irish returning to West Lafayette in 2016. It would also be beneficial to Purdue, because the new conference re-alignment has Indiana hosting the Old Oaken Bucket game in 2014 for a second straight year before returning to Purdue. That would mean, as things stand now, Purdue would get both Notre Dame AND Indiana at Ross-Ade in odd-numbered years and no in-state rival in even-numbered years.

With the Irish going off the schedule Morgan Burke is even (gasp!) looking at more night games:

We’ve reached a point where hosting one night game a season, or one every two years, has become the norm. Those decisions rest with TV, but you have to give the networks a reason to put your school in prime time. Part of that is your program. The other part is who you’re playing.

Burke seems to like non-conference opponents for night games, but, as we know, he won't budge on them unless TV pays for temporary lights. Losing Notre Dame hurts here, because, like them or not, they are a "name program" and ESPN is more than happy to pay for lights when they play a road game not on the NBC contract. It gets Purdue in the spotlight for an evening too. As another down side Purdue loses Michigan and Ohio State from the home schedule until 2017. Those two are the bigger names in Big Ten football, but the Wolverines don't return until 2017 and Ohio State until 2018. that rules out two very strong chances of a home conference night game (the last one was Ohio State in 2007).

The simplest solution is, of course, to actually install lights so we don't have to worry about TV paying for them. Indiana played multiple night games and had several 3:30 kickoffs this season. Why? BECAUSE THEY HAVE LIGHTS!!!! Purdue is getting a little extra money from the Big Ten bowl payouts this season because the conference got two teams into a BCS bowl. There is also all that sweet, sweet Rotel and Barbasol money coming from the Big Ten.

Night games bring bigger crowds, so that is even more money when there are more butts in the seats even if you're playing Directional State MAC school. It is quite simple, but as we have seen time and again, Morgan won't budge. There are also few "name" non-conference teams coming to Ross-Ade outside of the Big Ten. The biggest name is SEC finalist Missouri in 2017 or 2018. That could mean a wait of four years before a big, prime time home game, be it on ABC, ESPN, or even Big Ten Network. As you know, BTN does not pay for temporary lights like ESPN, and since Morgan won't do it BTN surely isn't going to schedule one when it has 10 other venues it can use for prime time with no hassle at all.

Instead, Purdue continues to look backwards as one of now only four BCS-level programs without permanent lights, joining Northwestern, Michigan State, and Iowa. Ohio State is leaving that group with permanent lights on the way. Iowa already has the standards in place and simply needs to add a few more fixtures to already existing practice lights.

It cost less than $2 million to install permanent lights at Michigan Stadium a few years ago, and it is far bigger than Ross-Ade. Michigan State fans have a similar clamor for lights, as do Northwestern fans. With only four (really three and a half) teams still holding out and 10 in the conference with permanent lights it may be only a matter of time before Burke has Purdue as the Wrigley Field of College Football.

It is amazing how he can screw up something as very simple as installing permanent lights and keeping a guaranteed sellout game on the schedule.

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