Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 26, 2019*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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8 OCT. 26, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Rotating Other Big Ten Teams Is My Preferred Route By Lou Somogyi While the series with the Wolverines that has been almost annual since 1978 has been outstanding for the two schools and college football, I like Notre Dame rotating other Big Ten schools into the mix throughout the 2020s. It would still be appealing to have at least a two-game series with Michigan once in the 2020s, but with a slate that will usually include four to six ACC foes, yearly contests against USC and Stan- ford (which allows the Irish to keep a presence in California) plus Navy, trying to force this Michigan matchup when you also want schools from the SEC — and maybe even the Big 12 — on the slate would not be prudent. The SEC representation in the 2020s so far in- cludes Arkansas next year and 2025, Texas A&M (2024-25) and Alabama (2028-29) — and it would not be a surprise if one or maybe even two others are included in the next decade. Maybe the Big 12 can be incorporated as well with league linchpins such as Oklahoma (2012-13) and Texas (2015-16). From the Big Ten, the matchups with Wisconsin (2020-21), Ohio State (2022-23), Purdue (2021 and 2024-28) and Michigan State (2026-27) pro- vide a blend of tradition with exciting new competition as well. The tie-in with the ACC provides a little less flexibility in scheduling, but from it has come more versatility. There is no need to force the Wolverines into the mix, although a home-and-home each decade would continue to stoke the fires in that rivalry. Michigan Series Would Boost Notre Dame's Schedule By Todd D. Burlage Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick has a big problem on his hands and one convenient way to start solving it. First the problem: Notre Dame's foot- ball schedule isn't very good this year, and it doesn't appear that it will be much better next year. Don't blame Swarbrick. Blame, instead, the fad- ing programs at USC, Stanford and Navy. For years, these three annual staples on the Notre Dame schedule provided the Irish great competition and a chance to bolster its postseason profile against three perennial bowl participants. Not anymore. These three teams combined to go just 17-21 in 2018 and were only 9-6 together heading into mid-October. Now the solution: With no conference champi- onship game to play in and an unwavering commitment to independence, Notre Dame needs to enhance its schedule if it wants to remain College Football Playoff relevant. And a good place to start is by removing Navy and adding Michigan to it every year. With all due respect to the historic series with the Midshipman, interest level and earning power have evolved dramatically in college football. And what better way to capitalize on both then by adding an annual date with the Wolver- ines. The Middies are welcome as an occasional home-and-home or one-and- done opponent on future schedules — heck, we will even meet you in Dublin. But an annual series with Michigan is what the fans and the CFP committee needs to see, not another boring Irish win over Navy. Point ✦ Counterpoint: SHOULD NOTRE DAME PLAY MICHIGAN ON AN ANNUAL BASIS AGAIN? PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA As a two-time breast can- cer survivor, a warrior for im- proved wellness and the wife of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly, Paqui Kelly uses her experiences and plat- form to raise awareness — and money — to help adults and children adopt healthier living habits now instead of later. October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and through the efforts and events outlined in "Paqui's Playbook" via the Kelly Cares Foundation (, Pa- qui's many missions are always gaining steam and support. The Kelly Cares Foundation has already given back $5.4 million to more than 200 or- ganizations since 2008. BGI: What is most important for people to con- sider when deciding to adopt a push and a plan to better health? Kelly: "Practical thinking. You didn't grow that beer belly in two weeks, why do you think you're going to lose it in two weeks? Try to be realistic about your life moving forward, whether you have had a major illness or not. "And with kids, obesity is a huge issue. Small changes can make a big impact. And the longer you do it, the better the impact and the better the change." BGI: And how do you view everything you've done so far and what you want to do? Kelly: "People often say to me, 'Wow, that's how much we raised?' and I think that's important with a list of goals to knock out. But it's almost more pleasurable saying , 'Hey, can you believe we did this?' "This is all under the pre- tense of having the ability and the platform that people are going to listen to and then do some common-sense things that will definitely im- pact some other people's lives. That's the mission." BGI: How is being the wife of the Notre Dame head football coach different from being Brian Kelly's wife at other coaching stops? Kelly: "The job has always been there but each place is a different community and has a little dif- ferent feel to it, obviously. But Notre Dame is a very special place. I think we both knew when he was offered the job, we knew that our lives were going to change because it's a different job on so many levels. "A friend of ours told us when we decided, 'You won't know until you know.' Now we know, I think." BGI: And how has anything or everything changed? Kelly: "This day and age is so much different than 20 years ago when we started our journey, and I think Brian has done a really good job at managing it. The hardest part of this job is he's the CEO and his frontline is 18- to 22-year-olds. Who would want to run a company with 22-year- olds running the gamut? "But they're great kids here, and the people that want to come here are special, and the peo- ple that work here are special, so it's a really great environment for success." BGI: Paqui is a unique name; what is the story behind it? Kelly: "I'm named after my aunt Paqui, it's a Spanish nickname for Francisca. Francisca is a beautiful name, it's just too formal. Brian will in- troduce me as Francisca, but it's a rarity, depends on where we're at. "It always seems funny coming out of his mouth. I'm usually in trouble when he's saying 'PAQUI!' in the coaching voice. I know I better hurry. I just don't know if I'm hurrying toward him or away from him!" — Todd D. Burlage Five Questions With … PAQUI KELLY Kelly uses her experiences and platform to raise awareness — and money — to help adults and children adopt healthier living habits now instead of later. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA

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