The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 8, 2010

Fighting Irish need to get in or get out

MORGANTOWN — It has been my firm feeling for a long time that Notre Dame should either become a full member of the Big East or get out.

That is, the Fighting Irish ought to compete in football along with basketball and all of the other sports that they play therein.

That way Notre Dame could qualify for the football championship and bowls at the Big East’s disposal, just like regular members.

For several years now, the Fighting Irish have been permitted to represent the Big East once every four years. It used to be an agreement with the Gator Bowl and now it’s with the new Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Indeed, Notre Dame (7-5) was a possible pick for that Dec. 28 contest before West Virginia (9-3, co-champion and ranked 21st nationally), was chosen to meet North Carolina State (8-4, 5-3) of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

With TCU already set as a member in the Big East expansion, what better time for Notre Dame to expand its scope to include football membership?

That certainly would be a strong addition to the football league in the Big East.

And you’d think the other presidents, athletic directors and coaches would welcome such a move.

It simply has not seemed fair to permit Notre Dame to bump a Big East school from any of the better bowls, as has been a past practice on occasion.

The other nine football league members should urge the powers-that-be to settle the matter one way or the other.

———

To one who predicted West Virginia to be 11-1 if not 12-0 in regular-season play, I’m disappointed that its offense never attained consistency and lacked punch in losses to Syracuse and Connecticut.

But I have been very much impressed with the passing performances of Geno Smith. At times he looked more like a senior instead of a sparkling sophomore that he is.

His 2,567 yards rank him No. 1 among all sophomore quarterbacks in WVU history. He moved ahead of Marc Bulger, who threw for 2,465 yards in 1997.

Smith is second all-time in single-season touchdown passes with 23. For 12 games, he has completed 219 of 333 passes for 2,567 yards and 23 touchdowns. He had six interceptions.

The extremely accurate, smart Miami, Fla., native is going to break many records with a bowl game and two full seasons left.

He also started rushing with the ball in mid-season to boost his threat and increase his productivity.

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