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Rumors fly about Texas-Notre Dame series

While these certainly aren’t the first rumors about a proposed series between two of college football’s premiere football programs, word broke yesterday from writer Chip Brown that Texas and Notre Dame are close to finalizing a contract on a home-and-home series starting in 2015.

Brown, who was out in front of the Texas/Big 12 realignment story for much of the offseason (and has been accused of being a Deloss Dodds puppet by some), first reported the news via Twitter, though hasn’t provided much more information other than a message board post restricted by a pay wall.

That said, the Austin American-Statesman’s Kirl Bohls shed more light on the situation yesterday evening, pointing to more than just a two game affair:

Texas is working hard to finalize a four-year, home-and-home football series with Notre Dame, starting in 2015, a school official said Tuesday, but the agreement has not been completed.

“It’s not a done deal,” the official said.

Texas administrators told the American-Statesman in June that they were trying to put together a series with the Irish but were trying to keep the arrangement quiet until the details were finalized.

The series would be played in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020. The sites for the games still have not been decided.

Longhorns head football coach Mack Brown said at Big 12 media days in Irving last Wednesday that he was interested in scheduling “Ohio State-type” non-conference games early in the season to bolster Texas’ strength of schedule rating in the computer and voter polls, once Nebraska and Colorado pull out of the Big 12 in the next year or two.

Texas most recently made scheduling news when it announced that it was no longer playing its scheduled two-game series against Minnesota slated for 2015 and 2016 after the two schools failed to reach a contractual agreement.

Minnesota athletic director (and Notre Dame graduate) Joel Maturi had this to say when asked about the breakdown:

“The Texas game is no longer on our schedule due to a contract impasse concerning video rights,” Maturi, who negotiated with the Longhorns “for months,” said Tuesday via e-mail. "... We had an agreement. Unfortunately, with our commitments to the BTN [Big Ten Network], there were issues we could not come to agreement on.”

It’s interesting that Maturi mentioned the Gophers commitment to the Big Ten Network as a detriment, because if we learned anything this offseason, it was that the Big Ten Network was nothing but rainbows and unicorns.* Instead, it’s likely that Dodds and the Longhorns balked at playing a “high-profile” non-conference game on a premium channel that most people in the state of Texas won’t pay to watch.

The falling out of the game likely opened the door for renewed negotiations between Dodds and Jack Swarbrick, who spent plenty of time this offseason giving each other counsel. While nothing is finalized yet, this would give the Irish another marquee non-conference game to go along with the home-and-home that restarts with Miami in 2016 after the 2012 game in Solider Field.

*Hat-tip to KGB for the wonderful descriptor