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USF to get big payday for 2011 Notre Dame game

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 24, 2008


TAMPA - Since USF joined the Big East in 2005, athletic director Doug Woolard has said that schools in BCS conferences don't travel for football games without getting home games in return. If you're going to make an exception, it's for a chance at national exposure and a landmark victory.

"Everybody in America knows about Notre Dame football," USF coach Jim Leavitt said Wednesday. "You're playing maybe one of the most storied programs in college football. It's a great opportunity for USF. To line up and play at Notre Dame is very exciting."

The Bulls have agreed to play at Notre Dame on Nov. 19, 2011, traveling to South Bend, Ind., for a meeting of one of college football's youngest programs with perhaps its most historic. The Fighting Irish, who have won 11 national titles, will pay USF $850,000; the Big East will pay USF $125,000 from its television revenues.

"There's a platform for our football program and for the university," Woolard said. "To me, it's about an opportunity that I know our players will enjoy. Our players and fans really deserve these kinds of games."

Notre Dame has made a commitment to play three Big East teams each year starting in 2011 and had extended an open invitation to all eight conference programs to play in South Bend. While the Bulls have signed only home-and-home agreements since joining the Big East, they'll make an exception here. While Notre Dame's lucrative TV contract with NBC expires in 2010, there's a good chance this game will give the Bulls a national network TV audience, something they had for the first time last month on CBS in the Sun Bowl.

The $850,000 is easily the most USF has received to play a football game. The Bulls got $650,000 in the fall to play at Auburn. USF will be allotted 5,000 tickets for the Notre Dame game, which will be made available first to Bulls Club members and season-ticket holders.

USF also announced a home-and-home series with Ball State. The Bulls will host the Cardinals on Sept. 10, 2011, and will travel to Muncie, Ind., on Sept. 22, 2012. Along with the Notre Dame game and a trip to play Indiana in 2009, USF will play three games in the Hoosier State in a span of four seasons.

USF has tried to schedule two games each year with non-BCS Division I-A teams, and the Mid-American Conference program will fill a slot more recently occupied by state rival Central Florida.

RODRIGUEZ RIFT DETAILED: Even before the first snap at fall practice, Rich Rodriguez and his agent were pursuing a promised "culture change" at West Virginia and a shake-up at the highest levels of the athletic department, e-mails obtained by the Associated Press show.

But by mid November, Rodriguez's agent, Mike Brown, was threatening to take his client elsewhere, warning WVU he was being mentioned for possible openings at Texas A&M and FSU.

Rodriguez resigned Dec. 18 for the coaching job at Michigan, touching off a bitter public dispute. The disintegration of the relationship is documented in a series of e-mails written over a five-month period. They show Brown fighting for more operational and marketing control over the program and over money Rodriguez helped raise through a booster organization.

In e-mails to WVU president Mike Garrison and his chief of staff, Craig Walker, Brown also complains of Gov. Joe Manchin interfering with the program.

WVU administration officials and Brown declined to discuss the e-mails. Athletic director Ed Pastilong said he was unaware of plans for a culture change or of conflict between his staff and Rodriguez.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Junior defensive back Demario Bobo declared for the NFL draft this month, unbeknownst to officials. He started two games last year.

NEBRASKA: New coach Bo Pelini's contract was made public: five years at a base salary of $1.1-million annually. Former coach Bill Callahan's base salary was $1.75-million.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.