Notre Dame-Kansas: The Bowl Matchup That We Must See

Erin McLaughlinSenior Analyst IIMay 29, 2012

When Charlie Weis was the head coach of Notre Dame, he recruited a young man to be the eventual replacement to Jimmy Clausen. That, of course, was Dayne Crist. Little did Weis or Crist know that Clausen would consistently choke with the game on the line, which would result in Weis being fired and Crist now stuck with Brian Kelly.

Although Crist did have some bright moments, it was clear his talents were more of a fit for a Weis pro-style attack than the quick-spread attack that Kelly implemented. Crist also suffered a season-ending injury when the team was 4-5 only to see freshman Tommy Rees come in and end on a four-game winning streak.

That led to an offseason competition between Crist and Rees. While Crist won the competition, he played so poorly in the first half against South Florida that Rees replaced him and was the quarterback the rest of the year. Crist basically wasted an entire year of eligibility.

I felt before the season that Crist should have transferred to Florida to be reunited with Weis, who was the offensive coordinator, and have two years of eligibility.

As it turns out, Crist would have had to sit out and not have played for Weis anyway.

Weis was named the head coach of a struggling program in Kansas that had just two wins the previous year. Crist knew his one year left at Notre Dame would be another on the bench so he quickly jumped at the opportunity to rejoin the coach who originally recruited him. Senior tight end Mike Ragone, who was also recruited by Weis in South Bend, also transferred to Kansas.

Kansas is suddenly a school that now draws the interest of Notre Dame fans everywhere. There are those who want both Weis and Crist to do well. Both gave all they had in South Bend, even though it didn't work out. Then there are those who want to see them fail. Either way, Notre Dame fans are definitely interested in what happens in Lawrence.

Back in South Bend, some of Notre Dame's featured players such as seniors Manti Te'o, Cierre Wood, and Theo Riddick are Weis recruits. It is only fitting that Notre Dame and Kansas should have to play each other in 2012.

The regular season schedule is already set so the only way this could happen would be in a bowl game. Notre Dame fans every year hope for a BCS appearance. Unfortunately, that will be tough this year with national championship contenders USC and Oklahoma on the schedule. Both Michigan schools are also always tough opponents.

Miami will also want revenge from the Sun Bowl in the renewal of the Catholics vs. Convicts rivalry. Stanford will also be tough even with the graduation of Andrew Luck. The showdown of independents with BYU won't be easy either.

Notre Dame also appears to be moving away from Rees and his legal troubles and toward redshirt freshman Everett Golson. A move like that will be good in the long run but will go through immediate growing pains. Therefore, a trip to the BCS is unlikely. A smaller bowl is once again likely.

Kansas will have to win at least six games to qualify for a bowl game. After a 2-10 season, that will be a tall order, but it is possible. South Dakota State, Rice and Northern Illinois are all winnable. TCU is in its first year in the Big 12 and it is uncertain how good it will be coming from the Mountain West. That is also winnable. West Virginia is also coming from a weaker conference in the Big East. That might be winnable.

Iowa State and Texas Tech both finished with losing records, so those are also winnable. It is uncertain how good Baylor will be without Robert Griffin III.  Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are all tough opponents and probably too much for the Jayhawks. Therefore, a trip to the BCS is highly unlikely.

So for this match up to take place, it would have to be in a non-BCS bowl. If Notre Dame has a chance at the BCS, it has to take it. But if not, then the Fighting Irish have to find a way to play Kansas in a bowl game. It is a matchup we have to somehow see.