Nevada, Notre Dame close to deal to play in '09

RENO, Nev. -- Nevada is close to sealing a deal to play a football game at Notre Dame in 2009, school officials said.

"We're just working out a couple of minor issues right now," Rory Hickok, a Nevada associate athletic director, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "We've gone back and forth a lot. I am optimistic that we can wrap this up in fairly short order."

John Heisler, senior associate athletic director at Notre Dame, said there isn't a signed contract yet, but the game is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 5, 2009. The game would be the first between the two schools.

"To have a chance to play against that program is just a great opportunity," Nevada coach Chris Ault said.

Nevada won a share of the Western Athletic Conference title and went 9-3 last year, including a victory over Central Florida in the Hawaii Bowl. The Fighting Irish went 9-3 last year in Charlie Weis' first season as coach.

Hickok said talks with Notre Dame began nearly two years ago when Nevada was one of a handful of schools that rearranged its 2004 schedule so that Notre Dame could open its season against BYU that year, rather than against Michigan.

The changes called for Nevada to open its season at WAC foe Louisiana Tech and it also changed the dates of the San Jose State and San Diego State games that season. Notre Dame is expected to play San Diego State in 2008.

Nevada has stepped up its efforts to play big-name schools since Cary Groth, formerly at Northern Illinois, became athletic director in 2004. The Wolf Pack host Northwestern and play at Arizona State in the upcoming season, play at Nebraska in 2007 and at Florida State the following season.