Notre Dame mailbag

It's been a quiet week in Golden Dome land, as Notre Dame coaches went out recruiting after the season-ending victory at USC. The team returns to practice this weekend to get ready for an unknown bowl opponent and an unknown destination. At least for a couple more days.

Let's deal with what we know:

Jim from Jamestown, Ky., writes: How sure/definite is the chance that Notre Dame will be going to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando? I've already bought tickets to the game for my family based on ESPN's predictions ... have the hotel room, and scheduled to see Mickey while we're there. Or, do I need to put my tickets on Ebay now?

Brian Bennett: Wow, you really gambled, Jim, and I'm not sure you'll like the final card. Here's the deal: You probably need Connecticut to lose and West Virginia to win this weekend (or for West Virginia to lose) so that the Champs Sports takes Notre Dame instead of the Mountaineers. That bowl is leaning toward a 9-3, ranked West Virginia team instead of a 7-5 Irish, knowing they only get one shot in four years at Notre Dame and wanting a better edition of the Domers. I think quietly Notre Dame will politic not to be invited to the Champs game (they're contractually obligated to go) so they can take one of the Pac-10's spots in either the Bridgepoint Education Holiday or Hyundai Sun bowls.

But, hey, Mickey will still be there no matter what.

Stucko from Marquette, Mich., writes: Looking at the bowls with ND's short- and long-term best interests in mind, would it be best for the Irish to stay with the company line: "We want to play the best opponent possible," or look at: "We want to put ourselves in the best position to win?"

Brian Bennett: I don't think the opponent matters all that much. In the end, people forget very quickly who wins or loses minor bowl games. The Irish likely will want the spot with the best exposure, both on TV and for recruiting. That's why I think they'd want to go to the Holiday Bowl and use it to help with California recruiting. That plus the USC win could be quite helpful.

Michael from Atlanta writes: Based on their class to date, what are Notre Dame's greatest unmet recruiting needs? What can ND do to close strong before signing day?

Brian Bennett: The Irish have had a pretty good week, landing athlete Cam McDaniel from Texas and getting dual-threat quarterback Everett Golson to decommit from North Carolina and pledge to them. Brian Kelly wanted a big-time quarterback, and it will be interesting to see how he uses a guy with Golson's athleticism. I still think Notre Dame needs a big-time running back, after losing Justice Hayes to Michigan, and another top defensive lineman or two after having some defections there. Ishaq Williams and Savon Huggins are two big-time players at those positions still looking toward South Bend.

Ed from Indianapolis writes: Any news on a Mormon mission for Manti Te'o? Not sure what the faith's guidelines are on that in terms of timing, etc. but hoping Manti is back in uniform next year (and the one after that if possible).

Brian Bennett: Ed, Te'o has said he will not go on a mission during his time at Notre Dame. His mission instead appears to be tackling everything in sight.

Matt from South Bend writes: As this season plays out, it appears to me that we may have a quarterback controversy here in South Bend at the beginning of the season. Is this going to be the case or is Dayne going to come back and be the starter in his senior year? Also, what is the likelihood that Mike Floyd returns for his senior year and what impact will that have on Notre Dame if he decides to forgo his senior year?

Brian Bennett: Tommy Rees is 3-0 as the starter and has made a strong case for himself, which will be bolstered if he wins the bowl game. Granted, the offense hasn't put too much on his shoulders in those games, but he still makes quick decisions and gets rid of the ball on time. That's a big plus in this offense. I think we're looking at a competition next year, but at this point we're not even sure if Dayne Crist can be back in time for spring ball. As for Floyd, he has given no indication thus far which way he's leaving. My guess is that he will go, but that's just a hunch. Notre Dame doesn't really have a big, tall wideout with his skills who can step in, but those guys don't come around very often.

Jimmy Touchdowns writes: Why is ND not willing to joining the Big East in football. Are they not mediocre at best? I don't think this generation of upcoming football players/fans ever knew ND to be great. ND may not have benefited from joining the Big East 20 years ago ... but now it would make sense to join...wouldn't it?

Brian Bennett: Sigh. How tiresome is this discussion? Notre Dame wants no part of the Big East for football. Rightly or wrongly, the Irish believe they are defined by their independence and their ability to play a national schedule. The last thing they want is a schedule filled with the likes of Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers and Connecticut. You don't have to agree with that thinking, but it's not going to change, so why don't we all just move on with our lives?

Dave from Portland, Ore., writes: Why, for years, has NBC given radio & television coverage to Notre Dame football whether they're winning or not, whether we, the public, want to know anything about them or not? It's not fair to all other teams, especially those that have to play ND, bolstering them up through media hype and the added, consistent source of dollars that are added to ND coffers by a supposedly independent news organization/company with deep pockets. ...

Brian Bennett: Be thankful, dear readers, I spared you the rest of Dave's rant and his conspiracy theories, which included Regis Philbin's nefarious connection. Dave, take a breath. NBC is a private business. It made a business decision that it would be profitable to partner with Notre Dame. At some point, if that partnership is not profitable, it will change. If you don't like it, you don't have to watch. When has college football ever been about fairness?