SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's decision to schedule a game each season at neutral sites starting in 2009 is an attempt to return the school to its independent roots.
Athletic director Kevin White said Tuesday the goal is to travel to different parts of the country and ensure that the only school with a national television contract remains a nationwide school. He
said it would help recruiting and give more Fighting Irish fans a
chance to see the team.
Division I football will go to a 12-game schedule for all
schools beginning this season.
"I think over time we've really begun to behave like a wannabe conference member," White said. "I think it was real important for us to go back to our roots and behave more like an independent -- go back to the coach Rockne barnstorming era if you will."
The game is a sign that Notre Dame is moving further away from
possibly affiliating with a conference, White said.
He said the games aren't truly neutral-site games, but home
contests played away from South Bend. They will not be against what
White described as "heavyweights."
"We have enough heavyweights on the schedule," he said. "We need to have a schedule that's conducive to success."
He said the university is negotiating to play in Jacksonville and Orlando, Fla., New Orleans and Dallas. The school is looking at
existing bowl-game organizations to help stage the contests.
"It's really not a bad idea for Notre Dame to have
relationships with lots of different entities," White said.
Some Notre Dame fans contend the team's upcoming schedules are not as tough as previous ones. White said he is not trying to put together the nation's most difficult schedule.
"We need to schedule in a way it puts us in a position to win national championships," he said. "We could have a great football team and schedule ourselves out of a championship. You can schedule yourself in, you can schedule yourself out. The last time I checked, the most important thing here is to try to win national championships."