Last Night's Winner: Notre Dame, Bending Television To Their Will

In sports, everyone is a winner-some people just win better than others. Like the Fighting Irish, who gain a competitive advantage by convincing NBC to change the way they do commercial breaks, which will facilitate their new up-tempo offense.

Look at you. You always thought advertisers were the most powerful force in all of TV, didn't you? But even they're no match for (Catholic) God and his chosen football team, which is moving to new coach Brian Kelly's favored no-huddle offense.

But those big ol' commercial breaks can really interrupt the tempo when the Irish are marching down the field. So Kelly and AD Jack Swarbrick met with execs, and came up with a solution: five shorter breaks per quarter, instead of the usual four longer ones. Everybody happy!

Notre Dame gets their uninterrupted possessions, NBC gets just as much ad time, and can make a little more money (the first ad in a block is worth more). And the country gets to bitch that the Fighting Irish are getting special treatment from their own personal network.

We dropped NBC Sports PR a line, which was probably pointless considering it was 11 at night. They haven't gotten back to us yet, but we can pretty much imagine what they'd say: They're committed to providing the best viewing experience for the audience, and suiting their broadcasts to fit the constraints of the game is a great way to do that, et cetera, et cetera. And you know what? They're totally right.

This really is the best way to do it. Notre Dame's not going to change their offense for advertisers' sakes. A four-per-quarter commercial schedule would be awkward with a hurry-up offense. But it doesn't matter if, from both business and view standpoints, this is just a smart decision. NBC acquiesced to the wishes of Notre Dame. For those of us who remember when the Irish were good, and therefore hated, it's just another example of how they're treated like the sacred cow of college football. Even if it really isn't.

What's really a win-win situation for everyone comes off as a no-win situation for Notre Dame and NBC in the court of non-South Bend public opinion.