Notebook: NBC decision may irritate Notre Dame fans

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame football’s upcoming 25th season on NBC comes with a few twists, including at least one that may rankle some viewers.

ND’s Nov. 21 Shamrock Series date with Boston College at 7:30 EST on Nov. 21 at Fenway Park in Boston will be on NBC Sports Network and not over-the-air NBC.

That means you’ll need to have a cable or satellite package to view the game on TV. NBCSN is in 85 million homes in the U.S. That compares to the 92 million cable sports giant ESPN can claim.

Nielsen estimates there are 116 million TV households overall in the U.S., so 27 percent of them won’t have access. The problem is more acute in Canada, where there’s a large and avid Notre Dame football fan base and limited alternatives.

Even though the game is in Boston, it’s technically a Notre Dame home game. And the NBC Sports Group does offer a free live stream of all the Irish home games to desktops, tablets and mobile devices to cable/satellite subscribers in the U.S.

Among the other changes for the NBC Sports Group is a predictable one, with analyst Mike Mayock leaving the broadcast team and former Boston College Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie replacing him — a move that started to evolve late last season when Mayock was shifted to the sideline.

Play-by-play voice Dan Hicks and sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen return. Former Miami (Fla.) All-America linebacker Jonathan Vilma joins the coverage team as an analyst for the pregame and halftime shows.

Four-telling?

Sports Illustrated on Tuesday may have provided the most optimistic forecast of Notre Dame’s success this upcoming season, outside of maybe Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s wife, Paqui, and Lou Holtz.

The magazine, which put the Irish on one of their four regional covers, projects ND into the second-ever, college football playoff, as the No. 4 seed.

National champion Ohio State, Auburn and TCU — 1, 2 and 3 respectively — are the other teams projected into the playoff.

Here’s SI’s complete top 25, with ND and its 2015 opponents in bold:

1. Ohio State; 2. Auburn; 3. TCU; 4. Notre Dame; 5. Alabama; 6. Baylor; 7. Michigan State; 8. USC; 9. Florida State; 10. Oregon; 11. Georgia; 12. Clemson; 13. Ole Miss, 14. UCLA; 15. Arizona.

16. Boise State; 17. Arizona State; 18. Stanford; 19. Georgia Tech; 20. Missouri; 21. Oklahoma; 22. Arkansas; 23. LSU; 24. Wisconsin; 25. Mississippi State.

The Irish landed at No. 11 in the preseason coaches poll. The AP writers poll will be released Aug. 23.

Odds and ends

Bovada.LV on Tuesday released its latest odds to win the 2015 college football national championship, and Notre Dame remains 20-1 — just as it was in mid-May, after incumbent QB Everett Golson transferred to Florida State, and also on Jan. 13, just after Ohio State won the 2014 national title.

What’s changed is how many teams have better odds than the Irish. On Jan. 13, it was nine. After the Golson transfer it was six. On Tuesday it was five — Ohio State (11-4. Alabama 7-1, TCU 7-1, Auburn 9-1, USC 16-1).

Florida State’s arc has been intriguing to follow. On Jan. 13, it was 16-1. After Golson transferred to FSU, the odds moved to 12-1. And Tuesday? They were at 25-1.

Game officials pull apart a pile of players after Notre Dame turns the ball over to Boston College during the game at Alumni Stadium at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Saturday, November 10, 2012. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)