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Notre Dame's Leprechaun Still Guards A Pot of Gold

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Charlie Weis and his Irish gang are hosting Purdue this week. Notre Dame is a slim (-1) favorite over the Boilermakers at home. But there is one sure bet. The Fighting Irish will once again find a pot of gold waiting in the endzone. That's because Notre Dame collects almost $30 million a multimedia and marketing revenue.

Most estimates put Texas next in multimedia revenue at about $20 million a year. Over the past five years, Notre Dame has had just 2 winning seasons, and has posted a 33-28 mark. Texas is 54-10 over the same time period.

Obviously on-the-field performance still hasn't crippled the money-making lucky charms of the Irish. NBC pays Notre Dame $10 million a year for their home games. The Irish Radio Network can be heard in all of the Top 25 Markets and in 130 overall. It also rings up $2.6 million a year.

And unlike just about every other major college program (Texas included) that has turned over all its multimedia rights to the monolith IMG College, the Irish run everything on their own.

Everything is run through Team Notre Dame, including the revenue from 8 national sponsors: Adidas, Coca Cola, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Xerox, Comcast, Chase and Sirius Satellite Radio. And Team Notre Dame negotiates buy-ins on the NBC and radio broadcasts. That move generates revenue on both ends. By supplying its broadcast partners with willing advertising clients, NBC and ISP (the Notre Dame radio outlet) have about half of their inventory sold before they ever hit the streets to sell. Supply and demand makes sure that the rest of the inventory is at a prime rate.

Still you have to believe that if the wins don't increase, and soon, that the investment/return ratio will finally go against the Irish. NBC saw its worst ratings during it's 19-year association with Notre Dame last season, and more importantly, the number of men 18-34 watching Irish football games has been cut in half over the past five years.

Notre Dame recognized its national brand was most valuable as an independent. They have worked hard to maintain that independence and control. Having NBC as their personal network increases their exposure, even during off years. NBC is obviously invested in keeping the Notre Dame brand in the spotlight. But there is a law of diminishing returns at work. That means an awful lot of the Notre Dame "Subway Alumni" cheering on Charlie Weis and the Irish this year can be found in advertising and marketing boardrooms all across the nation.