ELKHART — The landscape of college sports has shifted with a smattering of conference realignments, and Notre Dame is in the thick of it.
Gone are the days of the old Big East, the familiar basketball rivalries with St. John’s, Marquette and DePaul. The Irish basketball team will play an Atlantic Coast Conference schedule for the first time this year, going toe-to-toe with big names like North Carolina, Duke as well as long-time Big East stronghold Syracuse.
But Clark Kellogg thinks Notre Dame will be just fine.
Kellogg was in town as a keynote speaker at the Christian Business Men’s Connection annual Elkhart Community Leaders Prayer Breakfast Friday morning, July 19.
He spoke to the large crowd assembled in the fieldhouse at Memorial High School about faith and basketball, and how a combination of his knee injuries, the arrival of a team minister and goading from his wife helped establish his relationship with God.
Kellogg, a lead college analyst for CBS and former Indiana Pacers star, couldn’t offer in-depth analysis or specifics of how the Notre Dame will fare in the ACC, but he knows enough about head coach Mike Brey to have faith in the Irish.
“I know how much I appreciate and admire and respect Coach Brey,” Kellogg said. “Mike does a terrific job of maximizing the talent he has. I’m confident they’re going to do well. Their backcourt is still around — Jerian (Grant) and (Eric) Atkins — and that’s always a good place to start. Those two are high-quality players and outstanding leaders.”
And while names like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, UNC’s Roy Williams and Miami’s Jim Larranaga loom in the future, Kellogg said the challenge for Notre Dame will be unfamiliar, but not overwhelmingly so.
“It won’t be a lot different than what you’ve seen from the Big East in years past,” he said.
Kellogg doesn’t think the major conference realignments this past year are any sign that “the sky is falling.” After all, he said, this isn’t the first time this has happened.
“On the one hand, it’s inevitable and sometimes disheartening, but sometimes we get freeze-framed in the present and think this is the only time there’s been conference realignments,” he said. “It’s gone on before. Part of me wishes it would stay the same, but the realist in me says these changes are inevitable in the landscape of big-time Division I athletics, particularly football and basketball.”
The change isn’t always a pleasant experience, though, and Kellogg notes some potential drawbacks to the shifting landscape of college sports.
“It does make you start thinking even more about the separation between the big-time schools and the smaller schools,” he said. “It may even be time to start rethinking how we govern those sports.”