When the Big East was reconfigured a few years back, the conference was able to persuade their non-football member Notre Dame to commit to playing more Big East teams in football. To that end, the Irish have a six year home-and-home series with Pitt starting this season, they agreed to play UConn and they also set up a six year series with Rutgers.
Pitt is actually one of their most played opponents in the Irish history (5th behind Navy, USC, Purdue and Michigan State), so that wasn't a surprise. The UConn series required the Huskies to essentially go to neutral fields for their home games by making the games at NFL stadiums in the Northeast.
Rutgers is presently expanding their seating capacity to 55,000 at a cost of over $100 million. The expansion would be completed for the 2009 season. The year the Notre Dame series was to begin was in 2010. Notre Dame, however, was insisting that the Rutgers home games take place at the new NFL stadium at the Meadowlands. Rutgers, unlike UConn, wouldn't accept leaving their own facility so the series is now off.
Rutgers entered into discussions about a possible long-term series with Notre Dame, but at the end of the day both schools could not agree about the site of the games," [Athletic Director Bob] Mulcahy said in a statement issued by the school. "We feel Rutgers' home games should be played on-campus at Rutgers Stadium."
Unlike UConn coach Randy Edsall, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano had no interest in surrendering true home field advantage just to play Notre Dame.
It's hard not to notice and draw the stark contrast between Rutgers and UConn with their decisions on playing Notre Dame. Some of that has to do with where the programs are.
UConn is less than a decade removed from being a 1-AA football team and still trying to prove they are a legitimate program in the BCS. Their stadium was only built a few years ago, and not in any position to expand. They are in upstart, crashing the party attitude. It's about getting attention and making people (and more importantly, recruits) believe they are a legitimate choice.
For Rutgers, they may have been akin to Temple for many, many years, but at least they were a 1-A team (technically). Things have changed for the better with Rutgers. Under Schiano the program has finally moved from that "sleeper" mode to legitimate program. They are just further along in their growth. They have been ranked for more than one week. They have scored big upsets that got national attention. They are in the process of expanding their stadium.
The Scarlet Knights are not about to give Notre Dame a chance to come to New Jersey for a game -- and to recruit -- without at least having them play in Rutgers true home field.