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So why, you may wonder, did Notre Dame accept an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl?
After all, there are plenty of reasons NOT to.
• Rewarding your players for a 6-6 season with a trip to Hawaii doesn't exactly send the message that mediocrity is not tolerated in South Bend.
• The Irish will be forced to leave for Hawaii on Dec. 19th, the final day of exams.
• The game is on Christmas Eve, one of the most sacred nights on the Christian calendar. For a Catholic institution that proudly incorporates its faith in all aspects of campus life, asking your fans to watch a football game for three-plus hours on Christmas Eve is something you would likely try to avoid.
• The payout is minimal, and after expenses it may even cost ND in the end.
So why did Notre Dame jump at the chance to go to Honolulu rather than the Texas Bowl, which appeared to be the likely destination before a Hawaii Bowl slot opened up last Saturday?
His name is Manti Te'o.
Te'o is regarded by some recruiting services as the No. 1 linebacker in the country, and he attends the Punahou School in Honolulu. Charlie Weis made a recruiting visit in October to see Te'o play during Notre Dame's off week, and Te'o visited South Bend for the Syracuse game. Weis also reportedly went back to Honolulu last week to visit with Te'o after the USC game.
USC and BYU are among a host of schools pursuing Te'o, who is Mormon and plans to take a two-year mission after his freshman year. Pete Carroll has reportedly said he would hold the scholarship during the mission, something he hasn't promised in the past. Carroll also visited Honolulu this fall to watch Te'o play.
So, for those Irish fans who may find it curious to see ND possibly losing money to play a 7-6 team on its home field on Christmas Eve, look at it as a week-long in-home recruiting visit. The payoff may come in February.