ACC Expansion Rumor: Notre Dame Plotting ACC Move With Scheduling?

Could Schedule Constraints Just Move Notre Dame Right Into the ACC Without a Fuss?

As we’ve discussed countless times before, the ACC wants Notre Dame to join up (bringing either Rutgers or Connecticut with them). But, what hasn’t been talked of as much is Notre Dame’s own desire to join the league, independent of the standing invite. Sure, the Irish have repeatedly stated they “value their independence in football,” but realistically, how many years do we have until they’re forced to join a conference? Once Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the ACC, the league will move to a nine-game league schedule. All five of the other “BCS conferences” have either discussed making similar moves, or have already done so. Given that, with just three slots available for the types of schools ND prefers scheduling, how are they supposed to fill out that schedule? And even more importantly (for them), how can they maintain their respective AQ status as an independent (and lucrative TV deal) when half their slate consists of lower-rung FBS squads by 2015? Here’s where a full-time membership in a conference comes in, and believe it or not, the Irish may already be well on their way.

Take a look at Notre Dame’s schedules from 2008 to 2012, and how many ACC teams have been included:

2012: Four (Miami, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Wake Forest)

2011: Four (Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College)

2010: Two (Boston College, Pittsburgh)

2009: Two (Boston College, Piittsburgh)

2008: Four (North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse)

As for future schedules, the Fighting Irish have Pitt locked in on a yearly basis, with typical smatterings of Miami, BC, Syracuse and Wake Forest. With one-third of their schedule already ACC-centric, why not just add four more games? They’re virtually an associate member already. Plus, with Pitt and BC in the conference already, that’s two games they won’t have to worry about protecting. With their three remaining games, give them to USC, Navy and rotate the last game out. Yes, the Irish would be hard-pressed to give up yearly tilts with Stanford, Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue, but they could rotate that last date with the Spartans and Wolverines easily. Think that schedule’s too difficult? Based on preseason rankings, the Irish face off with four top-10 squads, along with another top-25 team in Stanford and fringe squad BYU as it stands in 2012. So is that really all that much different from a nine-game ACC schedule that also tacked on USC and MSU/UM? Probably not.

Of course, this piece isn’t based much in any rumors right now, rather just an interesting take on scheduling, and how it could inherently relate to conference expansion. Don’t agree? Gripe ’till your heart’s content below.

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7 thoughts on “ACC Expansion Rumor: Notre Dame Plotting ACC Move With Scheduling?

  1. With Navy – Notre Dame’s longest running continual yearly rival entering the Big East, as is another schedule multiple foe Temple, plus both Air Force and BYU as regular Irish opponents and being pursued for Big East membership (remember Irish AD Jack Swarbrick is the head of the Big East expansion committee). It’s hard to say just the ACC has scheduling bonuses or advantages for Notre Dame. You can look down the list of Big Ten schools on their schedules especially from 2017 and on and they are loaded… wishful thinking, but not happening anytime soon, if ever!.

    • Wouldn’t go as far to say only the ACC has advantages. Just decided to look at it from the ACC angle here for the purposes of getting a conversation going. If conferences keep growing to 16, I just don’t see how the Irish can exist outside of the system as they do now. While the Big Ten could be a possibility down the road, and makes sense from a geographic standpoint, there’s no way they’d ever join a bloated, jigsaw-puzzle Big East for football.

      As for the ACC, its big advantage is that it’s filled with similarly-minded institutions. Several universities, both private and public, of high academic stature and some level of dual-sport prowess. Joining up with fellow Catholic school BC, and longtime football rival Miami are both selling points. The ability to remain the biggest game in town would be also. No chance they agree to jump to the Big Ten and play third or fourth on the ladder (an underrated point most never address).

  2. What has Notre Dame’s independent status gotten them lately?

    They’ve got their deal with NBC, but that’s about it.

    No one disputes that Notre Dame is the last best hope of making football relevant in the NY City market, despite their irrelevance in college football generally over the last decade or so, and the ACC is best positioned – with Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Boston College – to welcome the Irish into a conference where there’s a natural set of geographic rivals to stir the juices of the Northeast TV market. Add in either UConn or Rutgers to even out the ACC, and they fit the ACC like a hand in a glove. UConn from a BB perspective, and a wash really between UConn and Rutgers on the FB side.

    Best case, the ACC leverages ND entry into the ACC with NBC/Comcast in addition to ESPN deal, making them at least somewhat competitive with the SEC’s CBS/ESPN deal.

    Makes sense on a whole lot of levels.

    • Good point on the NBC/Comcast potential — hadn’t really considered up to this point, since ESPN’s a full partner with the ACC. And you’ll get no argument from me on the Irish’s (ir)relevance of late — not at all a fan of their preferential treatment these past 20 years when the on-field product’s lacked the quality it’s had in the past.

      The point of this post was more focused on scheduling as a driving factor, however, not cash. Notre Dame’s already in a pretty lucrative financial situation — something that only changes if scheduling availability begins to vanish. In my opinion, that’s what gets them to finally give up independence. No way a non-affiliated team gets into the BCS at 10-2 if they play the WAC six times per year (see BYU’s current flirtation with the Big 12 as proof).

    • the ACC makes the most sense…..the already established rivalries, potential new rivalries (I’ve talked to several other Wake Forest fans and Notre Dame fans locally who want both teams to remain on each others schedule), academics, the Northeast tv market, and recruiting in the South, everything just makes more sense for ND to join the ACC……the ACC fits with all of ND’s other sports, ND has a consistently good basketball team and the ACC would be okay with ND keeping their NBC deal for home games…ND would continue to bring in good ratings on NBC and other ACC schools would benefit from the exposure….if ND does indeed join the ACC, I hope UConn comes with them and not Rutgers…..nothing personally against Rutgers, but the ACC will already have the NY tv market with Syracuse, and UConn brings more basketball firepower….can you imagine a conference with UNC, Duke, Syracuse, Pitt, ND and UConn in basketball?….when you add everything all up, it just makes more sense for ND to join the ACC….

      • Hey, I’d be all over that idea, personally. Would love to have Notre Dame in the loop, obviously, and UConn’s a great add on the basketball front.

        Unfortunately, however, it seems that basketball provides only 20 percent of the ACC TV deal per Clemson’s AD the other day (insane, if true, by the way). That figure would also kill any argument for a basketball-focused school, and drive the bus toward football… which is where Rutgers gets the slight leg-up. Not that they’ve really accomplished anything, nor would I want to reward Rutgers for their inflated sense of self-worth as a program, but according to data, they may have more of the New York market than anyone else, including Syracuse, and Notre Dame. It was broken down a bit further here: No, not a thrilling proposition, but it may be the league’s best bet to stay together.

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