The University of Notre Dame is officially ACC-bound (per SI.com) for non-football sports (where applicable) come July 1 of this year. And while the early entry means both sides are passing on the first year of the “five ACC opponents per season” agreement, there’s still plenty left to figure out in terms of Notre Dame’s future. Starting in 2014, they’ll be starting the five-teams-per-year rotation, and as of right now, it seems the Irish and the ACC’s schools all have some reshuffling to do both in the short- and long-term.
Inspired by some initial questions over at Hokie Mark’s ACCFootabllRx, we wanted to take a look at just what needs to change in order for this ACC scheduling rotation to get rolling for 2014. First a look at Notre Dame’s 2014 schedule layout (*note, all schedules based on information from FBSchedules.com):
Current Open Dates: One
Locked Games: Seven (Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse, Stanford, at Navy, Pittsburgh, at USC)
The Rest (Flexible): Four (Rice, at Temple, at Arizona State, Northwestern)
With two ACC teams already on the docket (SU & Pitt), they’ll need to drop two of the four games in the flexible pile. Rice and Temple can be assumed as two of those, and I’d think Arizona State’s would be another possibility, since the Irish already head west once in 2014 when they head to Los Angeles to face USC.
But in trying to fill the three open games, which ACC teams will they have to choose from. A look at each school’s non-conference schedule as currently comprised:
Boston College: at UMass, USC, Army, Rhode Island
Clemson: at Georgia, Coastal Carolina, South Carolina
Duke: at Troy, Kansas, Elon, Tulane
Florida State: Oklahoma State, The Citadel, Florida
Georgia Tech: at Georgia, at Tulane, Wofford
Louisville: Kentucky, at Florida International, at Marshall
Miami: Florida A&M, at Nebraska
NC State: at Central Michigan, at USF, Presbyterian
North Carolina: at East Carolina
Virginia: UCLA, Richmond, at BYU, Kent State
Virginia Tech: William & Mary, East Carolina, at Ohio State, Western Michigan
Wake Forest: at UL-Monroe, Northern Illinois, Army, at Vanderbilt
As it stands, just seven schools have any openings right now and of those, two are likely to be off the table immediately — Florida State and Clemson already have two power-conference games scheduled. That leaves us with Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, NC State and North Carolina. Tech always schedules Georgia, so that doesn’t eliminate them from adding the Irish, but Miami’s game against Nebraska might. With that in mind, we can go with UNC, NC State and Georgia Tech, provided the latter two are road games for ND. Both State and Tech are already on the road twice in non-conference play, and will not want to get knocked down to just five home dates on the season.
So with that, Notre Dame’s 2014 ACC Schedule: Syracuse (neutral site), Pittsburgh, North Carolina, at NC State, at Georgia Tech
That leaves nine teams to choose from for 2015. Notre Dame’s slate currently looks like this:
Current Open Dates: Two
Locked Games: Seven (Texas, at Purdue, Navy, USC, Wake Forest, at Stanford, at Boston College)
The Rest (Flexible): Three (UMass, Syracuse, at Pittsburgh)
Since Wake and Boston College are both already scheduled, they get lock status, and Syracuse and Pitt automatically get dropped since both are set to play Notre Dame in 2014 anyway. With those moves (and the current open date), we get the five openings they’ll need, without cutting any non-ACC matchups. Of the seven teams (originally nine, but subtracting BC and Wake) teams we’re looking at for 2015, their respective schedules lay out as follows:
Clemson: at South Carolina, Wofford
Duke: Northwestern, Army, N.C. Central, Tulane
Florida State: Texas State, Chattanooga, at Florida
Louisville: at Kentucky
Miami: at Toledo, Nebraska, at Florida Atlantic
Virginia: at UCLA, William & Mary, Boise State
Virginia Tech: Furman, at East Carolina, Ohio State
Off the top, you can add a Louisville road game to the list, and a home game versus Clemson, too. Duke and Miami can be removed (Blue Devils have a full schedule, while Miami plays Notre Dame next year anyway), meaning you’re choosing between Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Keeping in mind UVA’s heavy slate already, coupled with VaTech’s full schedule in 2016, the best option would appear to be a home date versus the Hokies.
With that decided, Notre Dame’s 2015 ACC Schedule looks like this: at Boston College, Wake Forest, at Louisville, Clemson, Virginia Tech
To wrap up the rotation, we look at 2016. Notre Dame’s currently committed to the following matchups:
Current Open Dates: Two
Locked Games: Seven (at Texas, Stanford, at Michigan State, Miami, Navy, at USC, Purdue)
The Rest (Flexible): Three (Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse)
The Miami game stays and when adding the two open dates, they get to three ACC games off the bat. The other two, however, are a bit trickier. BC, Pitt and SU all have secured dates with Notre Dame already, and in the devised setup, each cycle has one extra spot. Since the Syracuse game is already set to be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey (while the other two are still up in the air), I’m tempted to hand the Orange this spot. The other games for Notre Dame in this cycle would be a road game verus FSU, road game against Virginia and home game against Duke.
Notre Dame’s 2016 ACC Schedule: Syracuse (neutral site), Miami, at Florida State, at Virginia, Duke
Obviously, there’s still plenty of work left for Notre Dame to do. Regardless of how ambitious they’d like to consider themselves from a scheduling standpoint, no one wants to go up against a 12-team gauntlet of major conference opponents. There needs to be at least one break in there (hi, Duke!). But at least for now, this is a quick look at how a schedule could lay out for them over the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, without really making many waves.
Have a better way to put this all together, though? Feel free to share below.