Notre Dame, The Big Ten, And The Future Schedule Battle

One of the most overlooked, yet the most realistic reason that Notre Dame would have ever considered full conference affiliation in football with any conference, is the future scheduling conflict that will come with larger major conferences. It wasn't money, or TV rights, or recruiting, or any reason that a typical school looks at in conference realignment; it was how Notre Dame can schedule a viable, competitive, and interesting football schedule in the future. 

This should have been painfully obvious when Notre dame agreed to a 5 game a year football contract with the ACC in its deal to move all other sports over to the ACC. Jack Swarbrick certainly saw the writing on the wall as we have seen 10 team conferences turn into 12, and now 14, and perhaps even 16 in the not so distant future. 

With bigger conferences, comes the desire to play more games against each other. Let's face it, a 12 or 14 team conference only playing 8 games is lunacy. That leaves 4 out of conference games, and 3 or 5 teams that you don't play within that conference. 

I have spoke about this many times, and it seems that my worries or just plain questions have fallen on deaf ears. Most replies have been of an arrogant nature- "WHO DOESN'T WANT TO LAY NOTRE DAME?!" 

Well, when teams are staring at 3 or maybe even just 2 games out of conference, AND are sitting on a fat stack of cash from their respective TV deals and bowl rights… there might be more than you may care to admit- especially when some of the upper elite teams that Notre Dame would need to fatten it's bid for one of the upcoming 4 playoff spots decide that they would rather play a team that might be a bit easier to beat. (Notre Dame's rise back to the elite could come with that kind of unexpected backlash.)

Why does all of this matter right now? This:

So the Big Ten, which basically holds 2-3 schedule spots for the Irish each year, are looking to substitute at least one out of conference game for a conference game, and possibly even two out of conference games for two more conference games.That narrows future scheduling possibilities for the Irish considerably- even for long standing series such as Purdue and Michigan State. 

If you think this is restricted to the Big Ten, than you are pretty naive and haven't been paying attention to conference realignment these past few years. They (conferences) wait for a domino to fall and then they jump in to knock the rest down. Rinse and repeat. 

Notre Dame is now looking at 5 ACC games, Navy, and USC as the only guarantees for the future. That leaves 5 games to schedule with teams in conferences eating up 9 and even 10 spots. That's a difficult job for Mr. Swarbrick. 

Now, I'm not suggesting that Notre Dame will be begging teams from the MAC, WAC, and Big East for games to fill its schedule, but I will say with dire certainty that the Notre Dame football schedule of the future will be more diverse, but it could also be a little more watered down. All I'm really saying is that this is a situation that we need to monitor very, very closely and hope Jack nails it down. It's a brave new world, and it's only getting weirder. 

About The Subway Domer

Warlord and Emperor of the Subway Alumni... also, I do this "dad" thing pretty damn well.