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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How does Notre Dame’s choice to join ACC affect BYU's future scheduling?

This morning Notre Dame announced its decision to join the ACC in all sports but football. Part of the deal Notre Dame made with the ACC is it would play five ACC teams each season in football.

It seemed that the Brigham Young Cougars had hoped to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with Notre Dame, as both teams are recognized as legitimate football names on the national scene and are both FBS Independents. Games are scheduled between the two teams for 2012 and 2013, with another four games in the future yet to be determined. But now with Notre Dame’s agreement with the ACC, what are the chances of the schools’ relationship taking root?

Notre Dame has standing rivalries with Stanford, USC, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. If the Irish continue to play those five teams annually, as well as five ACC teams, then Notre Dame has 10 games of its schedule already set. That only leaves two games available for other teams.

Brigham Young was probably hoping to schedule Notre Dame even more consistently in the future to help bolster the strength of schedule and make the prospect of creating its own schedule each season a bit easier. But it seems this will be a difficult prospect if the Irish only have two slots available for all the teams in the NCAA who would love the chance to play them. They already have Texas scheduled for 2014 and 2015, Oklahoma for 2013, Arizona State for 2013 and 2014, and Navy in 2015.

In the joint Notre Dame/ACC press conference, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced that the Irish will be official members starting in 2014, and football games with ACC teams will be placed on the schedule that year. That would protect the November 2013 game that BYU has scheduled with the Fighting Irish at South Bend.

When the switch does take place, Notre Dame may have to break some commitments to play other teams in order to keep its agreement with the ACC and its longstanding relationships with Stanford, USC, Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue.

Swarbrick himself knows this will likely happen. On what Notre Dame's future scheduling, he said, "It's hard to get into too much detail until we really work through it. It is important to us to get out to the West Coast annually, and as everyone close to Notre Dame knows, the tradition of playing Navy is important and has deep roots. Those are probably building blocks. Beyond that, we have to work through it over time."

Will the six-game series between BYU and Notre Dame be cut short, or will the Irish stand by the word of Swarbrick? Around the time BYU announced its move to independence, Swarbrick said, “We will certainly do everything we can to create opportunities to play BYU in football." Time will tell, but it’s hard to see Notre Dame breaking their commitments with big name teams like Oklahoma and Texas.

This year, Notre Dame has the regular five opponents already mentions and four future or current ACC teams on the schedule (Pittsburgh, Miami, Boston College, and Wake Forest). BYU, Oklahoma, and Navy are the other three teams. Which one would be the odd one out?

The good news is BYU’s current series with Notre Dame does provide some flexibility. It is six games over a nine year span. Assuming 2014 is the year Notre Dame joins the ACC, that would keep the 2013 game in tact. The list of future opponents above would prevent game three of the six games from being scheduled until 2016. At which point BYU and Notre Dame would have five years to play four games. That sounds manageable, but what about beyond 2020?

It is still too early to tell what the ultimate impact(s) of Notre Dame’s decision will be on its series with BYU, even without taking into account the tangent of BYU joining the Big XII. At the very least, it doesn’t look like the Irish will be taking a trip to Provo any time soon.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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