While conferences struggle to change college football schedules in preparation for the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no more slate on the air than that of independent Notre Dame.
Good thing the school has a one-foot-in-one-foot-out deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference that could serve as a way to rebuild the Fighting Irish 2020 football schedule.
According to TMG’s Tony Barnhart, ACC presidents will meet on Wednesday to discuss three planning options. Two out of three schedule layouts “would bring in Notre Dame as a full member from the ACC for only one year and be eligible to play for the conference championship, “according to the report.
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Barnhart also reports that ACC is expected to “end the game in the division and choose the top two teams in the league of 15 teams (including Notre Dame) to play in the conference championship”.
Notre Dame already has six ACC opponents – Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville – Football schedule 2020 as part of the school’s contract with the conference. The contract allows Notre Dame to maintain her football independence while all other sports except hockey compete in the ACC.
The first (and reportedly least likely) scenario that ACC presidents will consider is the current conference schedule (as of September 5) with 12 total games and eight conference games. Notre Dame would omit that scenario as a full member.
The second scenario is an 11-game season with 10 conference games and one non-conference game. It would roll back the start of the season a week. The third scenario is a nine-game season with eight conference games and one non-conference game, which would push the start of the season back to ‘around September 26’.
Notre Dame has already seen three games disappear from the 2020 football schedule. When the Big Ten announced it would only play the 2020 season with conference games, the Notre Dame-Wisconsin game that would have been played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin was canceled.
The Pac-12 made the same move earlier this month, which led to the cancellation of Notre Dame football games against USC and Stanford.
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Notre Dame’s agreement with the ACC, which was established in 2014 and has been extended to at least 2037, is such that the fighting Irish are required to play at least five ACC opponents in football per season.
The benefits to the ACC are simple: it gets the TV ratings and attendance increases associated with Notre Dame away games, and if Notre Dame gave up its football independence it would be mandatory to join the ACC.
Notre Dame benefits are equally simple: it gets a share of ACC revenue, participates in the conference bowl tie-ins and, perhaps most importantly, maintains its football independence. And in 2020, the deal could be a savior to Notre Dame’s football schedule.