Over the last several days Irish Breakdown has published a series that focused on the history of Notre Dame and the Big Ten, and how the rejection by that conference led to Notre Dame's independence, which led to Notre Dame becoming the premier football program in the country.
Notre Dame has twice publicly rebuffed the Big Ten Conference, but there is another conference out there that is hoping to entice Notre Dame to join its league. That would be the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Notre Dame partnered with the ACC for all sports but football and hockey back in 2013, and this past year the ACC - led by former commission John Swofford - stepped when the Covid-19 pandemic threw the season out of whack, bringing the Irish in for a "one-time only" partnership. Notre Dame ran the table in the regular season and played Clemson for the league championship.
First-year ACC commissioner Jim Phillips is hoping to make permanent what Swofford was able to do for just one season, make Notre Dame a full member of the league.
During the recent ACC media day, Phillips called the one-year partnership between Notre Dame and his league a "beautiful and beneficial relationship."
He went on to point out that the ACC isn't going to be coy or sky about expressing its interest in Notre Dame becoming a full-time member.
"They know the ACC's interest," Phillips said of Notre Dame. "It's been less than bashful since I've been here, but I also respect where they're at ... Who knows where the future's going to go?"
Notre Dame is back to playing a fully independent schedule in 2021, but the Irish will play five ACC opponents: Florida State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia Tech.
In a normal situation I would take Phillips' comments as just typical comments by a league that obviously wants Notre Dame to join, but as has been the case for decades the Irish will continue to politely say no.
With the announcement that Texas and Oklahoma are planning to leave the Big 12 to join the SEC the push for super conferences will once again gain steam. That means calls for Notre Dame to join a conference will be louder than normal.
The question about whether or not Notre Dame can remain independent amidst massive changes in college football will be prominent this offseason, and you can bet the ACC will have its best recruiting pitches ready.
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