A Look At Notre Dame's Place In Pat Forde's Brave New World Of College Football

Bryan Driskell

COVID-19 has certainly shaken up college sports, forcing the cancelation of the NCAA basketball tournament, spring sports, spring football and it has dramatically altered the offseason for college football.

With all the turmoil, why not blow everything up and start over? That’s the proposal by Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde, who created a brand-new, 120-team, 10-league, remade college landscape.

To begin, Forde has 10 current FBS teams dropping to FCS. Those programs would be UTEP, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, South Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Bowling Green, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Coastal Carolina, Troy and Liberty. He promoted the most dominant FCS program, North Dakota State, to the FBS level.

Part of the premise is to create a group of league’s that makes more sense from a geographical standpoint, thus reducing “travel demands and costs.” Forde also looks to create a system that “spreads the wealth” around to all programs. For football, programs would play every team in their league plus one non conference game, and teams cannot play FCS opponents.

For Notre Dame, this would mean joining a conference. Forde has Notre Dame in the new Mid-American Conference. This league would look like this:

Notre Dame
West Virginia
Western Kentucky
Middle Tennessee
Northern Illinois

Notre Dame would also maintain its rivalry with USC, which means in Forde’s world the Irish would no longer play Navy and would stop playing Stanford. Stanford I can live with, but dropping Navy and replacing it with a program like Northern Illinois, Marshall or Middle Tennessee wouldn’t be overly enticing to anyone affiliated with Notre Dame.

So Fighting Irish fans, how would you feel about a Notre Dame schedule that looked like this?

At Northern Illinois
At Middle Tennessee
At Louisville
Western Kentucky
At Kentucky
At Northwestern
At West Virginia

That’s not an overly sexy schedule. 

When you look at the rest of his league breakdowns, the proposal might spread out the wealth, but in my view it would also make for a lot of football that would simply not be fun to watch. Let’s look at the rest of his conferences, with each team’s non-conference opponent in parenthesis.


Stanford (Northwestern)
USC (Notre Dame)
Washington (Utah)
California (BYU)
UCLA (Arizona)
Oregon (Boise State)
Washington State (Wyoming)
San Diego State (New Mexico)
Oregon State (Arizona State)
Hawaii (Army)
Fresno State (Utah State)
Nevada (UNLV)


Arizona State (Oregon State)
BYU (California)
Utah (Washington)
Air Force (Navy)
Colorado (Kansas)
Arizona (UCLA)
Boise State (Oregon)
Colorado State (North Dakota State)
New Mexico (San Diego State)
Utah State (Fresno State)
Wyoming (Washington State)
UNLV (Nevada)

In Forde’s new world of college football, the winner of each conference would make the College Football Playoff. That means one team from the league above would make the playoff. That would be, well, interesting. Let’s look at the rest of the conferences.


Wisconsin (Michigan State)
Minnesota (Michigan)
Iowa (Purdue)
Iowa State (Oklahoma State)
Nebraska (Oklahoma)
Missouri (Illinois)
Kansas State (TCU)
North Dakota State (Colorado State)
Kansas (Colorado)
Western Michigan (Toledo)
Central Michigan (Northern Illinois)
Eastern Michigan (Ball State)


Michigan (Minnesota)
Ohio State (Penn State)
Michigan State (Wisconsin)
Indiana (Kentucky)
Purdue (Iowa)
Cincinnati (Louisville)
Miami, Ohio (Western Kentucky)
Ohio (Marshall)
Toledo (Western Michigan)
Akron (Middle Tennessee)
Kent State (Buffalo)
Ball State (Eastern Michigan)


Texas (Arkansas)
Texas A&M (Mississippi State)
Oklahoma (Nebraska)
TCU (Kansas State)
Oklahoma State (Iowa State)
Baylor (Louisiana Tech)
Texas Tech (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Houston (East Carolina)
SMU (Temple)
Rice (Tulane)
Tulsa (Arkansas State)
North Texas (Southern Miss)


North Carolina (Georgia Tech)
Duke (Rutgers)
Virginia (Maryland)
Wake Forest (Boston College)
Clemson (Florida State)
NC State (Syracuse)
Virginia Tech (Miami, Fla.)
South Carolina (South Florida)
Appalachian State (Georgia Southern)
East Carolina (Houston)
Old Dominion (FIU)
Charlotte (UAB)


Florida (LSU)
Georgia (Auburn)
Florida State (Clemson)
Miami, Fla. (Virginia Tech)
Georgia Tech (North Carolina)
UCF (Memphis)
South Florida (South Carolina)
Georgia Southern (Appalachian State)
UAB (Charlotte)
Florida International (Old Dominion)
Georgia State (UConn)
Florida Atlantic (UMass)


LSU (Florida)
Auburn (Georgia)
Alabama (Tennessee)
Mississippi State (Texas A&M)
Arkansas (Texas)
Mississippi (Vanderbilt)
Tulane (Rice)
Memphis (UCF)
Arkansas State (Tulsa)
Louisiana Tech (Baylor)
Southern Miss (North Texas)
Louisiana-Lafayette (Texas Tech)


Penn State (Ohio State)
Navy (Air Force)
Syracuse (NC State)
Boston College (Wake Forest)
Maryland (Virginia)
Pittsburgh (West Virginia)
Army (Hawaii)
Temple (SMU)
Rutgers (Duke)
Buffalo (Kent State)
UConn (Georgia State)
UMass (FAU)

Let’s take a look at what the College Football Playoff would look like based on the best team in each conference based on 2019 results. The top four teams would get a bye and seeds 5-8 would host first round games. Here’s what the seeding would look like based on the CFP committee rankings at the end of the season.

First Round Bye:

#1 LSU
#2 Ohio State
#3 Clemson
#4 Oklahoma

First Round Games:

#12 Notre Dame at #5 Georgia
#11 Utah at #6 Oregon
#10 Penn State at #7 Baylor
#9 Florida at #8 Wisconsin

That is how the college football world would look according to Pat Forde. So, Notre Dame fans, let me know in the comments section below what you think of this from both a Notre Dame and overall college football standpoint.

Check in tomorrow to see my own proposal for remaking college sports (especially football) and the College Football Playoff.

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Comments (25)
No. 1-16

I don't know the last time I read an article that I thought was a worse idea than this. From a ND fan how can it even be a discussion. That schedule is garbage.

As a college football fan, it's equally garbage. His conferences have a region aspect to them but they also intertwine the haves and the have-nots. Nobody wants to see the haves and have-nots play on a regular basis, especially not the same players.

All conferences have their bottom feeders. Let's take the Big 10, I think their bottom feeder is Illinois. In the last 5 years Illinois has won 10 Big Ten games. Pretty pathetic. However one of those wins was against a very good Wisconsin last year however. That's the beauty of college football as it is set up today. You have to show up each week.

You don't have to show up when you are OSU and your playing Akron, Kent State and Ball State every year. ND and Middle Tennessee?

Terrible idea. Sorry Pat, try again.


No thanks.


Deep south Conference with no Mississippi State, Ole Miss or LSU?? It doesn't get any deeper south than those states... I didn't like any of his changes.. None of em.



I dont think I've come across one person who thinks this is a good idea except maybe Pat Forde himself. Absolutely horrible.


This is a terrible idea, don't know what Pat was thinking putting Northern Illinois in a conference with Tennessee and us. That being said, I would like to see us start playing Tennessee more regularly, and I'd have to say that we'd have a pretty easy route to the playoff........


Personally I would love that because Middle Tennessee is in my home town and I now live 45 minutes from Knoxville, so I’d get to make a short drive every here to see the Irish..... but Outside of that selfish reasoning it’s a terrible idea.


Must be a slow day in the office for Pat Forde. I don't like this idea at all and I don't know many people that would


We need sports to just start up again. What if’s drive me nuts.


Big chunks. I'm blowing big chunks on this.


This must be a joke. If not, then it’s click bait. Well, for the upteenth time, to heck with conferences anyway. All college football should be independent.


This is honestly one of the stupidest things I've ever read. Whatever Pat Forde is smoking, I want some. How is this guy a credible commentator involved with Sports Illustrated? Look at his idea for the Great Mideast and Great Midwest conferences; each conference has five Big Ten teams. Why not just keep those ten teams in the same conference? How can so many conferences with a severe mix of blue bloods and low level programs possibly work? What a ridiculous idea this is!?!


Boring and would be the death of the sport


Would not hate seeing Tennessee more often, but everything else is stupid and bad.


I think we need a Psychiatric Intervention at the Forde House...he may be suffering from Covid Isolation Syndrome.


College football is the only sport I follow.

If this became reality, I think I'd give up college football. Ugh.