A JERSEY GUY: ND as a full ACC member? Don't bet on it. ND vs. Navy in Sept? Book It.

Mark Blaudschun

The college football headline which drew the most attention this week was the possibility of Notre Dame playing 10 games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams and being eligible for the ACC championship game for the 2020 season only.

Not going to happen.

Here's why.

Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in most other varsity sports, but remains an independent in football--with a commitment to play an average of 5 ACC teams each season. 

This season, the Irish were scheduled to play 6 ACC teams, as well as long-time rival Navy; Stanford and USC from the Pac-12, plus  Wisconsin from the Big Ten,  Arkansas from the SEC and Western Michigan from the MAC.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed all of that, with many conferences opting for conference games only.

That immediately put the Irish in a scheduling bind with openings created by dropping Wisconsin, USC and Stanford.

The ACC, which has lobbied for years to get the Irish as a football member to complete the circuit, immediately said it would cover ND's back with additional games.

According to several sources, the ACC carried that to the ultimate level, with a proposal which had ND playing 10 ACC games and being eligible for the conference championship as well.

That idea must  be approved by the ACC presidents who are scheduled to meet this week  (Wednesday?) to discuss the various football options.

Don't count on that happening for a variety of reasons.

There is already an anti-ND bias among the ACC coaches who were not happy when the Irish were included in the ACC bowl rotation (minus FBS bowl game) when the deal was signed for the Irish to play 5 ACC opponents each season.

Making them a full member eligible for an Orange Bowl bid (awarded to the ACC champion) is a different matter, which would get approved only if Notre Dame agreed to share some of its additional money generated by its contract with NBC.

That is not likely to happen, unless ND feels that a  one-year sharing of some NBC revenue is a fair price for filling their schedule..

And then there is the competitive aspect. If ND is part of the ACC, which division do you place the Irish?  Certainly not in the Atlantic with Clemson.  And putting ND in the Coastal will not be welcomed by Coastal Division favorites such as Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

One conference of 15 teams? Too unwieldy, with the possibility of a rematch between Clemson and ND. But that could be a compromise this season.

There could be another, u compromise, which would be ND playing 8 ACC games, which would allow the Irish to have a full schedule plus non-conference games against Navy and Arkansas.

While there remains large questions of whether there will be any football played at all this fall, one game seems a lock, which is ND at Navy on Labor Day weekend.

The game had originally been scheduled to be played in Dublin, Ireland in August, but was switched to Annapolis earlier this summer.

And while there are questions about protocols for game day, scheduling a game at Navy seems like sure bet, because Navy can totally control the environment and Notre Dame can fly in out of Baltimore, play the game in near-by Annapolis and then fly home with relatively few obstacles.

All of this remains speculative, but plans will be unveiled over the next several days as college football continues its battle to save its fall season.

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Mark Blaudschun

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