Monday, December 8, 2014

The Inevitable Choice Notre Dame Will Have To Make

Notre Dame is already in the ACC in every sport except football. They chose to remain independent with the agreement that they would play 5 ACC teams a year. The Irish subsequently had to end it's rivalry with Michigan in order to keep rivalries with USC, Stanford, and Navy. Notre Dame also has plans to renew it's rivalry with Michigan State after a two year gap in 2016.

That all looked good as Notre Dame could add tough ACC teams without losing it's traditional rivals. But now there is the reality of the playoff selection committee. Over the weekend, they clearly showed how much value they place in conference championship games. The Final Four consists of Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State. All four won their conference championship. Meanwhile, Big 12 co-champs Baylor and TCU where left out. Not having that game hurt them. 12-1 is better than 11-1. That is just simple math.

What that means is that even if Notre Dame didn't fall apart after the Navy game, they probably would not have gotten in at 11-1. What that means in the future is that as long as Notre Dame keeps it's independence, it will likely have to go undefeated to get in.

So that leads to the inevitable question of what does Notre Dame do? Do they join the ACC for football as well? That would certainly give them the opportunity to play in that title game. It would also give them some easy conference games. A perspective I heard this weekend was that Notre Dame's schedule year after year is tougher than what it would be if they were a regular ACC member.

But at the same time, there would be drawbacks as well. Notre Dame doesn't share any revenue from bowl games, NBC contract, etc. with anybody. That would change if they were in the ACC. Also even more rivals would go away. In State rival Purdue would be out for good. Sparty would be gone as well. What would happen to Navy and Stanford would be up in the air. I would think that the USC game would still go on.

I hate the thought of not playing those games. But I also hate the fact of being penalized for not having a game that will keep Notre Dame out of the playoff more often than not. Notre Dame will inevitably have to face this reality. They will have to decide whether it is more important to keep their traditions or being able to consistently get into the playoff. This is not an easy decision at all. I am glad I am not making it.

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