Here are the vital football points to come out of Notre Dame athletics director’s Jack Swarbrick’s meeting with the media on Wednesday evening.
Jack Swarbrick said Notre Dame will have five ACC teams on the football schedule per year by 2014.
1. Notre Dame will begin its agreed upon football five-game ACC affiliation play in 2014.
It will start with Notre Dame playing three ACC teams at home in 2014 and two on the road. The next year it will be two at home and three on the road, and so on. Who and how it will play out is to be determined later.
“We'll identify the available dates and it will be for the conference to fill those by whatever mechanism they choose,” Swarbrick said. “I can't make any predictions to how they will do it … At least in the early years, I think the scheduling is almost going to solve itself based on availabilities. There will be a lot more flexibility in the out years to set it up however we want.”
For the other sports in which Notre Dame will be a full-time ACC affiliate, Swarbrick said Notre Dame will first meet its obligations with the Big East. Ideally, he would like to join Pitt and Syracuse as the three new members in the conference at the start of the 2013-14 school year because “it's in everybody's interests to do it sooner rather than later.”
2. As an independent in football, Notre Dame still plans to 1) play in California every year (USC in even years and Stanford in odd), 2) keep its unique rivalry with Navy, dating back every year since 1927 and 3) keep a presence in the southwest.
“And of course, [the ACC] gives us a great East Coast footprint and we want to make sure we keep a Midwest presence, too,” Swarbrick said. “So we will meet our mission of making sure Notre Dame is playing everywhere in the country.”
There will be some change-ups regarding playing some of the traditional Midwest rivals just to leave room to leave everything balanced in future schedules. Michigan and Michigan State every season might not be in the cards.
“It's obvious that we will not be able to maintain every rivalry every year,” Swarbrick said. “We are going to work to maintain as many of our traditional games as we can.”
3. ACC schools such as Boston College, Pittsburgh, Miami Syracuse that are already on future schedules provide building blocks in the future slates, but the ACC will be deciding how and when it plays out.
Notre Dame and Boston College had reportedly been booked through 2019, while the Irish and Miami had a home-and-home in 2016-17.
“They will have the dates available and they will work with their members on what the best allocation is,” Swarbrick said.
Future games with schools such as Texas (2015-16 and 2019-20) or BYU (six games through 2020) are expected to be retained.
4. Joining the ACC as a football independent began in earnest after the dust cleared from the new four-team BCS playoff resolution.
“There were several critical dynamics here and the biggest one of all was to understand what the BCS resolution would be,” Swarbrick said. “… And that's when the process began, and we worked pretty consistently on it from the time we got the BCS resolution to today.”
Joining a conference that academically fit Notre Dame and was willing to make the concession that the Irish football program can remain independent overall was the goal … and the ACC acquiesced.
5. The off-site home games are still expected to be a part of the football scheduling process — and an ACC game could be part of it, just like Maryland at Washington D.C. last year and Miami in Chicago this season.
“It's certainly a strong preference of ours to continue those,” Swarbrick said. “We continue to be very pleased with what that does for the University program foremost; and secondly, yes, I think it could be an opportunity to fill some of the scheduling with the ACC. I think there will be some places we will go where it would be very logical.”
6. Notre Dame’s contract with NBC Sports through 2015 is still strong, but what the future holds there is more open ended.
Notre Dame’s new digital media center is working in conjunction with NBC Sports, both campus-wide and in football telecasts.
“That's been the focus of our discussion with them,” Swarbrick said. “We are still talking about whether to extend the agreement now or wait but neither of us feels any particular pressure to do that one way or another.
"But our independence is served because we do have our own media arrangement to highlight the program and send those powerful messages about the University, in the what-would-you-fight-for spots that we show.”
7. A crucial aspect to having the affiliation with the ACC is Notre Dame now is not having to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find a bowl to go to if it does not qualify for the BCS.
Starting in 2014, if Notre Dame finishes in the top 4, it will be vying for a title. If it just misses the top 4, then it likely will have an opportunity as one of the tie-ins to the Orange Bowl. And if it is neither, then there is going to be ACC tie-ins for the next tier of bowls.
According to ACC commissioner John Swofford, Notre Dame will be eligible to be selected in any instance in which it is 1) ranked higher than another ACC team that might go, or 2) the Irish record is better than equal to or within one game of the ACC team.
Swarbrick admitted that part of the reason Notre Dame is departing the Big East is because he concluded that “our Bowl options would be significantly better in an affiliation with the ACC than they would be in an affiliation with the Big East.”
8. Swarbrick was especially gratified about this monumental decision because stability seems to be returning to the collegiate landscape.
"It's an awful lot of attention for a school that's not relevant anymore,” he joked. “And so that was very nice to see.
“That would be one of the nicest possible legacies — if five years from now we look back on this deal and say, ‘You know what, that ushered in a period of where we focused on what was going on on the field and not what was going on in the AD's office in college sports.’ And I think it will.”