Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference released its full conference schedule. Its attitude toward Notre Dame football seems pretty telling.
Notre Dame football has been adamant about its independence for as long as anyone can remember. In 2014, Notre Dame gave in–at least a little bit–to the ACC, agreeing to a partial membership in football. Notre Dame would play five ACC games per season, but keep its independence, its television contract, and all the advantages of being independent.
This year, however, it would seem that the ACC is trying to send a subtle hint as to what it really wants from the Notre Dame football program.
With a hat tip to Pete Sampson of The Athletic, it seems that the ACC isn’t too happy with the advantages Notre Dame enjoys as an independent. At least that’s how I interpret it.
The Irish play five ACC opponents in 2019–at Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Duke, and Boston College. Of those five opponents, only one of them plays a game the week before facing Notre Dame. That distinction goes to Virginia, who hosts Old Dominion in Charlottesville on September 21st, one week before heading to South Bend to face the Irish.
Why the ACC chose to schedule it this way, I can’t exactly be sure. But I have my guesses. At the very least, it seems that this was no coincidence. And while the five ACC teams featured on the 2019 schedule don’t seem to pose much of a real threat to Notre Dame, there’s nothing like giving them an extra week to prepare just to make things more interesting, right?
Notre Dame, as they always do, has an uphill climb to the College Football Playoff in 2019 and the ACC is doing the Irish no favors. Should there be any protest by Notre Dame (there probably won’t be), the ACC likely will play the “join the conference and you won’t have to worry about it” card.
As it stands, the ACC has 14 teams, split into 2 divisions–the Coastal Division and the Atlantic Division. Teams from the ACC play 4 non-conference games, 7 games within the division, and 1 conference crossover game. One would think that the ACC would love to add Notre Dame and another school to make 8 teams in each division. There would be no need for crossover games and the winner of each division would go to the ACC title game.
For now, Notre Dame is nice and cozy where it sits as an independent, but every day it seems that another organization takes a shot at Notre Dame’s independence. How long will the Irish be able to hold off the attack?