COVID-19 has many re-thinking past traditions, including whether Notre Dame football should join a conference.
Notre Dame football is in a strange spot heading in to the 2020 college football season. Assuming that a season does occur, it is looking more and more as if most teams will be playing a conference-only schedule. The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced as much in recent days and it would only make sense for other major conferences to follow suit.
For the Irish, that means that finding opponents in 2020 becomes a little more complicated. All reports are, however, that the ACC would be willing to adopt Notre Dame and use the Irish as full-time member in 2020. What that potentially means in the short-term for the Irish, however, isn’t the point of this article.
If the Irish participate as full-time member in the ACC this season, it may be a glimpse toward a “new normal” for Notre Dame: Joining a conference.
Obviously, this has been a touchy subject among Irish fans in recent memory, so let me start by saying this: I understand what joining a conference means. I understand why Notre Dame currently remains independent and the benefits of the NBC deal, a national brand that gets to play all over the country, and traditional rivalries that may go by the wayside if the Irish tie themselves down. I understand those arguments — in fact, I’ve made those arguments many times.
But would joining a conference really be the worst for the Irish? Let’s take a look at what this might look like for Notre Dame and why it might make at least a little bit of sense: