Notre Dame Football: Irish have easier schedule as full ACC member

Notre Dame football (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Notre Dame football (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Many fans will get a taste of what they when Notre Dame temporarily joins the ACC this season. But Notre Dame football is the true beneficiary.

You’ll never convince a certain segment that Notre Dame football is best as an Independent. They don’t understand what makes Notre Dame different: A national fan base with traditional rivalries across the country and a network media deal for a single team is so extraordinary for college football that opposing fans rage against it. This is only exacerbated by Notre Dame’s inabilities on the biggest stages since Lou Holtz left.

So, this segment of the population has come up with several arguments as to why Notre Dame needs to join a conference. You’ve heard them before.

“Notre Dame can make the Playoff without winning a conference. It’s not fair!”

“Join the modern game, and stop living in the past.”

“They don’t have Independents in the NFL” – Gary Pinknell, former Missouri head coach.

Of course, one of the most common lies that gets thrown around by fans is that Notre Dame gets away with playing an easier schedule than other Power 5 teams. They say, Notre Dame gets to pick and choose who they play, which means their schedule is easier.

It’s always been a weak argument. Before the ACC deal, Notre Dame’s schedule was essentially a list of traditional rivals. This includes consistent pushovers like USC and Michigan. Since the ACC deal has come into play, the amount of traditional rivalry games has been cut down and replaced with ACC opponents.

Either schedule had around nine or ten power-five opponents on it, just as many as teams in one of those conferences. So, just because the schedule hasn’t been littered with SEC West teams, doesn’t mean that the schedule isn’t a strong one.

The irony of this argument, as Notre Dame plays an ACC conference schedule, their strength of schedule just got weaker.

Coming into this season, Notre Dame had 10 power five opponents on the schedule. Clemson was and is the headliner. However, from that initial schedule, Wisconsin, USC, Stanford, Arkansas, and Navy are all gone. The six initial ACC opponents Western Michigan.

From that list of lost teams, Wisconsin was just in the Rose Bowl, and USC has more natural athleticism than anyone but Clemson. Stanford is well-coached, and always a tough game.

So, who replaced them? Boston College, North Carolina, Florida State, and Syracuse were added to round out the ACC schedule.

That’s a Boston College team who hasn’t been able to practice with a new coaching staff. That’s a North Carolina team, talented at quarterback, and everyone’s flavor of the hour as an ACC sleeper. Florida State, like Boston College, hasn’t had the time to properly work with a new staff. Meanwhile, the Seminoles still have absolutely no offensive line. Then, there’s Syracuse who missed a bowl game in 3 of 4 seasons with Dino Babers at the helm.

In all of this, arguably the top two ACC teams on Notre Dame’s schedule — Clemson and Louisville — were, arguably, already on it.

Next. New schedule shapes up well for Irish. dark

This all begs the question, why do people pretend that Notre Dame’s schedule would be tougher in a conference than it is as an Independent? They play several ranked teams, across the country, every season. The ACC, PAC-12, and Big 12 are all top heavy conferences, whose schedules don’t provide the same level of depth that Notre Dame’s does.