Here at HLS, we have already covered how brutal the 2012 slate is for the Irish. However, this year’s schedule may just be an appetizer if Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has his way.
Jack was instrumental in getting the four team playoff instituted in college football starting in 2014. And as Tex made it clear on Friday, we have the best AD in the country. So “In Jack We Trust”. Well, while hashing out all of the details regarding the future four team playoff, Swarbrick made it crystal clear that he wanted Strength of Schedule to be of utmost importance when it comes to choosing the final four.
Last week, Swarbrick appeared on ESPN 1000 radio in Chicago and had this to say:
“One of the things we like so much about that is as much as this happened in basketball in the past decade, the selection committee will send a real message about strength of schedule. If you choose not to challenge yourself, especially in the pre-conference games, it’s going to impact your rating. That’s another way we think we’re contributing to the vibrancy of the regular season through this process.”
Of course, the reference to pre-conference schedules is a shot aimed at all of the powerhouse teams that schedule absolute cupcakes before they start conference play, but the message is clear: Swarbrick believes that to be the best, you have to beat the best, and he is going to make sure that Notre Dame’s schedule gives them that opportunity.
Now, it was announced last week that the Notre Dame-Michigan series will go on hiatus in 2018-19. The last few times Notre Dame did not schedule Michigan, they had University of Texas (1995-96) and Texas A&M (2000-01) fill in their spot. If I had to guess, Notre Dame will look to fill in that Michigan slot with another marquee game. Here are some hypothetical games that I would like to see Notre Dame play:
1. Notre Dame-Wisconsin: This actually may be the most likely of the bunch to actually occur. Wisconsin head coach Brett Bielema has clearly expressed his desire to play Notre Dame. Wisconsin is perennially one of the top teams in the B1G, and therefore would be a logical replacement for Michigan on the schedule.
2. Notre Dame-Nebraska: Another B1G team, this could be the “Battle of College Football’s Most Respectful Fans”. It would certainly be a clash of two massive fanbases.
3. Notre Dame-Virgina Tech: The idea behind this series has been thrown around several times in the past, but I think it would be great if it came to fruition. It would be a great challenge for the Irish to square off against the best of the ACC.
4. Notre Dame-Boise St: The Boise State Broncos have long been the Cinderella story in college football, but struggle to get big-name opponents to face them. The thought process is that if major conference teams refuse to play them, Boise will be held out of key games (basically the BCS National Championship, or, in the future, the four team playoff) due to their inexcusably weak strength of schedule. They would be almost a lock to approve a series with Notre Dame, and it would still be an impressive win to add to the resume.
5. Notre Dame-Alabame/LSU/Florida: Notre Dame is more than due to throw its hat into the ring versus an SEC powerhouse. There is no doubt that the SEC is the Goliath of college football, and if Notre Dame wants to reclaim its spot at the top of landscape, we should have to go through the SEC to do it. It doesn’t particularly matter which SEC superpower we play (although Bama would be nice just for historical purposes, with all of those championships), as any chance to beat an SEC team would be a great opportunity.
Honorable Mention: Notre Dame-Oregon: Adidas vs. Nike.
While it is a complete mystery who Jack will actually add to the future schedules, you can bet the games won’t be easy. But it’s a challenge that will hopefully help Notre Dame’s chances to make the four team playoff, and one that I am really looking forward to.
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