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Scott Novak: I hope the excitment lasts

Published 1:31pm Friday, September 21, 2012

As I was reading through my social media this morning, I had to laugh as I read post after post about how excited everyone was that it was finally the weekend of the Notre Dame-Michigan game.

Why do I find that funny?

Well, I find it humorous because all this excitement could go away in about two years.

With Notre Dame’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), it will have to make some serious decisions about its future football schedules.

The Irish have agreed to play five games against ACC opponents each year and they have to play every team in the conference at least once every three years.

Five games is almost half the schedule. I have already read that ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick wants to keep USC, Stanford and Navy on the schedule every year.

That’s eight games already spoken for on a 12-game schedule.

So where does that leave the likes of regional rivals Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan?

According to Swarbrick, Notre Dame will keep some traditional rivals, but he made it clear in an interview following the announcement about the move that he wants to expand the Irish brand into the southwest.

“We are still going to be in California every year and we are still going to find ways to get into southwest,” he said. “And of course, this gives us a great East Coast footprint and we want to make sure we keep a Midwest presence, too. So we will meet our mission of making sure Notre Dame is playing everywhere in the country.”

While that sounds nice on ESPN and other sports networks, what does it really mean?

From my vantage point it means there would be a rotation of teams to fill the other four slots on upcoming football schedules.

Two of Notre Dame’s biggest rivals are Michigan and Michigan State. But in order to be able to do what Swarbrick says he wants to do with the schedule, I cannot see how they can continue to play the Wolverines and the Spartans on a yearly basis.

Heck, Notre Dame already has Texas and Oklahoma scheduled over the next couple of years. So now we’re at nine or 10 games on the schedule and only two slots left.

Some of my fondest memories of Notre Dame football have come against the likes of Michigan, Michigan State and USC. Classic games that have helped make college football what it is today.

I am saddened at the prospect of not seeing those games year in and year out. But these are the times we live in. Money talks, and I’m sure financially this is a good move for Notre Dame because I know they wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t.

My only question is, why they continue to beat their chest about being an independent? You have agreed to play nearly half of your annual schedule within the confines of the ACC. So why not jump all the way in?

It reminds me of a guy who lives with his girlfriend for 10 or more years, but doesn’t have the conviction of commitment to marry her.

Of course we have to wait to see how this all shakes out. Until then, I guess I will keep reading and keep chuckling at the fans who are so excited about a tradition that may soon be tempered by this decision.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at

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