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2014 schedule comes into focus with Rice game announced

Dec 20, 2011, 6:39 PM EDT

Rice Owls

(I was traveling for Christmas today so we’ll get to some good Tee Shepard news, a FSU Felony update, and some interesting BK comments later tonight/tomorrow.)

It might have slid under the radar, but Rice announced an addition to their football schedule for 2014, adding Notre Dame to their slate of games. The Owls will visit South Bend in what appears to be a one-game series, on a date still to be determined.

“Notre Dame is a program that shares our core beliefs about college athletics,” Rice athletics director Rick Greenspan said. “We both believe that the pursuit of excellence in the classroom need not become secondary to the pursuit of championships in athletics. This type of scheduled is reflective of the greater overall vision for the second century of Rice Athletics.

“We are excited to add this game to the schedule in order to give our student-athletes and our fans this tremendous opportunity to experience a game day in South Bend and renew this series with the Irish,” Greenspan added.

While the 2012 schedule will grab headlines for it’s opening game in Dublin, dates with Miami in Soldier Field and a trip to Norman, Oklahoma, the evolution of the schedule has been interesting to watch with Jack Swarbrick helping to undo the 7-4-1 scheduling conundrum Kevin White instituted while atop the athletic department.

The Irish have all but dropped the seventh home game from the schedule, scheduling five away games while keeping a neutral site home game on their slate, creating a unique 6-5-1 model. Next year, that neutral site match-up will be at Soldier Field. In 2013, it’ll be at Cowboys Stadium against Arizona State. In 2014, the Irish will battle Syracuse in the Meadowlands for Big Apple supremacy.

The 2014 schedule is shaking out interestingly, with the Irish potentially softening up the front-end of their schedule. The game with Rice could be a potential fit for a home opener, with the Irish set to play Navy and Purdue, before a home date with Michigan. Not to take schools like Navy and Purdue lightly, but that’s the proper way to open a season before playing Michigan, not front-loading difficult opponents like the Irish have done in the past.

(For those worried that the schedule is turning too soft, don’t worry — 2015 and 2016 have the Irish alternating between Texas and Michigan in the first two weeks of the season.)

The Irish also welcome opponents Northwestern and Arizona State in 2014, and could potentially round out their schedule with a game against BYU, who Notre Dame agreed to play four times between 2014 and 2020.

The Rice game won’t steal headlines or get a round of applause from traditionalists, but finding an opponent that’ll travel to you without being assured a return game isn’t the easiest of tasks.



  1. dickasman - Dec 20, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    SWEET!!!! Automatic victory. When will we play Soy Sauce University?

  2. billymc75 - Dec 20, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    Why not Tcu?

  3. cameronemclaughlin - Dec 20, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Tee Shepard.
    I want this guy on our squad.

    • jomilly - Dec 20, 2011 at 10:50 PM

      great post, thanks

    • 9irish - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:16 AM

      that is good stuff…talk about somebody who knows how to get over it, and probably has senses we don’t even know. Very good kid. Go Irish

    • bernhtp - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:28 AM

      I bet he would be a candidate for new implantable hearing technology like this:

  4. gracehall1980 - Dec 20, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    As adult that lost his hearing in one ear as an adult in the 1980’s, I still struggle in many environments. Can’t imagine what this young man has had to work through, both in the classroom and on the football field. More power to him (and may he be Irish).

  5. norcalirish - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    I’ve heard a lot of rumors that ND and Stanford will be playing in China in a couple of years. Any info?

  6. bernhtp - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Rice is a great addition to the schedule. Rice is an elite academic institution and provides some competitive relief in a tough schedule. It would be good to add an away game with Rice to add visibility in the talent-rich Houston Texas recruiting area.

    It will be interesting to see the recruiting impact of the Oklahoma game in Dallas next year and the upcoming series with U Texas starting in 2015. It’s been a long time since Notre Dame has been in Texas (I don’t count the Wash St. game in the Alamo dome two years ago).

  7. alsatiannd - Dec 21, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    I like the Rice game. In fact, they’re on my Ideal ND Schedule. (Not a bad conference either)

    Stanford (#5)
    Duke (#10)
    Northwestern (#12)
    Rice (#17)
    Vanderbilt (#17)
    Cal (#21)
    USC (#23)
    UCLA (#25)
    Virginia (#25)
    Navy (–)
    Michigan (#28)

    In paranthesis is the school’s acadmemic rank according to US News. The one exception is keeping the traditional Navy game instead of Wake Forest (#25 academically). ND is #19 in the ranking I used.

    Three of those teams were Top 20 this year. Virginia, Cal and Northwestern can hover on the fringe of Top 20 in a good year. UCLA should, but who knows why not. Two perenial softies, but almost every schedule or conference has that many.

    Call it the Big Brains Conference, or the Braniac 12

  8. jonathanfesler - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    I was wondering what all the other big time ND fans think about ND eventually joining a conference? Big 10 pro’s and cons, big east, pro’s and cons? I have my views which I’ll express if u can get some of you big boys virws!!!

    • trbowman - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      ND joining a conference = terrible idea

  9. jonathanfesler - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    pro= oppertunity to play in a conference championship? Warm up for the bowl season?

  10. acieu - Dec 21, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    If they joined a real conference they couldn’t have the cup cake schedules they seem to believe will turn into high national rankings. Rive fits the ND mode mostly avoid quality opponents.

  11. papadec - Dec 22, 2011 at 1:56 AM

    @ cameron – that should put to rest the Tee commitment concerns – including mine. Thanks for sharing.

  12. cpfirish - Dec 22, 2011 at 6:47 AM

    ND join a conference! Not a good idea..!

  13. jonathanfesler - Dec 22, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    If they joined the big 10 they already play 3 of them every year, mi, mi St and Purdue, all 3 are usually top 25 teams, they’re out of conference schedule would be harder than any of the others with USC, Navy (not Patsi’s anymore)!! and still be able to keep regularly scheduling with Stanford, BYU, Boston Collage etc, not Toledo, Acron etc like the other big 10 schools do!

  14. jonathanfesler - Dec 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    According to Phil Steele ND strength of schedule was 14th I wouldn’t call any it them pushovers especially with the rivalry games like Boston Collage who had a down year but still played ND tough! When they first started playing Stanford they were considered a cakewalk? That sure has changed! bottom line if your a top 25 or even 30 team, your a pretty good team that can beat anybody on any given day!!! FYI I am pro playoff and hopefully Collage Football will keep moving in that direction!!!

  15. jonathanfesler - Dec 22, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    If they joined the Big East depending on who all still are leaving or joining? The way they sit now ND would be able to compete they are also a member in all other sports and would surely save the conference! They could also keep they’re regular teams they play every year, Mi, Mi St, USC, Purdue, that out of conference schedule would counter balance playing in a weak conference depending on what the future holds for the big East! I can’t figure out why Bosie St is going to the Big East when the PAC 12 or Big 12 would be more suitable for them?

  16. jonathanfesler - Dec 22, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    I forgot about Navy maybe have to start rotating them each year?

  17. papadec - Dec 23, 2011 at 4:50 AM

    I trust Jack Swarbrick to make the correct decision to stand pat, or join a conference at the appropriate time. I prefer the Independent status that includes Mich, Mich St, Purdue, usc, Stanford, Navy, and a nice mix of opponents around the country. I feel the current 6-5-1 mix with games @ neutral sites is great for ND fans & alums, and recruiting. I see no ND advantage to joining a conference – at this time. Besides it gives the trolls something to gripe about.

  18. jonathanfesler - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    I agree that there is a argument for both ways! The curent way is the way it’s been all my life (57yrs) now not relevant in the big pitcher for a better part of the last 10 years! Every BCS game we’ve been to see’s us getting our ass’s handed to us? Mid range bowl games and maybe a top 25 end of season rating is about all we can look forward to? BK says he can coach 3 star players up to 5 star players, he has been recruiting good but I’m not seeing it on the field! Mistakes killed this team this year! I like the independent status also but I would be open to change as the collage landscape changes which is happening right now! If we move to a playoff system which I’m for we may be forced to join a conference?

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