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Bowl options make BCS the only sure thing

May 20, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT

Jack Swarbrick

With a solid nucleus returning from a twelve-win season, there’s every reason for there to be elevated expectations in South Bend this season. But the edict “BCS or Bust” shouldn’t just be a mantra in the Gug. It’s also a potential reality, thanks to the final year of Notre Dame’s rather sparse bowl affiliations.

At the ACC spring meetings, Jack Swarbrick acknowledged a doomsday scenario where the Irish come up short of a BCS game and slide through the cracks and go unselected by a bowl.

“We don’t have something set,” Swarbrick told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. “We have a lot of bowls and with conference realignment I think how that dynamic likely will play out in a few places, I think there will be bowl opportunities available.

“I understand you can create a scenario where there’s not [an opening], but I think there will be.”

Those scenarios tend to be the ones that get a ton of attention in the long summer months. And while the move to the ACC was an important one in shoring up the Irish’s postseason future when they aren’t a part of the four-team playoff, the most realistic solution might include the constant reshuffling of the conference deck-chairs paired with the impressive season Brian Kelly’s squad is coming off.

“I’m guessing there would be some bowls who would look to redo deals at the last minute to get Notre Dame,” a source told McMurphy.

That’s not entirely surprising news, considering Irish fans filled a stadium in Ireland and outdrew Alabama in the BCS title game. While the Irish don’t have the opportunity to play in the Champs Sports Bowl after taking on Florida State at the end of a disappointing 2011 campaign, just about any bowl game will explore a way to put Notre Dame in a game instead of the fifth or sixth best teams in a major conference.

Yet that’s long been the predicament the Irish have been in and one of the major objectives of Swarbrick’s tenure as AD. The move to the ACC, which was a gigantic step forward for the rest of the Irish sports programs — and a nicely timed exit from the crumbling Big East — also locked the Irish into the ACC’s more than healthy allotment of bowl games.

Already announced is the opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl, an appearance that’s worth an estimated by McMurphy to be worth $13.5 million. Just as important is the ability to appear in other games when the Irish don’t make it to the four-team playoff, which ACC commission John Swofford explained to ESPN.

“There will be a provision in which for Notre Dame to be selected over an ACC team at the point of selection, another eligible ACC team, that Notre Dame would have to be ranked higher, equal to, or in the win column, be within one win of any ACC teams that are also eligible to be picked,” Swofford said.

  1. thefightinfloyds - May 20, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Sounds great. The more and more I see the results of NDs affiliation with the ACC the more I like it. At first the Big Ten may make more sense but this move insures that ND can remain a national program. Joining the Big Ten wouldve pigeon holed us in the Midwest IMO…The 5 game commitment is where ND really sees the most benefit of this ACC deal. As long as Kelly and the football program can continue to win, this move could be more beneficial than NDs previous independent status. The one question I have is will ND be eligible to play in the ACC championship? I believe the ACC plays an 8 game conf schedule, so how would that work if ND goes 5-0 in conf play and everyone else in their division goes 5-3?

    • papadec - May 20, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      Interesting question – regarding the conference championship. I’m not sure ND is in either division. It seems to me, that I read somewhere, that they play ALL the ACC teams on a rotating basis, over a few years. Maybe that was in the initial Swarbrick announcement regarding ND joining the ACC for ALL sports except football, with 5 football games vs ACC teams each year?

  2. papadec - May 20, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Yes, there are scenarios that could exclude ND from a MAJOR Bowl Game. Winning 10, or more, games would pretty much guarantee an invitation over other conference teams. Contrary to the trolls who post that ND is irrelevant – ND is very relevant to Bowl Selection Committees, and the corporations that pay to advertise during those Bowl broadcasts. GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. dudeacow - May 20, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    No way we’re not going to a bowl this year (short of a 5 win season). 10 wins ensure a BCS bowl, 9 wins maybe if they are earlier in the year and we beat Stanford. And I agree with thefightinfloyds, this ACC deal is, well, a good deal. We could go 8-4 and get picked over a 9-3 FSU team (wouldn’t that be sweet). And we get recruiting exposure in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

    Speaking of recruiting, Rivals just gave Quenton Nelson his fifth star. He’s now the #3 OT, 16 player in the nation. That makes for two five stars in this class. Three other teams have one five star and the rest have none. Rivals has seemed to favor ND recently after years of seemingly underrating their commitments.

  4. heisenbyrg - May 20, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Rumors on twitter that Vanderdoes might be rethinking ND. UCLA is in play. Just rumors, but these things always begin as rumors.

    • ibleedirish - May 20, 2013 at 9:44 PM

      The rumor mill is really churning on this one. Even Jaylon Smith posted something about trying to get Vanderdoes to stay. Unfortunately in these cases it seems like where there’s smoke there’s usually a turd engulfed in flames somewhere.

      • nudeman - May 20, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        If he opts out – his choice – I hope Kelly refuses to release him to any school in CA, especially UCLA where he apparently wants to go. I don’t care about the “he’s just a kid” BS.

        Give him a list of schools he can’t go to, as is typically done, and include on the list:
        – All ACC schools
        – UM, MSU, Purdue
        – ASU, Pitt, Navy, Stanford and everyone else on ND’s schedule the next four years
        – ALL other CA schools, except maybe Long Beach

        Want to go to UNLV? N. Dakota State? Wisconsin-Green Bay?
        No problem

      • irishpuma - May 21, 2013 at 12:10 AM

        EV 4 out the door. We never even got to know you. Allegedly not a grade issue, entrance issue, so just plain cold feet. Think it over big man and at least give it a try. If not I agree with the good riddance principle; it goes to character. If someone can not stand by a decision after only 3 months and without ever stepping on campus ad an enrollee then it was never going to work anyway.

      • ctfivula - May 21, 2013 at 8:19 AM

        Yeah just heard this on my way to work this morning. I have always been a believer that this stuff happens but I just can’t help but become frustrated at this. I mean is there any other team that has had as many top tier recruits flip on them at the last minute or leave after they get on campus. It just seems odd to me. I hate to be the pessimist and think that this one kid will really hurt the team and the direction they are heading but man he could really make an impact. It just seems like these are the little things that are keeping ND from really establishing a top program with solid depth year after year. I can’t help but wonder if the fact that Kelly and ND have not come to an agreement yet is working against ND.What does signing day even mean anymore. Why don’t they just wait until summer camp and see who shows up. That would even make for some great TV. Picture all the media at each campus with play by play waiting to see who gets out of the next car that arrives on campus. It would definitely be entertaining to say the least.

      • stedward - May 21, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        If the ND academic standards are the issue, (which the rumor mill says is not the case) ND would have to release him. If they aren’t and he just has cold feet or whatever, we don’t have to release him to anyone and he will have to sit out a year.

    • dickasman - May 21, 2013 at 1:17 AM

      FOCK, touché, motherfocker.

      • dickasman - May 21, 2013 at 1:18 AM

        Is it possibly pregnancy issue?

  5. windycityirish - May 20, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    The good new is Notre Dame = $$$$ to any bowl. They have no chance of going unselected, they are far too important to college football.

  6. fnc111 - May 21, 2013 at 6:10 AM

    This is why I hate Kelly. He doesn’t get ND, doesn’t recruit RKG’s, and doesn’t have the ball sack to crush Meatchicken.

    He continually goes after kids that never will end up playing here and it hurts the program in the long run. He has more issues with decommitments than any other coach in America.

  7. norcalirish - May 21, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    ND is just a stepping stone for BK—you saw that when he was looking up the Eagles’ skirt when he was supposed to be game planning for alabama.

  8. c4evr - May 21, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    It’s all playing out exactly the way it’s supposed to…

  9. bb90grad - May 21, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Amen, c4ever. Next Man In baby…

  10. bb90grad - May 21, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Oops, now dickas will take “Man in baby” in a prurient direction. Sorry in advance.

  11. loadofwash - May 27, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Bowl option are out the window after last seasons thrashing. Roll Tide.

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