Tag: Jack Swarbrick

Kelly Swarbrick Jenkins

Swarbrick’s not ready to talk about 13th game


After watching TCU and Baylor get jumped by Ohio State after the Buckeyes rolled Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, Big 12 conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby openly wondered if his conference was hurt because it didn’t have a 13th game.

That worry—and the fact that the Big 12 is now likely pursuing legislation that would allow such an event to take place—has Notre Dame fans wondering about their place in the postseason, if the Irish get into a beauty pageant for one of the final spots in the four-team playoff.

Some Irish fans wonder if the lack of championship game means Notre Dame will eventually become full members in the ACC. Some are campaigning for an annual faceoff with Hawaii (sign me up).

And Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has heard all the concerns. He spoke with ESPN’s Heather Dinich about the situation, not exactly worried about the future implications.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of letters I get from fans with proposals on how to get a 13th game,” Swarbrick told ESPN from the College Football Playoff spring meetings. “It’s just crazy. All of them have one common feature about them: There’s not a chance in hell the other school or conference would be willing to do it. Honest to goodness, I get the most creative letters on this topic; it’s crazy.”

At a time of year where little topics have no choice but to become big stories, the worry of exclusion is now the topic de jour, finding a root in Irish fans deepest worry—being stuck on the outside looking in if Notre Dame happens to have one less victory than other CFB Playoff contenders.

Not surprisingly, Swarbrick takes the long view on the subject. It’s no surprise that one of the principal architects of the CFB Playoff isn’t ready to jump to any conclusions after the first season of the wildly successful format.

“It’s not that there’s a 13th game,” Swarbrick explained. “It’s always going to be against a really good opponent. It’s the conference championship game. It’s not the aggregate number, it’s who you’re playing.

“There are going to be years where a team looks like they’re going to get in and gets upset in their conference championship game and they don’t get in. Did the 13th game help them? No. I’m not saying that’s a reason to do it or not do it, I’m just saying one year’s worth of experience with this system is way too small to draw any conclusions about how it will play out over time.”


Both Swarbrick and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly talk about scheduling often, acknowledging Irish independence as a major reason why Notre Dame doesn’t hide from playing one of the most challenging schedules in the nation. So while Big 12 fans point to the last weekend of the season, they should be just as likely to question some of the cupcake non-conference games both teams scheduled.

With playoff hopes sky high for Notre Dame in 2015, a schedule that features an opening stretch against Texas, Virginia and Georgia Tech, and also has the Irish facing off with Clemson, USC and Stanford shouldn’t be much of a worry.

As Swarbrick is all but saying, win the football games and the rest will take care of itself.

Kelly hits the recruiting trail to bring back Stanley and Day

Notre Dame v Syracuse

Say this for Brian Kelly. He learns from his mistakes.

And after losing Stephon Tuitt and Troy Niklas after just three seasons in South Bend, Notre Dame’s head coach made sure he had a final say before Ronnie Stanley and Sheldon Day made their stay-or-go decision.

Kelly hit the road over winter break to make sure his best two seniors understood how badly the Irish coaching staff wanted them to return next season, and — just as important — how it would be in their best interest to do so.

Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman has more, including quotes from Kelly on the recruiting trips the Irish head coach — and a caravan including assistant coaches and athletic director Jack Swarbrick — took to both Stanley and Day’s homes.

“I’ve had great success keeping Michael Floyd here, keeping Tyler Eifert here, keeping Manti Te’o here and then last year I was disappointed about one of our players not staying,” Kelly told Fox Sports. “I was not going to leave it up to fate anymore that somebody would understand from my perspective that you should stay for these reasons. I was gonna get on the road and make sure we did this.”

For Stanley, that meant bringing Harry Hiestand to Las Vegas and connecting the junior offensive tackle with Dallas Cowboys All-Pro rookie Zack Martin. It also meant bringing an academic advisor along to help better understand the timing of things like OTAs and an academic plan that’ll have him ready for graduation after next season.

For Day, it meant a visit from Mike Elston and Paul Longo. It also meant an apples to apples comparison with former Pitt star Aaron Donald, who Irish fans have already deemed the optimal prototype for the undersized defensive tackle.

“Our strength coach was with us on that one because we wanted to look at some numbers from the Combine that we wanted to make him aware of,” said Kelly. “We felt like we wanted to get him into (former Pitt All-American) Aaron Donald’s numbers. It was, ‘Right now let’s say four teams really like you. If you start hitting these physical numbers, we think 20 teams are gonna really like you, and that’s the net benefit for you.'”

More important than any sales pitch was another option Notre Dame was offering. An insurance policy the university would pay for that would cover any loss of value, a commitment that Swarbrick himself gave to both players.

At a school that’s promoting a 40-year decision, adding success stories like Stanley and Day is crucial to the recruiting message to other elite prospects hoping to have the chance to play at the next level. Adding an All-American like Stanley to the “Notre Dame graduate” list continues to separate the Irish from other programs that look more like football factories.

On the field, bringing back this duo is just as critical. After seeing holes in the depth chart after early departures ripped some key building blocks off the 2014 roster, hitting the road and protecting his own roster is just as key to building the 2015 team as finishing the recruiting class strong.

Do yourself a favor and read Feldman’s complete story here.

Future ACC schedules come into focus

Jack Swarbrick

With Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement in place with the ACC, Jack Swarbrick and the Irish athletic department can find some certainty in their future slates. That certainty was announced Tuesday, with dates for five ACC games in place through 2019 and matchups set through 2025.

While we already knew the 2014-16 schedule, locking into place matchups through 2025 allows Notre Dame’s athletic department to begin hunting down new opponents — and hopefully bringing back some old ones — as scheduling in the playoff era takes shape.

“Nine additional seasons of games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents again adds both variety and quality to future University of Notre Dame football schedules,” Swarbrick said in a statement.

The Irish will average five ACC games over these years, with four games played in 2014, 2022 and 2024 and six games in 2015, 2019 and 2023. Four programs that have never played in Notre Dame Stadium will visit, with Louisville set for later this year, North Carolina State visiting in 2017, Virginia in 2018 and Virginia Tech in 2016. The Irish will also make their first visits to those campuses, and return to Clemson, Duke and Wake Forest, places they’ve only played once.

In 2015, Notre Dame’s new scheduling arrangement will be the first year in a century to not have a Big Ten team on the slate, with the conference reappearing in 2016 against Michigan State. The Irish will instead welcome Texas to the schedule in back to back seasons, followed by a two-game series in 2017 and 2019 with Georgia.

Here are the ACC dates moving forward:



  1. Notre Dame vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium (Sept. 27) *
  2. North Carolina at Notre Dame (Oct. 11)
  3. Notre Dame at Florida State (Oct. 18)
  4. Louisville at Notre Dame (Nov. 22)


  1. Notre Dame at Virginia (Sept. 12)
  2. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame (Sept. 19)
  3. Notre Dame at Clemson (Oct. 3)
  4. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (Nov. 7)
  5. Wake Forest at Notre Dame (Nov. 14)
  6. Notre Dame vs. Boston College at Fenway Park (Nov. 21) @


  1. Duke at Notre Dame (Sept. 24)
  2. Notre Dame vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium (Oct. 1) *
  3. Notre Dame at North Carolina State (Oct. 8)
  4. Miami at Notre Dame (Oct. 29)
  5. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame (Nov. 19)


  1. Notre Dame at Boston College (Sept. 16)
  2. Notre Dame at North Carolina (Oct. 7)
  3. North Carolina State at Notre Dame (Oct. 28)
  4. Wake Forest at Notre Dame (Nov. 4)
  5. Notre Dame at Miami (Nov. 11)


  1. Syracuse at Notre Dame (Sept. 22)
  2. Notre Dame at Virginia Tech (Oct. 13)
  3. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame (Oct. 20)
  4. Florida State at Notre Dame (Nov. 10)
  5. Notre Dame at Wake Forest (Nov. 17)


  1. Notre Dame at Louisville (Sept. 2/Labor Day)
  2. Virginia at Notre Dame (Sept. 28)
  3. Notre Dame at Georgia Tech (Oct. 19)
  4. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame (Nov. 2)
  5. Notre Dame at Duke (Nov. 9)
  6. Boston College at Notre Dame (Nov. 23) 


  1. Notre Dame at Wake Forest
  2. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
  3. Duke at Notre Dame
  4. Clemson at Notre Dame
  5. Louisville at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at Florida State (Sept. 6/Labor Day)
  2. Notre Dame at Virginia Tech
  3. North Carolina at Notre Dame
  4. Notre Dame at Virginia
  5. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at North Carolina
  2. Notre Dame at Syracuse
  3. Boston College at Notre Dame
  4. Clemson at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at North Carolina State
  2. Notre Dame at Duke
  3. Notre Dame at Louisville
  4. Wake Forest at Notre Dame
  5. Notre Dame at Clemson
  6. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame


  1. Miami at Notre Dame
  2. Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
  3. Florida State at Notre Dame
  4. Virginia at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at Miami
  2. North Carolina State at Notre Dame
  3. Notre Dame at Boston College
  4. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
  5. Syracuse at Notre Dame