As the dust settles on today's announcement that Notre Dame will be joining the ACC in all sports except football and ice hockey, with Irish football facing five ACC opponents annually, it time to assess the impact to Boston College football.
Lots of questions around the Notre Dame-ACC scheduling rotation. Unfortunately, it looks like going forward, the Boston College vs. Notre Dame football contest won't be played as often as it has been in the past.
ND AD Swarbrick: Boston College will no longer play ND every year in football. Will be part of the #ACC rotation— Laura Keeley (@laurakeeley) September 12, 2012
If Boston College becomes just another program in the Irish's ACC rotation, the Eagles will face the Irish once every three seasons and will play in South Bend once in a six year span. In addition to this year's matchup with Notre Dame, the Eagles and Irish are contracted to play in 2015 and 2019 in Chestnut Hill and 2017 and 2018 in South Bend.
A timetable hasn't been set for Notre Dame to join the conference, but it looks like the Irish will join for the 2014 or 2015 seasons. I'd imagine this means the end of these four contracted BC-Notre Dame dates from 2015-2019.
This isn't the best news of the day, but it's hardly the worst, either. BC-Notre Dame will morph into just another ACC vs. Notre Dame matchup, losing some of the luster that comes with the recent Holy War series. But BC can also use this added scheduling flexibility to its advantage. Here's to hoping that in years when BC doesn't draw the Irish, the next A.D. lines up at least one marquee BCS program in different parts of the country. Particularly with the move to a nine-game conference football schedule starting next season, the added flexibility is one of the advantages of a move to this scheduling model.
The other thing to keep in mind is it's not as if BC-Notre Dame hasn't taken years off in the Holy War series. The two programs were set to take a two year break in 2013 and 2014, before resuming hostilities in 2015 (BC replaced the Irish with USC). There was a similar two-year gap in the series from 2005-06 when Boston College made the move to the ACC. While not having BC-Notre Dame not be an annual occurrence may not be the best outcome here, this move does guarantee that the Eagles and Irish will play every few seasons. There wasn't any such guarantee that the series would have been extended beyond the current contract (2019).
Taking the 2015-2019 Notre Dame games off the table, here's a year by year rundown of the Eagles' future non-conference slate of games:
Note that with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the ACC will move to a 9-game Atlantic Division programs will play five home games in odd numbered years and four home games in even years.
No change to the Eagles' 2013 slate of games. Syracuse, which returned to the non-conference schedule following a two-year break in the series, will slot in as an Atlantic Division game.
Say the Irish don't join the ACC until 2015. If that's the case, BC still has a scheduling issue with the current 2014 slate. The Eagles currently have four games for just three slots. When Rhode Island announced it was moving its football program to the reduced scholarship NEC -- meaning a win over the Rams wouldn't count towards bowl eligibility -- I just assumed that BC would drop Rhode Island and keep USC, Army and UMass on the sched. Recently, URI reversed course, announcing that they would remain in the 60-scholarship CAA, so I'm not sure what happens now.
Also note that BC will have just four ACC home games. With a road game against UMass at Gillette and a neutral site game against Army at Yankee Stadium, BC could be left with just five home games in 2014 without some creative scheduling.
Best case scenario here is that Notre Dame slots in as a home game for the Eagles in 2015, giving the program eight home games. There is no I-AA game scheduled in 2015, but a schedule that includes both Buffalo and Army seems more than manageable.
The return trip to South Bend probably falls off the 2016 slate, giving the Eagles an opportunity to schedule a peer BCS program. I'd love to see the next A.D. pick up the phone and call one of Penn State / Michigan / UCLA / Stanford / Vanderbilt to schedule a home-and-home in 2016-17, with the home game played this season (given the Eagles will have just four ACC home games in even-numbered years).
BC doesn't have any non-conference programs scheduled in 2017. I'd imagine that we'll follow the scheduling blueprint here -- one BCS opponent, one program from the MAC / service academy and one I-AA program. Of interest to BC is that by 2017, wins over programs from the Patriot League will again count towards bowl eligibility. BC-Holy Cross revived, anyone?
Based on a strict ACC rotation, BC and Notre Dame would again meet three years later, tentatively putting a return trip to Notre Dame on the 2018 schedule as originally contracted. Throw in a I-AA team and the 2018 schedule looks pretty set.
Like 2017, the 2019 season is wide open. Depending on what happens with the Notre Dame rotation, the Irish may or may not roll off this year's slate. See list of BCS programs above. Hopefully one of those teams headlines this year's non-conference slate. Add in a MAC school and a I-AA team from the CAA, rinse, wash and repeat.