How The Notre Dame-ACC Football Schedule Rotation Can Work In The Early Years

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

The Boston College-Notre Dame series, which was set to expire after the 2010 meeting, was extended for six games through 2019 back in June of 2010. The Eagles and Irish agreed to meet six times over a nine year period, with Notre Dame hosting in 2011, 2016, and 2018 and making the return trip to the Heights in 2012, 2015, and 2019.

With Notre Dame's new ACC football scheduling model in place, those four dates out in the future -- 2016 and 2018 in South Bend and 2015 and 2019 in Chestnut Hill -- are now in question.

According to Associate A.D. Chris Cameron, the Irish will play out their contracted games with the Eagles.

The Associated Press is reporting something slightly different, saying that the Irish's annual games with Pittsburgh and Boston College will come to an end. Technically, games played in '15, '16, '18 and '19 can't be considered an "annual series," but you get the point. Notre Dame has existing scheduling obligations with a number of ACC programs -- including future games against BC, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Miami and Wake Forest. How will these obligations fit into Notre Dame's future scheduling rotation with ACC programs?

Notre Dame will be on the hook to play five football games annually against ACC teams, playing each program once every three years. Starting in 2014, the Irish will play three home and two road games, and the following year two home and three road games in alternating fashion.

Just how the conference will fill those slots is yet to be determined, but you better believe that the dates will be wholly on Notre Dame's terms.

"So [Notre Dame will] identify the available dates and it will be for the conference to fill those, by whatever mechanism they choose. I can't make any predictions to how they will do it. I think they are committed to trying to get all of the members scheduled with NotreDame in a relatively short period of time. So football will be 2014."

Basically, the Irish will give the conference five dates a year to fill and the ACC will oblige them. If the ACC can only fill four of those five dates in the early years, oh well. Tough luck. Swarbrick added:

"So at least in the early years, I think the scheduling is almost going to solve itself based on availabilities. There will be a lot more flexibility in the out years to set it up however we want."

So don't go expecting a straight ACC rotation for a number of years until Notre Dame, as well as ACC programs, can free up slots on the non-conference portion of the calendar to slot into this arrangement.

To mitigate the financial loss in having to cancel any of these future non-conference series, my guess is Notre Dame and the ACC will jointly agree to bolt on an early ACC scheduling rotation around these previously existing scheduling obligations with BC, Syracuse, Pitt and Miami. The end product may look something like this:

Home 1 Home 2 Home 3 Away 1 Away 2 Away 3
2014 Pittsburgh (11/8) [OPEN] [OPEN] Syracuse* (9/27) [OPEN]
2015 Wake Forest (11/7) Syracuse (11/21) @ Pittsburgh (11/14) [OPEN] [OPEN]
2016 Miami (10/8) Pittsburgh (10/29) Boston College (TBA) Syracuse* (TBA) [OPEN]
2017 Syracuse (10/7) [OPEN] @ Miami (11/25) [OPEN] [OPEN]
2018 [OPEN] Boston College (TBA) [OPEN] [OPEN] [OPEN]
2019 [OPEN] [OPEN] @ Boston College (TBA) [OPEN] [OPEN]

Given that BC, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Miami will face Notre Dame twice over a six year period, these four programs will likely be exempt from taking up any more scheduling slots through 2019. That leaves 10 ACC schools to fill 16 slots on the Irish's schedule -- seven in South Bend and nine at home. One of those ten programs is Wake Forest, which already has a road game scheduled with Notre Dame in 2015.

That doesn't quite get the conference to the agreed upon 2 games in 6 years model, but it's not all that far off either. This hybrid scheduling model allows for Notre Dame to honor its pre-existing scheduling agreements while getting close enough to the agreed ACC schedule rotation.

Of course, come 2020, both the conference and Notre Dame can move to a strict scheduling rotation that will only bring the Irish to the Heights once every six years. That will be a sad day.

* played in East Rutherford, N.J. (going to assume that the game stays there and Notre Dame considers this one of the "road" games, natch)

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