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While Notre Dame and the ACC continue dating, this season the two will be hooking up for a one-year marriage before the Irish go back to a longish-distance relationship in what is assumed to be a post-COVID world in 2021. Will Notre Dame ever give in to the ACC and let the Greensboro-based conference put a ring on it?
The question is asked all the time and Dabo Swinney was on the receiving end this week. But what would he think of the Irish taking this relationship to the next level and making it permanent?
“I’m happy they’re in the league,” Swinney said this week during a press conference. “Heck, I wish they were a permanent member in the league, to be honest with you. I think it’d be great. Every week, I always keep up with the ACC and what’s going on. Typically I may not be checking in on Notre Dame every week, but this year I’ll be paying closer attention because not only are they in our league but we play them.”
During a normal season, Notre Dame earns $15 million annually from its NBC deal and another $7 million from a partial ACC TV deal. Members of the ACC earn an average of $29 million in TV money from the conference deal. So why stay independent when joining the ACC would mean even more TV money? Some still believe Notre Dame is its own entity to the college football world and a conference isn’t worthy of such prestige. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick told The Athletic in 2019 that the ability to play in major U.S. cities like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago separates the school from those in conferences and Notre Dame likes this flexibility.
Permanently joining the ACC would mean required trips to Wake Forest, NC State, Duke, etc. It’s tough to excite the national alumni with trips to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
So while the ACC and Dabo would love for Notre Dame to accept their rose, it’s going to be a one-and-done for the Irish after 2020. They’ll go back to playing road games against Stanford, USC, get Michigan back into the mix, play Navy in D.C. and hope to run the table and get into the College Football Playoff where they won’t be sharing money with conference schools.
The 2020 season kicks off Saturday in South Bend when Duke comes to town. The game will kick at 2:30 ET on NBC. Tony Dungy will be on the call with Mike Tirico.