Monday, August 3, 2015
NOTRE DAME: DO THEY BELONG N THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF MIX?
There are five major conferences in college football and five more in the Football Bowl Subdivision. In addition, three schools: Army, BYU and Notre Dame are independents. All teams in those conferences and the three unaffiliated squads are eligible to be included in the four team College Football Playoff. Realistically, it's really the Big 5 conferences and Notre Dame that have a shot at one of the four spots in the playoffs. Under the prior rules, Notre Dame was essentially a conference unto itself. If they finished n the top eight in the polls, they were guaranteed a BCS bowl spot. Now, there are no guarantees for anyone, with the CFP committee determining inclusion. But unlike the past, Notre Dame has membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference for every sport except football. What has changed from the BCS days is that Notre Dame now has an obligation to play six ACC games every season. I was totally opposed to Notre Dame's status during the BCS days because they had total control over their own schedule. But now, a look at the Irish schedule shows a much different scenario. They open with Texas, play Virginia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and Boston College from the ACC and USC and Stanford from the Pac-12. Their remaining games are Massachusetts, Navy and Temple. No high schools in the bunch. As much as it pains me to say it, I've spent a lot of time evaluating schedules and Notre Dame's is clearly comparable to those of most of the Big 5 schools. Do they play Florida State? No, but they played them last year and they do get USC and Stanford from the Pac-12. Does Virginia Tech play Florida State and Clemson this season? No, they play neither, and they're a full member of the league. Ohio State dodges Wisconsin and Nebraska in the regular season Big Ten schedule. Missouri doesn't play Alabama, Auburn or Texas A&M from the SEC West. The list could go on, so if Notre Dame runs the table or even finishes 11 - 1, they will probably deserve a shot at a place in the final four. I happen to think it's only a matter of time until Notre Dame drops Stanford and ends up full time in the ACC. With one more major conference realignment in the offing, most likely with Arkansas moving to the Big Twelve and some consolidation of a couple of other conferences to form a sixth power league, it's inevitable that we eventually get to six automatic qualifiers and two at-large teams to comprise an eight team playoff. Just remember where you heard it first.