As we approach the end of July, we're starting to get more from college football's conferences on their plans for the upcoming season. According to multiple reports, the ACC is preparing for a "10 plus one" model, with Notre Dame football potentially in the mix.
On Thursday night, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported that the ACC is favoring a model in which teams will play 10 conference games—up from the current eight—plus one non-conference game. This would protect some major annual rivalries. Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Kentucky-Louisville, and the like would likely be saved on the schedule as a result.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already cut down their schedules to conference-only. The Pac-12 is reportedly close to rolling out its schedule, which will start on Sept. 19, delayed a few weeks from the Sept. 5 start date currently on the books.
Notre Dame football has already lost its games against Wisconsin and rivals USC and Stanford as a result. While the school has signaled that schools have expressed interest in adding the Fighting Irish for this fall, there is also a chance that the program bands with the ACC, which it is a member of for other sports, and has an annual scheduling agreement with. According to Brett McMurphy, Notre Dame could play 10 ACC teams this fall, and count in league standings.
This raises some major questions, one of which McMurphy addresses in his tweet. Assuming we have major bowl games, could Notre Dame slide into the Orange Bowl bid? If so, whichever school gets bumped in favor of the Fighting Irish would probably be very upset, as playing a New Year's Six bowl game is a big honor, and assuming Clemson makes the College Football Playoff, it would be a rare opportunity for another ACC program. Would Notre Dame be eligible to play in the ACC Championship Game? It stands to reason that if they play a full ACC slate, and count in the standings, they would be, but this is all uncharted territory. The Fighting Irish arrangement with the ACC is a contentious one for many fans of other league schools. If this sets up eventual full membership for the school, it is a huge win for the ACC. If not, fans are going to feel as if Notre Dame football is taking advantage of the conference when it is helping bail the school out of a rough situation. As of now, Notre Dame is scheduled to face Wake Forest, Pitt, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Louisville this fall. [
ACC’s top scheduling model is 10 league games plus 1 nonconference foe, sources told @Stadium. In this format if Notre Dame plays 10 ACC teams, results would count in ACC standings, sources said. Unknown if ND could earn ACC’s Orange Bowl bid. This needs ACC presidential approval
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 24, 2020
Update: Per David Teel of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, if Notre Dame plays an ACC schedule this year, it will be eligible to play in the ACC Championship Game.
Famously independent program Notre Dame football winning a conference championship would be an appropriately bizarre outcome for the year 2020.