That's what the headline reads to a FoxSports.com article featuring an interview with Irish Head Coach Brian Kelly: Notre Dame's ACC ties put football in difficult spot. But is that really true?
We all know the deal by now: Notre Dame agrees to let the ACC schedule five of its games every year* in return for access to ACC bowls and a home for all other sports (except ice hockey). That means that Irish football has less independence than it has ever had - a "mere" seven games per year that Notre Dame can schedule as it wishes. By Kelly's own admission, three non-ACC games are "etched in stone": Navy, Stanford and USC. That means that Notre Dame must somehow get by with only four variable games every year. The horrors!
But wait, something sounds familiar here... isn't that the exact same number of games that Virginia Tech has to play with now that the ACC has settled on an eight-game conference schedule? Why, yes, it IS the same! Welcome to our world, Notre Dame!
To be fair to Kelly, I don't think he meant what the FoxSports article is implying here. The coach freely admits that the ACC scheduling agreement was "absolutely crucial" for the overall good of the Notre Dame athletic department. So then, why would he say that it puts them in a difficult spot?
In the context he is being asked about the end of the long-time annual rivalries with Michigan State and Michigan. Coach Kelly is essentially apologizing to a Midwestern audience for not being able to continue these series. However, the truth of the matter is that those Big Ten teams - with their nine-game conference schedules and their dogmatic insistence on seven home games per year - are as much to blame as Notre Dame is for bringing about and end to those rivalries (at least on an annual basis).
Look, I get that Notre Dame will need some time to adjust to what amounts to an eight-game conference schedule - something that Virginia Tech has been working with for many years now. I realize this statement by the Irish HC may cause some blowback among certain ACC fan bases, but IMO they just need some time to adjust to their new reality.
That Notre Dame is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
* Notre Dame will actually be playing 4 games against ACC teams in 2014, and 6 games in 2015. Finally the Irish will settle into 5 games per year starting in 2016 and going forward (unless they join all-in, of course).