Notes from the Geetar: Have Team, Will Travel

el kabong with geetar

The B1G’s announcement of a conference-only 2020 is the first domino in what stands to be a true cascade. COVID-19 has everyone scrambling to still have a season while keeping everything as safe as possible, and Notre Dame is not an exception.

So far, all we know is the game against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field will not happen in 2020 (although I’m glad to see both sides are considering it a postponement). Reports are circulating the ACC will follow the B1G’s lead but will consider ND’s dates with conference teams to be included.

We know ND will have to scramble a little more than the average bear given their independent status in football. But even that is an unknown, because there isn’t any word on whether ND would have to abide by an ACC edict saying conference only. I imagine schools like Navy and Western Michigan will want to play as many games as possible and will still want their ND dates. I can also imagine, though, the ACC saying this is being done for safety, and if ND isn’t going to comply, they’re not safe enough to include.

What’s a Team to Do?

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s pretend a CFB season happens in the first place, everyone goes to conference-only scheduling, and the ACC considers the ND dates to be conference games but don’t restrict the Irish to only those games. This gives us:

09/05 open
09/12 open
09/19 open
09/26 at Wake Forest
10/03 open
10/10 open
10/17 at Pittsburgh
10/24 BYE
10/31 Duke
11/07 Clemson
11/14 at Georgia Tech
11/21 Louisville
11/28 open

Fortuitous this was the year we had six ACC dates, no?

ND now has two possibilities to fill its gaps. First, they could schedule the other independents. With five teams available and completely flexible, this could get us back to an 11-game slate pretty easily. Problem is, with the exception of BYU, it’s a pretty grim slate. I don’t think games against Liberty or UMass are going to excite anyone. Army barely moves the needle due to their tradition with ND.

The other possibility is picking up more ACC games. If the ACC considers Notre Dame games still on, six of its teams will end up playing one more game than their conference brethren, which will skew the standings. So why not try and get a couple more teams to balance things out? A team like Florida State, which will lose its annual game vs Florida in this scenario, probably would want a high-profile opponent at season’s end to replace them. Likewise, VaTech and Miami are losing two B1G dates in September, and ND is the perfect candidate to fill that dance card.

Let’s Build a Schedule

Matching up open dates with ND’s open dates, balance between the Atlantic & Coastal divisions, and tossing in games hosting Army (replace one service academy with another) and at BYU (they’ve been complaining we owe them a date anyway) gives us:

09/05 Army
09/12 at Virginia Tech (replacing PSU that week)
09/19 Miami (replacing at Michigan State the next week)
09/26 at Wake Forest
10/03 at BYU
10/10 Syracuse (they have an open date)
10/17 at Pittsburgh
10/24 BYE
10/31 Duke
11/07 Clemson
11/14 at Georgia Tech
11/21 Louisville
11/28 at Florida State (replacing Florida that week)

(I know, there’s no BC on there. Not because I don’t care about them (which I don’t), but their only free dates would be 9/12, 19 & 26, and those dates are filled.)

I believe there’s a lot to like here. There are six home games and six away for those who have sought more balance. We’ve swapped out some less interesting opponents for more interesting ones (although I hope the Arkansas game comes back in the future). And assuming there’s some kind of treatment for this thing in a couple months, we can go to Florida for Thanksgiving.

Come at me.

Any thoughts on ND’s 2020 schedule? Comment below or join the discussion on Rock’s House or Cartier Field.

11 thoughts on “Notes from the Geetar: Have Team, Will Travel

  1. I really like it Mike! Adding Miami and FSU gets my blood boiling. Thinking about the last time ND played these two teams at their place. That annoying gold U chain and the bogus PI call vs FSU!! Anyway, good schedule Mike and you just saved Jack a lot of work!

    • I did a similar exercise yesterday for an ACC only slate. This assumes everyone takes a conference only approach and the ACC would not want ND to break that conference only model.

      Sep 5: Virginia, VA Tech, NC, FL ST, Miami

      Sep 12: NC St, BC, NC, VA Tech, Miami, Virginia, FL St

      Sep 19: no ACC in-conference games scheduled. Fully open for ACC teams

      Oct 3: might turn into a Bye Week. ACC has full in conference slate.

      Oct 10: Virginia or Syracuse

      Oct 24 (prior bye): NC State

      Nov 28: might turn into a Bye Week. ACC has full conference slate.

      We could be stuck with only 11 games. However, we might be able to schedule another independent on Nov 28 given no ACC games are envisioned after this date.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        If everyone goes to conference-only, some ACC teams who play geographic rivals like Florida State and Kentucky (already playing GaTech) on Nov 28 would free up.

  2. MIke’s schedule makes sense from a perspective of ACC loyalties.

    If we consider it from a team health perspective, the ACC has a number of teams in states that report meaningful rates of infection. While the Irish reported that no players tested positive in the most assessment, the same does not hold true for Clemson. (Any surprise that some Clemson players have trouble passing a test?) As the summer continues it will be interesting to see what patterns of infection occur as they relate to the southern Irish opposition.

    I wonder what potential there is for ND to seek a year or two football membership in the Big Ten (Consider that we already have the hockey affiliation). Its probably safe to say that we all would like another crack at Michigan and such membership could provide opportunity to develop and renew other rivalries. Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State anyone?

  3. The southern states will be hot spots of infection. The Big 10 won’t let us have a two year membership. The safest option is to play Ball State 12 times. We might have a shot at going undefeated.

  4. Mike, if you are looking for article ideas, maybe an article about the possibility of the NCAA calling the entire 2020 season a wash and using the year off to fix some of the NCAA’s college football issues, e.g., concussions, paying players, parity vs. super conference domination, recruiting, etc. etc.

  5. The movement to play conference only games doesn’t make sense particularly because of the wide spread geographic expansion that has went over the last decade. It would seem to me that at a minimum the Power 5 and ND could’ve agreed to universal COVID procedures and at least played each other. Since that apparently isn’t happening, the only option is to move to a college playoff expansion for this season. Play 9 game schedules, conf championships and then select the Top 8 teams. Each conference champion gets in + 3 at large. This should lead to long term expansion, but I’ll take it for 1 season as a trial.

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