On September 12, 2012, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick officially announced a deal had been struck between the Fighting Irish and the Atlantic Coast Conference, strengthening the ACC while simultaneously providing ND one of the more unique schedules in America. In addition to yearly rivals such as USC, Michigan State and Navy, Notre Dame will play five ACC conference members beginning in 2014. Plus, with Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series – which will see the Fighting Irish travel from Dallas to Dublin – nearly every corner of America (and even shades of Europe) will be within ND’s grasp.
While Notre Dame is still a full calendar year away from kicking off its ACC slate, the early returns of the agreement are encouraging. ACC members were seen laughing and smiling at this year’s spring ACC meetings in Florida, with the Orlando Sentinel reporting the “euphoria” was due to the “presence of one particular school: Notre Dame.” Clemson’s athletic director Dan Radakovich called the deal between Notre Dame and the ACC “perfect,” while Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher boasted of the Seminoles’ future schedule.
“Next year, you’re going to have Oklahoma State, Florida and Notre Dame. Nobody will have a greater out-of-conference schedule than we will.”
Notre Dame looking forward to more exposure in the South
The appreciative mood wasn’t one-sided. Notre Dame is likely licking its chops at the opportunity to expose its brand to the South, which has dominated the collegiate landscape. Seven consecutive national championships, four Heisman Trophies in a span of six years and 61% of America’s top high school talent residing below the Mason-Dixon Line spells 21st Century dynasty. Notre Dame has made strides to improve its Southern outreach, with Brian Kelly recruiting nearly four times as many Southern prospects as the Big Ten. Still, the outcome of the BCS National Title game against the Crimson Tide was enough to see how much more work needs to be done.
Renewed and potentially new rivalries for Notre Dame
One of the most appealing aspects of Notre Dame and the ACC’s new alignment involves new rivalries. While Clemson and Notre Dame have only played one another twice, ND’s 2015 road trip to Death Valley is already considered one of the most difficult tickets to obtain. How wild will Blacksburg, Virginia, be when Notre Dame steps onto the field against Virginia Tech for the first ever meeting between the two storied programs? Given Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher’s comments about the Seminoles’ 2014 schedule, it appears Tallahassee has already begun its countdown for Notre Dame’s arrival.
Given Notre Dame’s new affiliation with the ACC, it’s time to get to know the neighbors. Below is a table listing Notre Dame’s all-time record against every current and future ACC member.
|Notre Dame’s Historical Performance Against the ACC|
|Opponent||All-Time (W-L-T)||First Played||Last Played|
Perhaps the most striking feature involves how few times Notre Dame has faced some ACC institutions. Out of 14 ACC conference members, Notre Dame has played half of the conference less than five times. ND’s lone contest against NC State was only ten years ago, and the two matches against Wake Forest were within the past two seasons. Surprisingly, Notre Dame has never squared off against Virginia Tech or Louisville.
Though Notre Dame has strong histories with some ACC members – notably Miami, Boston College, Pitt and Georgia Tech – overall fresh rivalries are ripe for the making. Given the excitement from ACC members and the opportunity for Notre Dame to gain a foot in the door of Southern talent, it appears great football is on the horizon.
Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles as well as co-founded a nationally-featured non-profit organization. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24 hours a day. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.