Miami football could see Notre Dame join ACC in next few years

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 11. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 11. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

The expansion of the College Football Playoff could eventually force Notre Dame to make a decision to join the ACC. Earlier this week a committee was formed to examine an expansion of the CFP to 12 teams from the previous four who earn berths. The Miami football team and the ACC could benefit from the new format.

The new CFP format is proposing the top six conference champions earn bids. The top four conference titlists would earn the highest seeds in the CFP. Notre Dame would have to enter any 12 team CFP as no higher than the fifth seed. Could the new CFP format finally be the push Notre Dame needs to join the ACC as a full member?

For now, the Fighting Irish is unlikely to join the ACC. Once the playoff is expanded having to win four games to win a National Championship while other teams need to win three after playing in their conference title games could make Notre Dame reevaluate continuing to play football as an independent.

If Notre Dame joined the ACC it would likely be in Atlantic Division where they play in baseball. The ACC would be up to 15 teams for football with eight in the Atlantic Division and seven in the Coastal where the Miami football team plays. Notre Dame takes the place of Syracuse in the Atlantic for baseball.

"Notre Dame: Like basically everyone, Notre Dame has a better chance at the playoff. So it’s definitely not all bad for the Fighting Irish. However, because they operate as an independent, they can never finish in the top four (guaranteed to conference champions) and avoid the play-in game.That means, each and every year Notre Dame qualifies, it must win four straight games (16 total) to become national champions. And you thought the Fighting Irish had problems lately in the CFP (outscored 61-17 in their last two appearances)?Will this caveat be enough to push Notre Dame into the ACC? Its media rights contract is structured so that, if it decides to join a conference at any point before 2036, it must be the ACC. While Notre Dame has more access in a 12-team field, its road to a national championship just got a lot tougher.Even though athletic director Jack Swarbrick admits the Irish playing that additional game is more fair due to it not being forced to play in and win a conference championship game, it still puts his program at a disadvantage if it is otherwise deserving enough to be ranked in the top four.“I look forward to never hearing again that we played one less game or never played a conference championship,” said Swarbrick, whose program plays only 12 regular-season games before going to the postseason.”"

The above analysis and comment from Swarbrick came from the CBS Sports articleCollege Football Playoff 12-team expansion: SEC, Group of Five among winners; Rose Bowl tops losers. The article subheading was “Plus, Notre Dame has plenty to celebrate and question about this potential move.”

Notre Dame joining the ACC for football would drastically alter the conference landscape. The Fighting Irish being added to the Atlantic Division would further divide the division. With Clemson and Notre Dame, the Atlantic would be much tougher. It would also change schedules in the ACC. The Miami football team would benefit.

The Coastal would remain at six division games per team in a round-robin. Atlantic Division teams would play seven division games. The ACC would likely have to play a nine-game conference schedule. During the 2020 COVID-19 schedule, the ACC planned a 10-game conference schedule for the first time.

The Miami football team played nine conference games in 2020. Hurricanes games against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest were canceled with Duke added to the schedule. Notre Dame currently plays five games against ACC opponents. A nine-game ACC schedule would mean Notre Dame has seven sure games each season.

The seven ACC Coastal teams would play the Irish in a rotating schedule as the non-annual crossover rivalries currently do. Notre Dame would likely not have a crossover game as the odd team out in a 15-team conference. Don’t expect Notre Dame to join the ACC for football in the near future.