The trendy thing to do right now for College Football head coaches is complain about Notre Dame not being part of a conference and playing one game less than the rest.
Dabo Swinney of Clemson spoke about the 13-game issue, suggesting that if the Fighting Irish don’t join a conference, they should play 13 regular season games and then even themselves up with the other conferences and the schools that go on to play in conference championship games.
Gary Pinkel of Missouri spoke about the need to see Notre Dame join a conference or be left out of the CFP discussion. They do have a point, but it does sound a little bit like frustration and jealousy speaking.
Notre Dame is like a conference on its own. That’s the way the program was treated in the formation of the College Football Playoffs and its selection guidelines. It’s independent with a small affiliation to the ACC which runs through the 2025 season, coincidentally at the same time the College Football Playoff will be entering its second contract.
Geographically Notre Dame make more sense in the Big Ten, but unlike its basketball program and their other athletic departments, the football brand is a different story. Maybe it would even be in Notre Dame’s best interest to finally join a conference, making it easier for them when it comes to playoff selections if it comes down to them or someone else with a similar record, but right now they’re not too keen on joining anyone.
Nine of the teams Notre Dame play in 2015 are from the Power 5 conferences. The others are UMass, Temple and Navy.