Wednesday, June 16

How Notre Dame Fits in a 12-Team College Football Playoff

Notre Dame has made two college football playoff appearances in the past seven years. How much would you benefit from the expansion of the playoff field?

The college football Playoffs committee released a proposal Thursday for a 12-team format to be considered later this month. The four-team CFP won’t change for at least the next two seasons, but some wrinkles in the new planned playoff would affect the Irish.

“We can’t qualify for a goodbye. It’s limited to the top four ranked champions,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said on the College Football Playoff teleconference. “I hope I never know again about how we play one game less or don’t have a conference championship.”

BENDER: Why we love (and hate) the idea of ​​a 12-team CFP

The second part of that quote is full of sarcasm. Notre Dame returns to independent status in 2021, and its role in a potential 12-team playoff is polarizing as usual.

“You needed to keep the broader interest of the game in mind, and we all understand that,” said Swarbrick, who is a member of the subcommittee that wrote the expansion proposal. “From my perspective, it was an appropriate trade-off to get a model that I thought was the right fit for college football.”

But is it suitable for the Irish? Sporting News breaks down the pros and cons of a 12-team setup for them:

Pros: more playoff chances

The Irish are 33-5 over the past three seasons with Brian Kelly, who has the program on firm ground.

That’s the fourth-best record in the FBS behind Clemson (39-3), Alabama (38-3) and Ohio State State (33-3) since 2018. There is a gap between the Big Three and everyone else except the Irish would be a regular playoff player in a 12-team setup.

MORE: Five Best Bets to Crash the CFP in 2021

“I think it’s helpful for us to say, ‘Look, Alabama jeopardized its position in its title game or Oklahoma jeopardized its position in its conference title game. We’re doing the same in the first round.’ “. “Swarbrick said.” We’re on par in that regard, as well as enjoying a potential 1-4 seed. “

Looking back over the past seven seasons, Notre Dame would have made four CFP appearances in a 12-team model. That would suggest that Notre Dame could still maintain its independent status, and that great contract with NBC, and still make it to the CFP on a regular basis without going through a conference championship game.

Is that good enough?

Cons: Harder path to a title

Notre Dame has not won a national championship since 1988, one of the most pronounced droughts among blue-blooded FBS programs.

The downside to not having a goodbye in the first round is that it would take four wins to win a national championship. Notre Dame has been undefeated in the regular season three times with Kelly.

The Irish were the No. 4 seed in last year’s four-team playoffs. Using the 12-team proposal metric, Notre Dame would have been the No. 7 seed last season. That means the Irish would have had a first-round showdown with Georgia before a second-round showdown with Clemson.

Will Notre Dame rejoin a conference?

Is a 12-team college football playoff the push that puts Notre Dame in a Power 5 conference forever?

The Irish took advantage of their one-year ACC tour, made necessary by the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 college football season. Notre Dame made it to the ACC championship game and split its two games with Clemson, and that was good enough to get to the CFP.

Now, look at the 2021 calendar:

  • Opponents of the ACC: at Florida State, at Virginia Tech, against North Carolina, at Virginia, against Georgia Tech
  • Other opponents: vs. Toledo, vs. Purdue, vs. Wisconsin *, vs. Cincinnati, vs. USC, vs. Navy, at Stanford

* At Soldier Field, Chicago

The only ACC opponent ranked in SN’s preseason Top 25 is North Carolina. The other ranked opponents are Wisconsin, Cincinnati and USC.

Would a 12-team playoff affect Notre Dame’s deal with the ACC? Or would it prompt the university to consider joining the conference full time? That question will be answered in time, but Swarbrick insists this is the right plan for the Irish.

“Although we do not play in a conference, I recognize the importance of strong conferences and providing the opportunity for [Group of 5]”Swarbrick said.” We wanted to do that. “

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