Notre Dame football remains one of the most unique collegiate programs in America. Independent of a conference, the logistics of being backed by NBC have kept the program afloat despite a lack of serious winning. If they ever were to join a conference, their former AD thinks the ACC would be a perfect fit.
In an interview with Jerry Ratcliffe of the Daily Progress, former Notre Dame AD Gene Corrigan said that it would be very hard for the program to ever join a conference, but if they did go that route, the Atlantic Coast Conference makes sense.
“They would be great in the ACC,” he said. “They’re much more like Duke, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, schools like that, than they are any other conference. They’re about the same size, too.”
Variety in programs — “preppy sports” — would be appealing to Notre Dame. The ACC has vast athletic programs, ranging from football to Olympic-type sports. Equally important to most in South Bend, the high Notre Dame academic standards match up for most of the ACC schools.
“The ACC would be great for Notre Dame, but it’s hard for them to let go of the football thing,” Corrigan said. “Historically it’s tough to do something like that, but if they do, I think they know this is where they would go. They would be perfect in the ACC. This is who they are.”
Considering Corrigan’s background — Virgina AD and ACC Commissioner in addition to Notre Dame AD stint — the infatuation with marrying his past isn’t surprising. There was a time where Corrigan tried to bring Notre Dame closer to the ACC by attempting to tilt their heavily national schedule to include up to six ACC opponents a season.
Obviously, the idea didn’t work. Corrigan also attempted to lure Penn State to the ACC during his time there, only to watch them land in the Big 10. Many AD’s have made the push for Notre Dame to join a conference — the Big 10, Big 12, and Big East most recently — but none have been successful.
It’s easy to imagine a time in the future when Notre Dame jumps ship from independent to conference member, but that time hasn’t arrived yet. When it does, the college football world will be spun like a top.
Corrigan may be right about the fit, but the likelihood is slim that the Fightin Irish would give up games with USC and Michigan to play road games at NC State and Virginia every October.