The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are entering a new era for their college football program where they will be more closely tied to a conference than at any other point in their history. Notre Dame will being playing five games against the ACC every season in 2014, with their first game expected to be a trip to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles (which should be a fantastic showdown).
However, the scheduling contract with the ACC will have consequences for some of Notre Dame’s previously scheduled obligations. After a long history as a fully independent football program, ND will have to suffer the pinch of conference scheduling (though only slightly) and the Irish are trying to alleviate that by backing out of their trip to Tempe to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in 2014.
That game would be a follow-up to the non-conference tilt that Notre Dame and Arizona State are slated for next season when they square off October 5 in Cowboys Stadium. It could be a signature win for an ASU program looking to break through in 2013 and having Notre Dame in Sun Devils Stadium the year after would be a huge boost to their non-conference schedule in 2014. For Notre Dame, it’s just another game against a team they have no real history with on a schedule filled with rivalries they are trying to protect.
The Irish have already contacted Arizona State to try getting out of their trip to the desert, but the Sun Devils aren’t going to let a marquee game like that just walk out the door. According to a statement released by the school:
“As far as Arizona State University is concerned we still have a valid contract with the University of Notre Dame to play football in 2014. We look forward to hosting them at Sun Devil Stadium.”
At the end of the day, Notre Dame will likely have to pay a handsome fee as restitution for the lost revenue the school expected to bring in from hosting Notre Dame. It’s highly unlikely that the Sun Devils will just let Notre Dame walk away from their contract, so it will be down to the universities to bargain some kind of compromise.
For Arizona State, the loss of Notre Dame on the schedule could be a setback for the program as they try and establish themselves as an elite football power. Getting a nice stack of cash and a tune-up game in exchange, however, could be a better deal for the Sun Devils as Todd Graham gets them focused on Rose Bowl Game berths rather than early non-conference glory.
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