Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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16 AUGUST 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL I n the battle of COVID-19 versus college athletics that has gone on for four-plus months, the former remains a stream roller with a brick on the gas pedal, bowling over the latter as if it's the 0-16 Detroit Lions of 2008. Commissioners and athletics direc- tors are in bail technique, and some have made their latest concession a shortened football season. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have truncated their seasons to conference-only sched- ules, therein wiping out 84 non- conference games, including Notre Dame's meeting with Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, originally scheduled for Oct. 3, as well as annual meet- ings with Stanford (Oct. 10) and USC (Nov. 28). With the Pac-12 decision, the Notre Dame-USC series takes its first hia- tus since 1945. Allow this context to assist in highlighting the historical magnitude of it. The last time the Fighting Irish and Trojans didn't play, the last four U.S. Presidents were not yet born, the NBA had not been formed and Notre Dame's primary method of travel for road games was a train. Notre Dame is left with nine games on its schedule, and the missing three are being treated as pure cancella- tions. The Wisconsin series will not simply be moved back a year. "We look forward to playing Wis- consin at Soldier Field in 2021, and [Badgers athletics director] Barry Al- varez and I are committed to sched- uling a game at Lambeau Field in the future," Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. Wisconsin's non-conference sched- ule is full through 2025. Any poten- tial rescheduled game seems unlikely to come before then. But sorting that out is for another pandemic-free time. The matter at hand is shaping a schedule for a season that, six weeks away from kickoff, had no clear structure or abundant assurances it will even be played. WHERE DOES NOTRE DAME GO? It's first important to debunk a misguided trope: Notre Dame's in- dependence won't make the entire schedule a sunk cost. The Irish are saved from the ignominy and worst- case scenario of filling their schedule with home-and-homes against lowly independents like Connecticut and New Mexico State if the rest of the Power Five and Football Bowl Sub- division (FBS) follow the Big Ten's lead. There is a savior, waiting with a limo door open. ACC commissioner John Swofford has previously said a conference-only model for his league would include Notre Dame, if the Irish want in. The league's decision will be made at the end of July. Notre Dame already has six games against ACC teams sched- uled in 2020 as part of the agreement between the two that runs through OFF SCHEDULE Notre Dame loses three marquee games, but has replacement options For the first time since 1945, Notre Dame and USC will not play each other in football after the Pac-12 announced it is going to a conference-only schedule. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS

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