Miami Reportedly Open To Playing Notre Dame In 2020
It’s not Notre Dame versus USC, but as far as auxiliary rivalries go, Miami versus Notre Dame is loaded with history. And adding it to the 2020 slate would salvage some of the intrigue lost with the Trojans absent from Notre Dame’s schedule for the first time since 1945.
Miami and Notre Dame have played 27 times, most recently in 2017, in a rivalry packed with memorable moments. The series’ sobriquet “Catholics vs. Convicts” is recognizable to many college football fans. The 2017 game pitted two teams with top-10 rankings against each other, stakes not seen in this series since the 1980s. Tales of past marquee matchups live on in fandom of both schools.
A 28th meeting could be in play sooner than its next scheduled date of 2024. According to a Miami Herald report, the Hurricanes would be open to playing the Fighting Irish this year as a replacement for its three games eliminated due to the Big Ten and Pac-12’s decisions to hold conference-only seasons.
“We will work with the ACC on creating the best schedules possible for our programs,” Miami athletics director Blake James told The Miami Herald Saturday. “If the opportunity for a match up with ND is presented, we would be thrilled to have that game added to our 2020 schedule.”
The Big Ten’s decision wiped out Notre Dame’s Oct. 3 meeting with Wisconsin, and the Pac-12’s move deleted Stanford’s Oct. 10 game in South Bend and Notre Dame’s Nov. 28 game at USC. Miami also lost a Sept. 26 game at Michigan State.
ACC commissioner John Swofford has said Notre Dame will be included in his league’s plans if it goes to a conference-only season. Notre Dame has an agreement with the ACC to play an average of five games per year against its teams through 2037.
Notre Dame has six games against ACC teams on its 2020 schedule: Wake Forest, Pitt, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville. Its first three games are against teams from conferences that have not made decisions on shortening seasons: Sept. 5 at Navy (American), Sept. 12 versus Arkansas (SEC) and Sept. 19 versus Western Michigan (MAC). SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, though, told ESPN his concern level around an on-time start to the year is “high to very high.”
If those three leagues and the ACC go conference-only, Notre Dame would presumably need three or four more ACC opponents. And in a year where fan attendance will be limited at best, made-for-TV matchups become even more important.
The Hurricanes and Irish present the most compelling not-currently-scheduled matchup within an ACC conference-only situation. It would be a ratings magnet, even if both aren’t in the top 10 like they were in 2017 and Miami is coming off a 6-7 season. The 2017 iteration of the series was placed in a primetime slot. Miami won 41-8.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Miami 18-8-1. They have played twice since Notre Dame struck the agreement with the ACC in 2014 and are scheduled to play in 2024 in South Bend and 2025 in Miami.
A decision from the ACC on its plans for this season is still a couple weeks away, the league said in a statement Friday.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and administrators remains the ACC’s top priority,” Swofford said in the statement. “As we continue to work on the best possible path forward for the return of competition, we will do so in a way that appropriately coincides with the universities’ academic missions.
“Over the last few months, our conference has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season. The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.”
As it stands now, Notre Dame and Miami do not have any common openings. Miami has ACC games scheduled the week of Oct. 3, Oct. 10 and Nov. 28, the newly vacant weekends on Notre Dame’s schedule. Miami’s scheduled off week is Oct. 17, while Notre Dame’s is Oct. 24. Each has an ACC game on the other’s idle week. Both have non-ACC games scheduled for the first three weeks of the season.
A benefit of conference-only schedules, though, is flexibility to adjust in-season in case coronavirus-related stoppages are necessary. The Pac-12 is entirely remaking its schedule, and the ACC may need to do the same if it is absorbing Notre Dame.
One other consideration in reworking schedules is Notre Dame’s TV deal with NBC, which televises seven Irish games per year. It held the rights to this year’s Stanford and Wisconsin games and is scheduled to broadcast three of the six ACC games on the Irish’s schedule.
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