“We hope to have been a great member of the conference,” said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame`s sporting director, during a video meeting with reporters this week. “We certainly enjoyed being members of the conference and having the opportunities it offers. It was a very positive experience. “I look closely at the national data every morning and, although there are still very important crisis outbreaks, the trends have certainly improved,” he said. “The problem is that we`re trying to navigate something that`s not another sports team, and it`s back to campus and campus life. It`s fundamentally different. Next week, there will be 10,000 more students. Conscientious students will do everything they can to protect the university safely and for themselves, but it`s another dynamic if you`re in such a living environment. And with a second victory over the mighty Clemson on December 19 in the Conference game, the undefeated Fighting Irish were brandishing for the first time in the history of season 114 of the program a League trophy on these famous golden helmets. The programs of our non-football ladies had entered the Big East since 1995, but as the conference lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC and added personalities such as Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple, Notre Dame clearly wanted to be part of a conference with more familiar faces. When Notre Dame was a member of the CCA in 2012, Swarbrick said the agreement would allow the Irish to “maintain our historic independence in football.” The reorientation had put the very existence of Our Lady in precarious conditions.
The ACC has welcomed the Irish as full members in all other sports and has guaranteed Notre Dame five or six football games a year. The conference allowed the university to preserve the identity of the football it has established and cultivated for more than a century. There are far too many cases where perhaps the most prestigious program in college football resists the temptations of attending a conference. In the early 1900s, Notre Dame was excluded from the original Big Ten (at the time of the Western Conference), supposedly because of anti-Catholic sentiments of Michigan coach Fielding Yost. Since then, Notre Dame has refused the opening to participate in a football conference and in 1999 made statements like that of the school`s president, Edward Malloy: “Our Lady has a central identity and, basically, these characteristics are: Catholic, private, independent.