Notre Dame reaches into the Pac-12 and Big Ten frequently when putting together its schedules, leaving many to wonder how Wednesday's announced partnership between the two conferences could affect the Fighting Irish's future schedules. Notre Dame has maintained long-standing rivalries with USC and Stanford, among others, and the guaranteed Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup, beginning in 2017, cuts down on the freedom teams from each conference have when creating schedules.
But not to worry, says Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. As discussions about the partnership unfolded, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany kept Notre Dame "somewhat" in the loop, and the deal shouldn't change much for the Irish. Pat Forde explains:
A more likely scenario than dropping Notre Dame is a reduction in conference games from nine to eight. Thus, the Big Ten vs. Pac-12 game would be a substitute for that league game on the schedule, which means Notre Dame’s spot would not have to be sacrificed in favor of a “guaranteed” home game against a lesser opponent.
The partnership likely creates more of a desire for Pac-12 and Big Ten teams to schedule a lesser opponent, having been "forced" into big matchups within the framework of the deal. Though the Big Ten will likely allow for four non-conference games -- and eight conference matchups -- the Pac-12 has maintained it will stay at nine, at least for now. It remains to be seen whether the Pac-12's stance will change as 2017 approaches, though.