Is The Shillelagh Game In Trouble?

It was announced yesterday that Notre Dame will move from the Big East to the ACC in all sports except for football and hockey. As per usual, ND has kept their football entity separate because, you know, it's such a national brand.

But there was something more significant in the announcement -- the Domers have committed to play five ACC schools per year in football. That's a big deal, actually. This year, for example, the Irish play no more than three schools from any one conference, with the three being the Big Ten (Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State). Playing five "conference games" (which is effectively what they are, even if they won't be reflected in the ACC standings) eats up a lot of real estate in ND's schedule.

Why am I bringing this up? Because Purdue and Notre Dame have played every year since the '40s (even though it's not a rivalry, remember) and I think that could be in danger.

Morgan Burke was quoted yesterday as saying it "only make sense" that Purdue and ND will continue their regular meetings, but I'm not sure it's something that Morgan can just hang back and assume will happen. It might take some effort/lobbying on his part.

Consider that Notre Dame AD Swarbrick said the Domers are committed to playing USC, Stanford and Navy every season. They also currently face Michigan and Michigan State on a regular basis, and it's fair to say that at least the game vs. Michigan is a marquee matchup on a more national level. If you assume those five games remain and then you add in five ACC games, Notre Dame is down to two slots left. They already have some agreements in place, such as Miami this year in Chicago and a home and home with Oklahoma starting this season, and while I'm too lazy to research their ongoing committments in this regard, it's safe to say Army and others might be already on the schedule in upcoming seasons.

The point is, the 12 game slots are more quickly and easily filled now. You might be thinking you remember reading that Purdue and ND are committed to play through early next decade, and you'd be partially right. But the ever-thorough Mike Carmin of the J&C reported the following:

The schools have an agreement to play annually through 2021, but only the 2013 and 2014 games have signed contracts.

According to information provided to the Journal & Courier through a public records request, the contract for the 2015 game hasn’t been signed and a “letter agreement” exists for the 2016 and 2017 matchups.

I find this interesting and telling. There are also reports that ND is already floating the fact that some of their regular opponents are going to need to get used to the idea of, for example, a two years on, two years off arrangement.

While Purdue and ND have a longstanding history of playing each other regularly, I think this may be the beginning of the end of having ND automatically on the schedule every year. From what Carmin reported, it looks like it would be tough for ND to get out of the games through 2014, but not difficult at all after that. I also think it would be possible for ND to negotiate with Burke and offer future guaranteed matchups (though not annually) in exchange for letting them out of those contracted 2013 and 2014 games. The point? This "rivalry" could dissipate faster than you think.

It also does bring me to a question: do you care? Vote in the poll to the right and let us know your thoughts on this in the comments.

Purdue-EMU Predictorama

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