Is Notre Dame football getting a raw deal with ACC partnership?

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Notre Dame’s decision to leave the Big East as it was crumbling led to a new deal with the ACC that would provide a conference home for all sports except football and ice hockey. As far as Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is concerned, the Irish may be getting the short end of the stick of the deal compared to the rest of the athletic programs in South Bend.

“Football had to give up a little bit, relative to flexibility and scheduling by taking on with the ACC,” Kelly told Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports in a recent podcast interview. “Therefore, it’s put us in a very difficult situation scheduling and unfortunately it’s taken some of the schools like a Michigan and Michigan State, off our schedule. Because we’re going to keep Navy, we’re going to keep Stanford and we’re going to keep USC. Those three schools are not coming off and those are etched in stone. So now, add your ACC schools with those three schools and you’re really limited as to where you can go.”

Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement with the ACC requires the Irish to play as many as five ACC opponents each season, with Notre Dame rotating through the conference on a yearly basis to allow every school to get a chance to have Notre Dame on the schedule. The more important part of the deal for Notre Dame is the ability to retain its football independence, which allows for a separate television deal (with NBC) and has been of significant value to the university for years.

As a result of the scheduling agreement with the ACC, Notre Dame will play five games against ACC opponents each season in addition to the previously referenced match-ups with traditional rivals Navy, Stanford and USC. That helps keep the Irish playing west coast teams every season and ensures a steady east coast presence as well. Although Notre Dame resides in the thick of the Big Ten and the midwest, the importance of getting exposure coast to coast is not to be overlooked for recruiting and media rights negotiations in the future. If that means football, the most visible and noteworthy program in the athletic department needs to give a little for the benefit of the rest of the university and department, that is just what has to happen. Kelly understands that.

“All I can do is voice my – as a football coach, and especially one that’s been in the Midwest, I love the ability to play Michigan and Michigan State and the tradition of it, but the reality of it is for our athletic department to enter into the agreement with the ACC we have to give up a little bit from a football perspective relative to scheduling,” Kelly told Feldman. “And to make our athletic department whole, relative to soccer and lacrosse and basketball, that ACC agreement was absolutely crucial for our athletic teams.”

So is Notre Dame football getting the raw deal here? Hardly. The Irish can take advantage of the ACC’s bowl tie-ins under certain circumstances and will benefit by having that exposure in the east and southeast in addition to the west coast and any other national opponents Notre Dame ends up scheduling. Notre Dame has always attempted to schedule nationally and that is not going to change. In fact, in an era where some conferences have increased the number of conference games or scheduling commitments, having the security of the ACC scheduling arrangement actually helps Notre Dame move into this new era with a bit more ease and less stress on having to schedule games against quality opponents. With five guaranteed games against the ACC and commitments to play Stanford and USC, Notre Dame is in much better shape than another independent program (BYU) is dealing with right now. And with Notre Dame being formally recognized as an opponent equal to a power conference opponent to satisfy non-conference scheduling requirements, the Irish remain in a uniquely position in the new college football era.

You can listen to the full podcast conversation between Kelly and Feldman on FOXSports.com.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

LSU lands commitment from nation’s No. 1 cornerback

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LSU rarely loses a player it wants out of Louisiana. Now add in that said player isn’t just from Louisiana, but lives in Baton Rouge. Now add in that he’s regarded as the No. 1 player at his position. Yeah, this kid was never going anywhere else.

Derek Stingley, Jr., committed to LSU on Wednesday, beating out Texas and Florida.

Rivals ranks Stingley as the No. 1 corner and No. 1 overall player in its 2019 rankings. Stingley stands as the No. 1 corner and the No. 8 overall player on the 247Sports ratings. ESPN is more bullish on Stingley, slotting him as just the No. 3 cornerback and the No. 67 overall player. (247Sports lists Lewis Center, Ohio, defensive end Zach Harrison as its No. 1 overall player, while ESPN favors Westlake Village, Calif., defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.)

Stingley was previously committed to LSU, but de-committed to take his time and make an informed decision. All that information led him to the exact same conclusion.

“There are a lot of reasons I love LSU, but the main thing is coach Corey Raymond. We have built a strong relationship over a long period of time. We have really gotten to know each other. I am relaxed around him, we can talk about anything and I know he will be there for me at any time. Our connection is what really pushed LSU to the top,” he told Rivals. “This commitment is completely different. I took my time. I put more time into it and really looked at other schools. I got caught up in the hype before and I did not know anything about recruiting or other schools. I know all I need to know now and LSU is the school for me. I am done now and I will not visit any other schools.”

LSU’s 13-man class is rated No. 10 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Vanderbilt transfer DL Rutger Reitmaier receives all-clear from NCAA

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Vanderbilt got some good news Wednesday when the NCAA approved transfer Rutger Reitmaier to compete this fall.

The Nashville native signed with Oregon out of high school in 2017 but did not compete for the Ducks. He left the team after spring practice, sat out the 2017 season and enrolled at Vanderbilt in January.

“Adding Rutger to our roster is huge,” head coach Derek Mason told Vanderbilt’s official site. “He adds depth, athleticism and will be a key piece for us. I’m excited about what an impactful player he is, and it’s great to add another quality player from Nashville.”

A 4-star recruit, Reitmaier was recruited by the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina, but favored Vanderbilt when leaving Oregon.

“Vanderbilt was the first school I considered after deciding to leave Oregon,” he said. “It was one of my top-three schools during my initial recruitment in high school. Defense wins championships, so having a head coach like Coach Mason with that background was attractive for me. I’m excited to get going.”

 

Northwestern announces slew of schedule changes, including future home-and-homes with Tulane and Rice

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Northwestern claims they have the best home schedule in the country for the upcoming 2018 season and they have a pretty good case with Duke, Akron, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Notre Dame all coming to Ryan Field. Based on the latest moves on their future schedules however, that good run of big names doesn’t quite continue.

The school announced a slew of new games in the coming years on Wednesday, including a pair of home-and-homes with AAC and CUSA opponents. First up is a date with Tulane in Evanston on Sept. 12, 2020, followed by a return game in New Orleans on Aug. 30, 2025. As a result of that first game against the Green Wave, the Wildcats had to move their previously scheduled contest against Central Michigan from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19 in 2020 (also at home).

Another school in the South was also added to the NU docket with a second home-and-home series with Rice way out in the future. The pair will play in Houston on Sept. 8, 2029, while the return game at Ryan Field is set for Sept. 6… 2031. Yeah, 2031. The two teams will also meet in 2024 and 2025.

A single home game against FCS power South Dakota State was also announced by Northwestern and will be played on Sept. 12, 2026.

The moves mean the Wildcats’ non-conference slate is pretty much set in 2019 (at Stanford, vs. UNLV and UMass), 2022 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Southern Illinois) and 2024 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Rice). The games announced Wednesday fill in some of the holes left in other years but outside of the trip to the Farm next season and a home-and-home with Colorado in 2026/27, there’s not a ton to write home about.

At least Northwestern will always have that 2018 home schedule to point to.

NCAA data shows number of graduate transfers in football nearly doubled last year

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The biggest issue the NCAA is tackling at the moment is an easy one to pick out: transfers. Coaches have chimed in about potential changes and new rules have been enacted but even as we approach the Media Days portion of the calendar next month, transfer talk has been one of the hot topics across all major sports at the collegiate level.

Perhaps that interest is one reason why the NCAA released a new study this week looking into the numbers of one particular category of players: graduate transfers. While the number of actual graduate transfers remains relatively low (about 1% of the total number of student-athletes), the number itself continues to skyrocket year-by-year as more and more players take advantage of rules that allow them to graduate and play immediately at their next school.

According to the NCAA, that number of grad transfers is five times bigger in 2017 than it was in 2011 for men’s sports alone and football in particular saw the number of players moving around nearly double from 117 total in 2016 to 211 the following season. The rates are higher in men’s basketball but the overall number is naturally much bigger in football given the vastly bigger roster size.

Data for 2018 was naturally not made available since we’re just in the middle of the year but a similar increase wouldn’t be too surprising to see given the number of big names that have made headlines prior to the upcoming season. That includes players like Michigan’s Wilton Speight (to UCLA), Cal’s Tre Watson (to Texas), Notre Dame’s Jay Hayes (to Georgia) and Alabama’s Brandon Kennedy (to Tennessee) all among those taking the grad transfer route. It seems like nearly every week we see one or two players announce their intentions to take a similar path.

While we might not have 400+ players listed as graduate transfers in football when 2018 comes to a close, it certainly doesn’t appear that this trend will be slowing down anytime soon and the coaches that are complaining about this brand of “free agency” in college football will just have to get used to the new reality of player movement in light of a number of new NCAA reforms on the subject.