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Remaining Independent to Cost Notre Dame a First-Round Bye?


Notre Dame
© Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

College football finally has agreed on the new format for the 12-team playoff that will take effect in 2024.  It just happens to come a year too late after undefeated Power 5 conference champion Florida State was left out of the playoff.  The argument of the most deserving vs better team will now only take place about the last team in, and if we are being honest most fans don't care about who’s in at 12 unless it's their team.   The 5 highest ranked conference champions will get automatic bids, and the remaining 7 spots will be taken by the top-ranked teams.



In this new format, the first 4 teams will receive byes to the second round, and teams ranked 5-8 will get home games in round one against teams 9-12.  To get one of the coveted top four spots you must be one of the top 4 ranked conference champions.  By doing this, the CFP Board has maintained the importance of winning your conference championship.  Under the new format, what happened to Florida State being left out can not happen again, and in almost any year if you win one of the remaining Power 4 conferences (SEC, Big 10, ACC, Big 12) you should almost be guaranteed a spot in the top 4.


Now we come to the Notre Dame dilemma, what happens if the Irish are ranked as one of the top four teams after conference championship weekend?  According to the new guidelines Notre Dame would not be able to receive a bye due to the fact there is not a conference champion.  Going into the season Notre Dame already knows that no matter what their record is, the best possible position they can get in the CFP is 5th.  The University of Notre Dame along, with their fan base will learn fast, that their stubbornness and arrogance have taken away the easiest road possible to win a national championship.


Notre Dame not being able to obtain a bye will drastically decrease their chances of winning their first national championship since 1988.  To make matters worse for Notre Dame, there is no cap being placed on the number of teams for the SEC and Big 10 that can get in.  This means that The Irish will be looking at terrible matchups in most of the playoff games, making a bye that much more important.


Notre Dames's refusal to join a conference has now put them in a place no team has ever been in, that being before they even play one game, they already know they can not finish 1st in the regular season. There is not one sport in the world where a team goes into a season knowing that even if they win every game the best possible place, they can finish when the regular season ends is 5th. 


Notre Dame could have avoided all this if they just would have joined the Big 10 like many believed they should have years ago. To make matters worse, if there was ever a time to join the Big 10, it was when their biggest and most historic rival USC joined



The Irish need to swallow their pride and pick a conference, because with rumors of a possible SEC/Big 10 departure to form their own playoff, Notre Dame could be on the outside looking in permanently.

 

 

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