Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick would like to see a couple of SEC teams in particular on the Fighting Irish’s schedule in the future.
Swarbrick told the Indianapolis Star on Friday that he’s interested in seeing Notre Dame play both Alabama and Auburn.
“Alabama is one of those opponents we would love to play,” Swarbrick said. “I hope we do get that done. It was interesting to see the list of teams we’ve never played (from the SEC). I frankly didn’t know it. I have a great relationship with the Auburn athletic director (Jay Jacobs), and I’d love to figure out how to do that. There’s something to be said for ticking off everyone on that list until you can say you’ve done it over the history of this program.”
Swarbrick mentioned both schools after he was asked if he would consider scheduling Alabama even after the Crimson Tide defeated Notre Dame handily, 42-14, in the 2012 national title game.
Prior to that question in the Q&A session with the newspaper, Swarbrick said he targets SEC and Big 12 schools when scheduling opponents as ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 schools already are annually on Notre Dame’s schedule.
Alabama and Notre Dame, two of college football’s most famous programs, are classic rivals after playing six times from 1973-1987. The Fighting Irish went 5-1 in that stretch, including wins over the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl.
After 1987, Alabama and Notre Dame did not play again until the national championship game at the end of the 2012 season.
If Alabama and Notre Dame were to play, it would seem most likely to come in a season opener at a neutral site. Since 2012, the Crimson Tide has begun every season against a marquee non-conference opponent in either Arlington, Texas or Atlanta. Its last home-and-home series came against Penn State during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Auburn, also among college football’s top programs historically, has never played Notre Dame. Along with the Tigers, only Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi State have also never played the Fighting Irish among SEC schools.
Arkansas and Notre Dame, however, announced earlier this month that they will play a home-and-home series for the 2020 and 2025 seasons. When asked how the two-game series came to fruition, Swarbrick described scheduling as often “more random than people would anticipate in a sense.”
“We’re trying to find the highest quality opponent we can who will do a back-to-back (series) where the games are separated by so many years,” Swarbrick said. “Some schools just don’t want to do that. They want them in consecutive years and this is separated by five years, so that becomes part of the equation. And do they have the dates open? You start with targets but there’s an element of luck you can’t control.”
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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