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Notre Dame Schedule - All about the NCAA Football Notre Dame Schedule

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The University of Notre Dame has a long history in football. Playing out of their stadium just outside South Bend, Indiana, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are one of the most popular football teams in the NCAA. The Notre Dame schedule is rarely an easy one. In fact, only two years in the past two decades stand out as being easy: 2005, and 2010.

The Notre Dame schedule is unique in several ways and it is anticipated by more people than any other schedule for any other team. The Fighting Irish are one of three (one of four beginning in 2011) NCAA teams who play independently of the standard NCAA conference and subdivision system. They are known as a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) independent school. As such, they have no conference organization that limits their scheduling and the teams they will play.

Although most of the independent schools play each other sometime during the 12-week season, they do not always have to. For instance the 2010 Notre Dame schedule has all three independents in match-ups, Notre Dame, Army, and Navy, but the 2008 and 2009 Notre Dame schedule saw them only matched against Navy.

The Notre Dame schedule is important to football fans across the nation because they are the only NCAA football team with a national broadcast television deal. NBC has nationally aired every home game on the Notre Dame schedule since 1991. This broadcast contract plays a big role in developing the Notre Dame Schedule. Their home games must be scheduled around preexisting NBC sporting events.

Another unique feature of the Notre Dame schedule is directly related to the NBC contract. Since 2009, the Notre Dame schedule has included one game played at a team neutral site. In 2009, this game was at the Alamodome in San Antonio against Washington State. In 2010, the Notre Dame schedule had them playing this game at Yankee Stadium against Army. This is relevant because these neutral site games are considered an extra home game, so the Notre Dame schedule includes 7 home games and 5 away games. This not only creates an advantage for NBC and Notre Dame through increased revenues, but it also gives them an advantage on the field, although this is denied by Notre Dame and the NCAA.

Most teams prefer to join a conference because there are several benefits in scheduling and promotion, but Notre Dame, being the most financially successful team in the league, has no need of this. Still, the Notre Dame schedule can be affected by a close alliance with the Big East Conference. Belonging to a conference gives a team guaranteed competitors, since the colleges themselves agree to the schedule. Without a conference, unpopular college teams could be left without enough competition. This is not a problem for the Fighting Irish. The Notre Dame schedule is always filled because their opponents get to take home a chunk of the NBC broadcast revenues.

Over the years, the Notre Dame schedule has created several national rivals. Five of the games on their schedule are determined by these annual rival competitions. The rival teams include Purdue, Navy, Michigan, Michigan State, and USC.

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