Pittsburgh was throttled by Notre Dame, 45-3, two weeks ago, the program’s second-largest margin of defeat in the last 24 seasons. The game frustrated Panthers’ head coach Pat Narduzzi. Yes, the loss itself was frustrating, but Narduzzi was peeved before the Irish crushed them.
Even if Pittsburgh hadn’t hosted Notre Dame as part of an unconventional 10-game ACC schedule, and even if the Irish didn’t become an affiliate member in 2013, they probably would’ve played their former longtime Big East non-football foe this season anyway. From 1930-2012, the teams met 64 times in 83 years, including in each of the five years before Notre Dame’s ACC partnership began. And Pat Narduzzi doesn’t like that arrangement, nor does like the current one-year arrangement that allows Notre Dame to play conference games and compete for a conference title.
“I hope they do [join the league fully]. To me, it’s either you play with us or you don’t play with us. You know?” Narduzzi said on Monday. You’d almost like to boycott them. But if you want to play in the ACC, come play in the ACC. I’m not the commissioner. So that’s John Swofford’s job to help out there.
“But to me, it’s either play or don’t play. And if you don’t want to play, let’s not give them five games. Let them go play BYU or whoever else they want to play. We shouldn’t be giving them games. But they’re talented, and we’d love to have them in the ACC for sure.”
Narduzzi’s comments come two days after Notre Dame made an ACC and College Football Playoff statement with a win over five-time defending conference champion Clemson. The win put the Irish atop the ACC Standings and, with a tiebreaker over Clemson and non-threatening regular-season schedule ahead of them, all but guaranteed a spot in the ACC Championship. It also put the ACC in prime position to land two teams in the playoff, which could send financial benefits to Narduzzi and Pittsburgh.
We know (and Narduzzi knows) why the ACC wants Notre Dame. And we know (and Narduzzi knows) why Notre Dame wants the ACC. This isn’t arrangement wasn’t concocted out of boredom. It’s all about money. And, again, Narduzzi knows that, and, frankly, it’s easy to see his frustration of the Irish’s preferred status.
It’s also easy to see why Narduzzi, who makes more than $4 million per year and might enter 2021 with a 41-35 overall record, should worry about leading better teams to ACC relevance before suggesting a boycott of Notre Dame games.