SOUTH BEND -- It was only a matter of moments before Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick’s summer beard lost its distinction as the most prominent feature on his face.
A scowl quickly grabbed that qualification.
That’s when the subject of the Irish football team’s 2014 schedule — and beyond — came up.
“No matter how hard I try to explain it, it just doesn’t work,” Swarbrick said of next year’s yet-to-be revealed slate.
If you’ve tracked all the stories about opposing schools claiming they are on ND’s dance card next year, you end up with a number greater than the NCAA limit of 12 regular-season games.
The Shamrock Series game, though, will be a part of it somehow, somewhere. It’ll be incarnation No. 5 for the off-site home game that has set up shop in San Antonio, Texas; New York; Landover, Md., and Chicago to date.
“Essentially what you’re doing with the Shamrock Series is taking one of your games that might otherwise be a home game and moving it,” Swarbrick said. “So there’s nothing about our scheduling dynamic that really impacts that. We can move any game and make it the Shamrock game.”
Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan, Stanford, Louisville, Wake Forest and North Carolina are the projected home games/candidates for that game.
“You do it in consultation with your partner. You don’t do it unilaterally,” Swarbrick said of choosing the game. “So you say, ‘Here’s an idea. How about this time we take this game here?’ And if they don’t want to do it and they really want to come here, then we would let them do that. But I think a lot of schools see the benefits.
[body_starts_here]“It’s going to be a prime-time broadcast. The excitement that has surrounded these games has been great, so I’m not worried about finding opponents for those games.”
The scowl then disappeared and Swarbrick went on to opine on a number of topics, including the future of the NCAA, the college football playoff format, the state of Notre Dame football and more:
Q: How do you see the state of the NCAA and do you see some kind of restructuring as imminent?
A: “It’s hard to ignore the sentiments expressed by each of the five (conference) commissioners during their media days, which certainly suggests a level of momentum toward reform that I think is clear.
“The distance between some consensus that you need it and what it is ... is not known. It’s not obvious. The hard part comes next. OK, if everyone agrees we need it, what is it? And that will be a process.
“Is there strong momentum? Yes.. Will it produce meaningful reform? Time will tell.”
Q: Do you think it’s possible exploring reform will eventually lead to some schools breaking away from the NCAA?
A: “I don’t sense any interest in that among my colleagues. But I think it would be wrong not to acknowledge it. When you head down a road like this and start this process, you don’t know where it will take you, but there’s no momentum for it that I can sense.”
Q: From Notre Dame’s standpoint, do you see it as a positive? Will it be good for Notre Dame?
A: “It’s hard to predict, because you don’t know the outcome. But would Notre Dame benefit if the organization that’s responsible for collegiate athletics were in a better position right now? Absolutely. And functioning more effectively? You bet.”
Q: College football hasn’t played its first four-team playoff yet, and already there are a lot of people saying, “Let’s make it bigger.” Is it possible to make it bigger, given the contract? And what are your thoughts about making it bigger than four teams?