Now that we know that the ACC had their most profitable season with Notre Dame playing in their conference, despite being smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic. We can now confirm the financials are not in question (as if they ever were for Irish fans). The question we ask now is - Could Notre Dame compete and win in the Power 5 conferences year in and year out? We will operate under the assumption that Freeman will at least stand on par with what Kelly was able to do as Head Coach. I will also take into consideration the effort that he has given on the recruiting trail (not similar to other coaches) and the fact that so far there has been drastic improvement in that area. Regarding other teams, we will be thinking of them as they are built now. That includes current coaches, recruits, transfers, etc.
Big 12 - We are going to go in order of how often/plausible Notre winning the conference would be. Some people may have thought ACC would be first and we will get to them. I think that with Oklahoma losing Riley the Big 12 has no true leader right now and the Irish would be able to win/compete for a conference title year in and year out. Our receivers and corners were my only concern playing in this conference but I think this is where Freeman’s recruiting bonus comes into play.
ACC - As I said we would get to our bestest of friends the Atlantic Coast Conference. The reason I did not have the first is I do believe Clemson has a pulse. It is faint right now (after last season, and losing Venables) but I am not ready to completely count them out. I think Notre Dame is at minimum the second-best team in the conference every year and would be the best if Clemson succumbed to its wounds. After learning that Dabo Swinney’s real name is not Dabo, I really hope they do.
PAC-12 - I’m working under the assumption that Riley will be able to at least make the Trojans competitive while he is Head Coach. I once again believe Notre Dame competes every single year in this conference. I think every season would be a battle between the Irish, Trojans, and Ducks. I do believe Notre Dame would win more than not but I respect Oregon’s recruiting, and I believe USC does eventually come back to a certain extent.
Big Ten -The only obstacle I truly worry about is Ohio State. I think Notre Dame has proven they could handle themselves in the Big Ten. I think that the obstacle that is Ohio State could remain a large one but I’m not 100% in on Ryan Day (Newly appointed villain). I think the Irish are top two (three at the absolute worst) in the conference every year. It speaks to the fact that we are through 4 of the 5 conferences and there is not much separation between the conference I believe they would dominate the most and the second to last.
SEC - Now for the big bad. This is the big question that every Irish fan has thought about before. How would Notre Dame compete in the SEC? I will start by mentioning divisions. So far I’ve tried to stay away from them because with the new rules we aren’t 100% sure what every conference is going to do going forward. I also didn’t think it mattered as much regarding the other four conferences. With the SEC our chances to win would be factored on how to make the championship which is hard to foresee. In this case, I think it would be best to put the teams into tiers. Tier 1: Alabama, Georgia. Tier 2: LSU, Texas A&M. Tier 3: Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss. Some could argue you could flip Florida and A&M but this is just meant to be a rough layout. I think Notre Dame would fall perfectly into the second tier. I think there would be seasons where we would reach up into tier 1 (we’ve competed well with Georgia before) and those would be the seasons where we would have a good chance dependent on division layouts and things like that. Overall I think the Irish would be in the top four in the SEC standings year in and year out, without question, and regularly being in the discussion to at least make and possibly win a title. Although I do believe this is the one conference Freeman would HAVE to improve on what Kelly has built.
While racking my brain before writing this I wanted to make sure I was being accurate in my assessment and not being the fanboy who thinks we could win every conference. Now that I’ve gone through it I realize it’s not too much of a fanboy reaction anymore. Notre Dame would be one of the top teams in all of the conferences year in and year out in my opinion, with the one exception being the SEC. Even there I believe depending on how it’s set up and how Freeman performed we would have a chance every year. I think this speaks to where Notre Dame is as a program. Whether we like it or not it has been brought to a point by Brian Kelly where it is ready to make a jump. If Freeman can do the thing, I think there are a lot of great seasons ahead.