SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As the game of musical chairs that is conference re-alignment takes place across the nation, Brian Kelly remains head coach at Notre Dame, a football independent. Having coached at a Big East school, Cincinnati, two years ago, Kelly has had a view from both sides of the landscape.
"Football independence at Notre Dame, I think it's schedule and recruiting," Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference of the advantages. "Those are the two things. You can put together a schedule that gets you from the East Coast to the West Coast, and in recruiting it allows you to have that large sampling. You're not marginalized geographically in your recruiting. On the other side, you're not playing for a conference championship. So, there's pluses and minuses. I like the pluses that we have as an independent right now, but like anything else, I think I've said this a number of times, we'll keep our ear to the ground."
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was surprised by the departure of Syracuse and Pitt for the ACC, telling reporters Saturday that he never envisioned such a scenario.
The moves became official this morning, leaving the conference 18 of the Fighting Irish's other teams compete in smaller by two.
Still, Swarbrick insisted, football independence remains Notre Dame's intention, according to the Chicago Tribune:
"We will approach this, no matter what the change is, with that as our goal," Swarbrick said. "We'll see whether we can manage our circumstances to meet that goal."
Kelly said the constant shuffling doesn't affect his day-to-day operations as a football coach, though he does feel the timing of the circus takes away from what college football Saturdays are generally about — football games.
"Yeah I think so," he said. "I think anytime there's movement like this, it takes a little bit away from the games on Saturday. But I think for the average fan, they care very little bit about this. They're more interested in their teams, and they know the networks are more interested in showing these games. So I think it's just good talk for the media. But I think the people that are involved, week-to-week, their focus is on the game and their opponent."