Once implausible, full ACC membership for Notre Dame seems possible

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Corrigan, who maintains contact with ACC commissioner John Swofford and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, isn't the only Irish-ACC connection. Two members of the conference's expansion committee, Duke athletic director Kevin White and Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, used to work at Notre Dame. White served as AD, Hatch in various roles, including associate dean of the school's College of Arts and Letters, and provost.

Bank on White, Hatch and Corrigan massaging negotiations on both sides.

Not surprisingly, Corrigan and others see football scheduling as the biggest hurdle separating the Irish and ACC.

With the addition of Syracuse and Pitt expanding the ACC from 12 to 14 members, league officials figured on bumping the conference schedule from eight to nine games, leaving teams three outside opponents. Notre Dame has played Navy every season since 1927 and wants to maintain an annual presence in California, which translates to yearly dates with USC and Stanford, one home, the other away.

Such an arrangement would leave the Irish no flexibility to play traditional Big Ten rivals such as Michigan. Those two programs are contracted to play annually through 2031.

Would the ACC consider an eight-game conference schedule? Would Notre Dame concede to playing in California once every other year? What of the Irish's TV deal with NBC that runs through 2015?

Issues, yes. Insurmountable, no.

If such questions can be resolved, the ACC should send the welcome wagon to South Bend and find a 16th to accompany Notre Dame — Connecticut would be the morning-line favorite. If not, the conference should be quite content with 14.

A source with ACC and Notre Dame ties who requested anonymity believes an agreement can be reached, and soon.

"To me," he said, "it's a no-brainer."

David Teel can be reached at 757-247-4636 or by email at dteel@dailypress.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/sports/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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