Swarbrick talks football playoff, Orange Bowl, Irish independance and strength of schedule

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick helped put together one of the most unprecedented events in college athletics history with the create a 4-team playoff for college football.

After helping to finish off the framework for the post-season late last month, Swarbrick rewarded himself with a vacation with his family.

Thursday morning--Swarbrick was back at work at Notre Dame and sat down with NewsCenter 16 Sports Director Jeff Jeffers to discuss a number of topics.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced that Notre Dame was in talks with the ACC about the Irish being a potential opponent for ACC teams in the Orange Bowl.

"I think there's been a little bit of misunderstanding with all of that," Swarbrick explained.

The new playoff format will result in three major bowl games on New Year's Eve and three more on New Year's Day with two of those games serving as the National Semifinals. Three of the six games---the Rose (Big Ten/Pac12), Champions (Big 12/SEC) and Orange (ACC) Bowls will count as contract bowls with tie-ins to the major conferences. The other three games will be at large bowl games or the semifinal games, depending on the year.

With the ACC locked into the Orange Bowl, a procedure for an opponent needs to be figured out--Swarbrick explains.

"It's a collective decision," Swarbrick said. "It's been portrayed as a Notre Dame discussion or somebody else's discussion but it's much more a collective effort to structure something that has a solution for the other side of the Orange Bowl.

"So a lot of us are engaged in that," Swarbrick continued. "It isn't limited to Notre Dame. We're making progress but there's more work to be done."

Swarbrick is certainly very satisfied with results of the 4-team playoff and how it all played out. More so, he feels it continues to allow Notre Dame to exist in the manner it wants.

"As we've said throughout all of our consideration for this--whether it's post-season solutions or conferences relationships--it starts with the premise of football independence and continue to be comfortable with our ability to do that and proceed that way," Swarbrick explained.

"I always tell people it has little to do with football and everything to do with the University. Football is a way for us to promote Notre Dame and we are going to offer two compelling examples of that this year with Dublin and Chicago and out independence facilitates that and fosters that. That's why it's so important."

The game in Dublin is where the 2012 season begins for Notre Dame against Navy.

"I was very optimistic about this when we put it on the schedule and starting working on it but it has far exceeded my expectations," Swarbrick admitted. "The enthusiasm surrounding this is incredible."

He then offered some advise for potential procrastinators.

"If you're going, I hope you have a hotel room," Swarbrick said with a smile. "They are in short supply right now."

"The country's excited about it, our fans are excited about it. It's a great way to kick off the football season; it's a great way to celebrate Notre Dame."

And while the season will start in a great way, it may be one of the hardest to produce victories in recent memory. The Irish have the toughest schedule in the country with matchups against five potential top 15 teams.

"I'd fire the AD," Swarbrick said with a laugh when asked if he made the schedule too tough. "It's a tough one and we may have missed the balance point this year. We'll see--you never know how years will play out."

"The thing i would say to our fans is this is the flip side of being independent. if you're going to be independent, be prepared to take advantage of it and you better be prepared to if you can play with anyone in the country because if not you should.

Swarbrick says the Irish will continue to build tough schedules and the 4-team playoff, selection committee and new post-season format all play a factor.

"it's hard to give it weight but i think it will be very important," Swarbrick explained. "The focus of this effort from day one was about protecting the quality of regular season. "Regular season college football drives all other college athletics and its the best assets we have."

Swarbrick says the committee that created the 4-team playoff kept asking, how does this affect the regular season over and over again. He says making strength of schedule matter, will make the regular season matter all that much more.

"I think you will see it play a huge role in the future of scheduling in football," Swarbrick said.

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