It’s much too early to predict what kind of impact Notre Dame’s pending five-game schedules will have on East Carolina’s quest to maintain regular series dates with ACC opponents, but it’s safe to assume it will get more difficult.
Much of how that issue unfolds will hinge on the ACC’s decision about switching from a planned nine-game league schedule to eight.
ACC commissioner John Swofford, in announcing Notre Dame’s decision to eventually leave the Big East and enter the ACC, said the plan to go to a nine-game format next season could be “revisited.”
Obviously, ECU would prefer an eight-game league schedule for its many ACC neighbors – although, for the near future, the Pirates are fairly well set regionally.
After Saturday’s visit to North Carolina, the only remaining nonconference game for ECU this season will be against Navy in Greenville on Oct. 27.
Next season, however, the Pirates are set to face the Tar Heels and N.C. State in addition to The Citadel.
Thus far, the fourth non-league game hasn’t been announced, but it will not be a third straight uphill assignment against Southeastern Conference heavy South Carolina.
The UNC-ECU game in 2013 is set for Sept. 28. A date has not been set for the Pirates vs. N.C. State.
Barring changes, the Tar Heels will open the 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29 at South Carolina, which worked over ECU early this season and in 2011. It’s interesting that the Gamecocks, who left the ACC in 1971, will open 2013 with the Heels and close as usual against Clemson.
The Pirates’ series against South Carolina will resume in 2014 with an Aug. 30 game in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
ECU was scheduled to face Virginia Tech in 2013, but the Hokies, anticipating a nine-game ACC slate, want to push the start of a four-year series to 2015. That would leave Virginia Tech facing nonconference games against Alabama (Aug. 31, Atlanta), Western Carolina and Marshall next season and William & Mary, at Ohio State and Western Michigan in 2014.
If the ACC axes the nine-game move before it starts in order to give more room for Notre Dame to maneuver, the Pirates and Hokies could possibly find a way to resume their original plan to meet in 2013.
If the nine-game ACC schedule stays as is for 2013, the Tar Heels are set. In addition to the opener against South Carolina and the trip to Greenville, they’ll start a series against Minnesota in Chapel Hill on Sept. 7.
Otherwise, UNC hasn’t announced a lot of its plans, although the 2015 season opener is scheduled to be a trip to Ohio State.
The variable for ECU – and ACC teams for that matter – is how quickly Notre Dame is able to work the five ACC games into a scheduling mix that the Irish have said will continue to include Southern Cal, Navy, Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State on an annual or regular basis.
That will not be easy, but it’s likely that most of the ACC vs. Notre Dame games will fall in October and November.