Recently, our friends at Irish Sports Daily asked me to participate in an interview to give Notre Dame fans a perspective on what Clemson fans might think of the Irish and head coach Brian Kelly.
Earlier this week, ISD’s Matt Freeman, one of the best reporters on the Notre Dame beat, returned the favor and answered my questions on what he feels Notre Dame fans think about the Clemson program and head coach Brian Kelly.
This question-and-answer is the third and final one of a three-part series with Freeman.
How do you feel about Notre Dame’s tie-in with the ACC?
Freeman: “I think it’s good for everyone. I know everyone outside of the Notre Dame fanbase wants to see them in a conference, but for most schools, they’d do the same if they were able to pull it off. It’s benefited Notre Dame and hurt Notre Dame. Virginia got the ACC tie-in this year with the Orange Bowl when Notre Dame beat the Hoos in South Ben by two touchdowns. The ACC has also benefited from having teams play Notre Dame. Those road ACC games are sold out and at some places, sold out for the first time in years. I think everyone is excited when Clemson comes to town, but they’ve also seen Dabo [Swinney] and company roll the home team too many times. Notre Dame coming to town is still somewhat rare for ACC programs, so it’s a significant draw. I think everyone reading this remembers how Clemson was rocking (in a monsoon) in 2015 when the Irish came down to South Carolina.”
Do you think Notre Dame will ever join the ACC fulltime in football?
Freeman: “I’ve had this discussion many times with many people. I can’t see it happening until Notre Dame goes 12-0 and gets left out of the CFB Playoff in favor of a team that goes 11-1 or 10-2. That will force Notre Dame’s hand. I’m not sure that will ever happen because money is such a driving force in college football, but it could very well happen at the same time. I think under most circumstances, Notre Dame understands 11-1 isn’t good enough for the Playoff. As with any playoff scenario, there are exceptions, but they know it’s part of the deal because they aren’t in a conference. There are many positives for Notre Dame joining a conference and many negatives. Notre Dame wouldn’t have a CFB Playoff appearance if they were in the ACC, so they’ve shown it can be done and it’s on them to figure out how to do it consistently.”
Who do you think will win the Clemson at Notre Dame game in November?
Freeman: “Clemson. Dabo has too much firepower in 2020. Now, if it’s snowing and 25 degrees, it could be interesting, but Clemson should win. I predicted Clemson to beat Notre Dame by 14 in 2018 and as of now, I’d expect the same type of prediction barring the secondary being much better than expected. The well-placed bye week is also favorable for the Tigers, especially at that point in the year.”
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