Kelly defends Notre Dame schedule following Swinney’s critique

Brian Kelly's team has tried to schedule ambitiously.
Matt Cashore/Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

One day after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he does not believe it is fair his team likely has to play 13 games to make the College Football Playoff while Notre Dame only has to play 12, his counterpart with the Fighting Irish had an answer. 

“We take great pride in the schedule we put together, and feel like it will stand up to scrutiny," Kelly told reporters on a teleconference, per the Charleston Post and Courier. “We don’t play I-AA opponents. We had three Power 5 opponents to start the season. No response, other than our schedule has to do the talking for us.”

To Kelly’s point, the Fighting Irish opened with Texas before going to Virginia, two major-conference teams that have been down recently. Then they played a Georgia Tech team that was ranked in the top 25 at the time before blowing out Massachusetts of the MAC last week. 

No. 12 Clemson is one of six ACC teams on the Notre Dame schedule this season, and the Fighting Irish will also play Stanford and USC of the Pac-12 along with Temple and Navy from the American Athletic Conference. 

Meanwhile Clemson plays Notre Dame this year on top of its regular eight-game ACC schedule and an annual in-state rivalry with South Carolina of the SEC. The Tigers also played Wofford from the FCS and Appalachian State, a former FCS power that recently moved up to the top level of Division I. 

If the Tigers make the ACC championship game, they will of course add a 10th Power 5 game to their schedule compared to nine for Notre Dame. 

"I don’t care one iota what Notre Dame does — that’s their business," Swinney said Tuesday during his press conference. "But ask me the question or my opinion, yeah, I think they should have to play 13 games. I mean, to me, I feel, not just them, same thing with the Big 12. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s equitable. I can’t do anything about it, so I ain’t worried about it. I could care less." 

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