Late Friday, Arizona State Sun Devil fans went into uproar over an ESPN report, sent to many mobile phones, which stated sources told ESPN that Notre Dame is dropping ASU from its 2014 schedule. The game, to be played in Tempe, is scheduled for October 25, 2014, and was expected to bring a top-tier, out of conference program to the Valley.
Arizona State did release a statement last Friday night which stated, “As far as Arizona State University is concerned we still have a valid contract with the University of Notre Dame to play football in 2014. We look forward to hosting them at Sun Devil Stadium.”
Of course, ASU is going to hold to the contract, but Notre Dame will find its way out of the deal. Game cancellation has been a possibility since last month when Notre Dame accelerated their departure from their Big East affiliation by two years to this July, instead of July 2015 when there was no financial penalty. Notre Dame decided to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for all sports except football. The ACC allowed Notre Dame to remain independent in football, but required the school to play five games against ACC opponents. For their 2014 schedule, the Fighting Irish need to add three ACC opponents as only Syracuse and Pittsburgh are scheduled. With only one game to fill on their schedule and keeping the standard two open dates, the Fighting Irish need to cancel or move two opponents
Notre Dame won’t cancel long-time opponents Michigan, Purdue, Stanford, Navy, Northwestern, or USC, so from the Notre Dame stand-point, the moves or cancellations come down to 2014 scheduled opponents Rice (home), Temple (away), or ASU (away).
This is a big deal for ASU this late in the scheduling process, and it isn’t just the financial loss of having Notre Dame in the Valley for the weekend. The 2014 Sun Devil out-of-conference schedule includes a home game against Weber State and a road game at New Mexico. Without a marquee non-conference match-up, Arizona State Athletic Director Steve Patterson is left scrambling to find a team for 2014
When running through the major BCS conferences, only a few teams appear to have possible openings for 2014. Schools like Auburn, Arkansas, Texas Tech, and TCU could be potential opponents in 2014, but in order to take a road game in Tempe, those schools would most certainly want a return game in their town. The obvious date for the return game would be taking the 2017 spot when ASU is supposed to travel to historic South Bend, Indiana, for its return match-up with Notre Dame.
Based on all of this information, if anybody in Sun Devil Nation wants to see the Sun Devils play the Fighting Irish on the field, they should find a way to Dallas, Texas, this fall.