Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is keeping his eye on how the college football landscape evolves in the wake of the latest conference shakeup.
The departures of Pittsburgh, which plays host to the Irish on Saturday, and Syracuse from the Big East to the ACC in the near future became official today, and there appears to be plenty of more changes to come.
Connecticut is reportedly also looking to leave the Big East for the ACC, plus Texas A&M’s desire to exit the Big 12 for the SEC could cause Oklahoma and Texas to rethink their futures in the unstable Big 12.
“As the head coach, you’re always listening to what’s going on out there," Kelly said. “How it affects our day-to-day operation is none. It doesn’t affect what we do, because nothing is going to be decided this season.
“We are listening to it … This is a big time in college football, and (Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick) is actively involved in it. I hear about, but I’m focused on my team.”
Swarbrick has held firm that a top goal for Notre Dame during conference upheavals is to remain independent.
But if super conferences are formed, the Irish could face the decision of joining a conference or be left behind.
Kelly reiterated the university’s desire to keep an independent football program, and he pointed to scheduling and recruiting to being to advantages of not being affiliated with a conference.
“You can put together a schedule that gets you from the East Coast to the West Coast, and in recruiting, it allows you to have that large sampling. You’re not marginalized geographically in recruiting,” Kelly said. “On the other side, you’re not playing for a conference championship. There’s pluses and minuses. I like the pluses that we have as independent right now, but like anything else, we will keep our ear to the ground.”