Notre Dame's Jack Swarbrick remains optimistic full 2020 football season will be played

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame officials have discussed a multitude of scenarios in the past week involving the 2020 college football season and how the COVID-19 global pandemic might affect it.

The one they remain fixated on the most, according to Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, is an undelayed, unabridged season.

“I don’t want to create the impression that we’re engaged in sophisticated modeling,” he told The Tribune in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “We’re not. There are just too many unknowns. We’re more in discussion about: What are the critical dates on the calendar? What might the decision-making look like?

“I remain optimistic,” Swarbick continued. “I don’t know that you have any other choice. Other than being prudent in planning, there’s not a lot of benefit in assuming the contrary.

“So our operating assumption is that there will be a full college football season. You don’t want to take your eye off that ball and get too consumed with the alternative.

“We’ll have enough time, as we get to critical dates down the road, if we need to shift course. But our focus is very much on playing a full season.”

And for the moment, that still includes playing the Aug. 29 season opener against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, as originally scheduled.

It’s Navy’s “home” game, and every one of those in the 93-year-old ND-Navy rivalry has taken place at a neutral site, with not a single game staged at the Mids’ Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

This year’s game would be the third time the teams have played in Ireland, with 1996 and 2012 the other occasions.

“We have been in touch with Navy,” Swarbrick said. “And the operating assumption — both theirs and ours — is that we’re moving forward (with playing in Dublin). That’s largely going to be a byproduct of what’s decided about the college football season.

“We think it is as likely to be driven by that as any unique factor about Ireland or travel.”

Something Swarbrick, ND head football coach Brian Kelly and other athletic officials have pivoted away from is the idea of trying to hold some sort of modified spring practice this summer.

College programs are each allotted 15 spring practice sessions, but Notre Dame’s was shut down March 12, because of health concerns regarding COVID-19, after staging just one practice, on March 5.

Tuesday would have been Practice No. 8 had the original schedule played out.

“There was a lot of discussion about that earlier,” Swarbrick said of the concept of spring practice in the summer. “but I think the calendar is starting to move us away from that to where I think most people are focused on an acclimation period of just getting you fit again and then into football activities.”

Read the complete Q&A with Swarbrick here.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick remains optimistic the Irish will play full football season in 2020, as scheduled.
Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly greets his players after they entered the stadium for their game against Navy on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.
Notre Dame’s Andrew Hendrix protects the ball as he goes throug Navy traffic on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.