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POPE: Steve Spurrier latest to question Notre Dame-ACC arrangement

South Carolincoach Steve Spurrier talks with reporters during SEC football MediDays Hoover Ala. Tuesday July 16 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier talks with reporters during the SEC football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

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Updated: August 21, 2013 6:17AM



We’ve come to the portion of the college football schedule where media days take center stage.

It’s the time where conference coaches and players gather in large hotels and are asked about the upcoming season.

There are plenty of standard responses. You know, “avoiding turnovers and costly penalties” and on and on.

Sometimes there is a surprise. That was the case Tuesday.

It was the SEC media days.

But still somehow Notre Dame ended up a topic of discussion.

We can thank South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier for briefly — very briefly — shifting the attention away from a certain Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback’s actions at a camp.

Spurrier always entertains at these types of events. And Tuesday he addressed several areas, including Notre Dame’s conference affiliation.

“The new four-team playoff, Mr. (Bill) Hancock (the executive director of the College Football Playoff) is on the committee to try to tell us how it’s all going to work out, the committee is going to name the four teams. He said ‘we’re all sitting at the table, with all the commissioners of all the BCS conferences and the athletic director at Notre Dame (Jack Swarbrick).’ And then somebody said ‘why was he there?’ We’ll, he’s equal with all the commissioners. And we just started trying to figure out why the athletic director at Notre Dame is equal to all the conference commissioners. Nobody had a good answer,” Spurrier said.

“Nobody had a good answer except that’s the way it’s always been done. For whatever reason, all 14 of our head coaches thought Notre Dame should join the ACC and play football like all the rest of us. They are in a conference — and I know the Notre Damers will get mad at me and us coaches maybe for saying that. And if you were a Notre Damer you would say ‘we’re supposed to be independent always in football.’ But from all the rest of us that are in conferences we sort of said ‘why aren’t they in a conference.’”

Spurrier isn’t the first coach to address Notre Dame. And it’s likely he won’t be the last.

Notre Dame officially became a member of the ACC in most sports on July 1. Football remains independent, but will play five games a season against ACC teams starting in 2014. The hockey team is in Hockey East.

Recently, Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski shared his thoughts on the arrangement with the New York Post.

“I think you can’t do something for one that you’re not willing to do for all in these type of situations,” Krzyzewski said. “I would never have accepted personally them coming in and not being totally in.

“Why don’t Duke and North Carolina do something different in basketball? I mean it’s not right. I’m happy that they’re part of it I’m just not happy the way that they’re apart of it.”

This week, it was Spurrier’s turn.

“It’s hard to figure out why they sort of have their own conference,” Spurrier continued. “They are sort of in the ACC. We just thought, I know it’s probably not going to happen, it won’t happen because I said it. But maybe if you guys can give me a good enough reason why they’re not in a conference with all the rest of the schools, that’s just something we talked about there.

“We talked about that and we all voted 14-0 that we thought they ought to be in a conference. All 14 coaches. Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Les Miles, we all voted on that.”

The last three sentences brought some laughter throughout the room.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly chuckled when he was asked about Spurrier’s statements during an interview on ESPN radio.

“We have a lot of people who give us advice on a day-to-day basis,” Kelly said with a laugh while on “SVP & Russillo” on Thursday. “So Steve is going to have to take a number because we’ve got plenty of other people that think we should do different things.

“I know where he’s coming from. Jack Swarbrick has a vote at conference commissioner time. But being an independent and having a strong brand has earned us that opportunity and I think it works fine in college football. I don’t think we’re out of place nor do we wield any power that’s not balanced out with all these conferences.”

You never know what stories will pop up at a media day event. Next week, the Big Ten will hold its two-day event in Chicago. I wonder which coach will say something fun.



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