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Notre Dame Football

How Notre Dame Football Will be Affected by Academic Calendar Changes

May 19, 2020

Yesterday Notre Dame announced some big news regarding a return to campus for students for the fall semester. It will start August 10th and that’s certainly encouraging for football despite there being no announcement regarding fall sports.

The whole idea of “no football without students” seemed like it could be a massive hurdle for some institutions, but with this announcement, it paves the way for athletes to come back and get started as well. We expect some sort of announcement this week about when football players will be able to return to campus this summer, but until we hear anything official, it’s impossible to comment on it.

But there are two things that stood out from the release Notre Dame sent out that could have a significant impact on fall camp and the regular season.

Here’s the paragraph from Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins that mentions it:

“A particular epidemiological challenge for college campuses arises when students leave for breaks, are exposed to infectious agents, and return to campus and possibly spread infections to others. To minimize this possibility, we plan to begin classes during the week of August 10, continue through without a fall break and conclude the semester before Thanksgiving. More details about the schedule for the fall semester will be forthcoming from the Registrar’s Office.”

Classes begin August 10, which is typically in the middle of fall camp. Classes were originally scheduled to start August 24-25. That’s a big difference for the preseason.

And with no fall break, the semester will conclude before Thanksgiving. That’s a big difference for the end of the season.

While we don’t know the schedule for football practices yet or have much guidance from the NCAA in terms of how many practices will be allowed in the summer and when, this definitely changes the structure of camp.

Camp is a time for the players to acclimate back to football, but to also work on fundamentals as well as installation on offense and defense. The focus is all ball during that time with all day dedicated to football. There might only be a week of that for Notre Dame this year, which doesn’t even get into the competitive aspect of fighting for spots on the depth chart.

They have the advantage of having the same defense and what is most likely the same terminology on offense with Tommy Rees being promoted, so returning players should be able to adjust fairly well. It’s going to be more difficult than it typically is for true freshmen, though. It won’t be as smooth for Notre Dame’s three graduate transfers either.

I expect it to be more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge adjusting to having a makeshift camp while classes are going on, but taking on a regular class schedule while preparing for a season isn’t ideal.

The early finish to the semester is something to monitor as well.

How much of an impact it could have will depend a lot on whether or not the schedule for the season stays as it is projected currently, but if that is the case, November is going to be even more of a grind for the football team.

Right now the Irish are scheduled to host Clemson, play at Georgia Tech, host Louisville, and then travel to USC this November. That’s a tough stretch in any November and throwing final papers and exams into that equation will make things even more challenging.

There is still a lot left to learn about what football will look like this fall and things can change very quickly, but this academic schedule is firm. Notre Dame’s coaching staff is going to have their hands full adjusting to it as well as the other obvious challenges of keeping the team healthy during a pandemic.

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