Story Poster
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick: 'I think it's going to be a mess'

December 11, 2020

College football is closing in on completing the 2020 season, but questions remain on how to get to the finish line.

Conferences have canceled games to protect top teams and others have adjusted rules the final week of the season to get its powerhouse in a better position to make the College Football Playoff. 

Then you have the College Football Playoff itself. The Rose Bowl brass is being stubborn and unwilling to move the game for a year despite the strict guidelines in California that would prevent any viewers. 

The college basketball season has tipped and it's been a wild ride already. 

"I think it's going to be a mess," stated Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. "I think we went into it with the knowledge it would present a special challenge. It presents a special challenge because of contact tracing in basketball, the size of the squad and the nature of the time together. Now, we're going a lot of things to try and manage that." 

When it comes to Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish had Tennessee cancel its early December game because of COVID protocols. Notre Dame replaced the Vols with Western Michigan and the Broncos had to cancel because of COVID. Purdue Fort Wayne was scheduled to replace Western Michigan and they had to cancel for similar reasons. 

Three cancellations in one week would define a mess. 

That said, Notre Dame and the ACC are doing all they can to get the season off and running with GPS tracking. 

"We're using technology that helps measure relative distances and time between players and coaches, which is very helpful to us," explained Swarbrick. "The same system the NBA used and the SEC is using it too." 

Mike Brey will take his program on the road for the second time this season as the Irish will head to Lexington on Friday for Saturday's clash with Kentucky. 

The Irish will fly for the first time and Brey leaned on the football program for advice on how to get in and out while keeping his players and staff safe. 

"You kind of pick the brain of football a little bit and how they've done it," Brey explained. "You're trying to leave a little bit later, so you're not in a hotel as long. You get into a hotel. You go to your room, grab your food, no family can meet you. We used to meet the families at the hotels the night before after team dinner and mass. There's none of that. Go to your room, wake up and get to the arena and get out of the hotel as soon as possible. 

"That's been a page from the football strategy. We're going to be able to get on Rupp's floor in the afternoon tomorrow when we land, so we're going to go right to the gym. Shoot a little bit, practice a little bit and go to the hotel. I know our administration has made sure the protocols of the charter company are in line with what we're doing. This is new territory for us. It's our first flying game." 

Kentucky sits at 1-3, but it's still Kentucky. The Cats have three first-round picks, according to Brey and the schedule gets harder from there. 

Dec. 12: @ Kentucky 
Dec. 16: Duke
Dec. 19: Purdue (Indianapolis)
Dec. 22: @ Syracuse 
Dec. 30: Virginia 

It's a daunting schedule, but Swarbrick was 100 percent on board with it. 

"In this environment, with all the uncertainty, I was Mike's biggest cheerleader in developing the schedule he developed," stated Swarbrick. "My view was this was the year to do this. Let's take a shot at this.

"Our guys have gone so long waiting to play again. They're excited to play. Would we build this same preseason schedule in a normal year? No. This felt like the year to do it. I think we'll learn a lot from it. My big regret with this is we have all these marquee games and no audience, which is more than a little bit of a frustration. 

"I'm really proud of Mike for taking this on and love the enthusiasm from the guys is reflected in a great effort against a very good Ohio State team."

Brey has mentioned he wanted the tough schedule to give his kids a chance to play top competition as the Big Dance is in question. 

Swarbrick agreed with his coach and wishes he could have done more to solidify postseason play. 

"We debated a lot of different approaches," said Swarbrick. "I, for one, was in favor of probably just the conference-only schedule. I was a strong advocate of an all-comers postseason tournament. I still regret we didn't head to that. I think you're going to have such differences in the number of games played and the nature of games that postseason selection is going to be very, very difficult.
"I wish I'd be more effective at selling the all-comers notion." 

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.