What Conference is Notre Dame Football: Exploring the History and Future of a College Football Powerhouse

What Conference Is Notre Dame Football

As a college football fan, you may have heard of Notre Dame football, one of the most storied programs in the sport’s history. But do you know which conference they belong to? In this article, we will explore the history and future of Notre Dame football and shed light on why their conference affiliation matters.

As a college football powerhouse, Notre Dame has a long and illustrious history. The Fighting Irish have won 13 national championships and produced some of the game’s most iconic players and coaches. However, despite their success, Notre Dame has remained an independent program, meaning they are not affiliated with any particular conference.

But why does conference affiliation matter? For starters, it impacts a team’s schedule, as conference members play each other in a predetermined set of games each season. Conference affiliation also affects a team’s bowl game opportunities and TV exposure, as conferences often have agreements with certain bowls and TV networks.

So, what conference is notre dame football in? The answer is a bit complicated. While the Fighting Irish are not officially a member of any conference, they have a unique relationship with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Notre Dame plays five games each season against ACC opponents and has a standing agreement to participate in the ACC’s bowl lineup if they are not selected for a New Year’s Six bowl.

Notre Dame Football: A Brief History

Notre Dame's location in Indiana, highlighted on a map of the United States
Notre Dame’s location in Indiana, highlighted on a map of the United States

Notre Dame football has a rich history that spans over a century. The program was founded in 1887 and was initially coached by Jesse Harper, who led the team to its first undefeated season in 1913. However, it was Knute Rockne who put Notre Dame on the map, leading the Fighting Irish to multiple national championships in the 1920s and ’30s.

Over the years, Notre Dame football has produced a long line of legendary players and coaches. Some of the team’s most notable achievements include winning the national championship in 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988, 1989, and 2012.

Notre Dame’s success has made it one of the most iconic and influential programs in college football history. Known for its strict academic standards and tradition of excellence both on and off the field, Notre Dame has long been a destination for top-tier high school recruits and a source of inspiration for football fans around the world.

What is a Conference?

Definition of a Conference in College Football

A conference in college football is a group of teams that compete against each other throughout the regular season. These teams are usually located in the same geographical region and share similar academic and athletic objectives. Conference membership allows teams to play a predetermined set of games each season, providing a sense of stability and consistency in the schedule.

Purpose and Benefits of Being Part of a Conference

The purpose of being part of a conference in college football is to create a sense of community and unity among member institutions. In addition to providing a consistent schedule, conferences also offer opportunities for shared resources, such as revenue sharing and joint marketing efforts. Conferences also provide a platform for member institutions to collaborate on academic and athletic initiatives, further strengthening the bond between member institutions.

Role of Conferences in Shaping the Landscape of College Football

Conferences play a significant role in shaping the landscape of college football. They are responsible for creating schedules, determining bowl game tie-ins, and negotiating media contracts. Conferences also have a say in the selection process for the College Football Playoff, as the playoff committee takes conference affiliation and strength of schedule into account when selecting teams. Additionally, conferences can influence the direction of the sport by implementing changes to rules and regulations, such as the recent adoption of a new overtime format.

In summary, conferences are a vital component of college football, providing structure, stability, and a sense of community to member institutions. Understanding the role of conferences in college football is crucial to understanding the sport’s landscape and the factors that impact a team’s success.

Notre Dame Football and Conferences

As we mentioned earlier, Notre Dame football is not officially a member of any conference. However, they do have a unique relationship with the ACC, playing five games each season against ACC opponents.

Despite this connection, Notre Dame has historically chosen to remain independent. One reason for this decision is the team’s rich history and national brand recognition. As an independent program, Notre Dame has the flexibility to schedule games against top-tier opponents from all over the country, which helps them maintain their national profile.

Another reason for Notre Dame’s independent status is the financial benefits. As an independent program, Notre Dame has greater control over its TV rights and bowl game revenue, which can result in more significant financial gains than being part of a conference.

However, being independent also has its drawbacks. For instance, Notre Dame does not have guaranteed access to a major bowl game each season, unlike conference champions who have automatic bids. Additionally, being independent means Notre Dame may have a tougher time scheduling games, as many conferences prioritize games against their own members.

Overall, Notre Dame’s independent status is a double-edged sword. While it affords them certain benefits, it also presents challenges that they must overcome. As the college football landscape continues to evolve, it remains to be seen whether Notre Dame will eventually join a conference or continue to go it alone.

The Future of Notre Dame Football and Conferences

As college football evolves, so too does the landscape of conferences and independent programs. Notre Dame football’s unique relationship with the ACC has allowed them to maintain their independence while still enjoying some of the benefits of conference affiliation. However, recent developments have sparked renewed interest in Notre Dame’s future conference plans.

Recent Developments in Notre Dame Football’s Conference Affiliation

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted college football schedules and forced conferences to make adjustments to their season. Notre Dame, as a member of the ACC for the season, was able to play a full schedule and even went on to win the conference championship. This success has led some to speculate that Notre Dame may consider joining the ACC full-time.

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Joining a Conference

Joining a conference would provide Notre Dame with a more stable schedule, as they would have a predetermined set of opponents each season. It would also increase their chances of making the College Football Playoff, as conference champions often receive priority consideration. Additionally, joining a conference could lead to increased revenue and exposure for the program.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to joining a conference. Notre Dame would lose some of their independence and would have to share revenue with other conference members. Additionally, joining a conference could limit Notre Dame’s scheduling flexibility and reduce their ability to play traditional rivalries.

Insights into Notre Dame’s Decision-Making Process Regarding Conference Affiliation

Notre Dame has historically been very deliberate in their decision-making process regarding conference affiliation. The program values their independence and the ability to maintain their traditions and rivalries. However, they also recognize the benefits of conference membership and have shown a willingness to work with conferences on a limited basis, as evidenced by their relationship with the ACC.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to join a conference will come down to a variety of factors, including financial considerations, scheduling concerns, and the desire to compete at the highest level of college football. As one of the most prestigious programs in the sport’s history, Notre Dame football’s future conference plans will undoubtedly be a topic of great interest and discussion in the years to come.


In conclusion, understanding Notre Dame football’s conference affiliation is crucial for any college football fan. While the Fighting Irish are not officially a member of any conference, their unique relationship with the ACC has provided a level of stability and success in recent years.

As Notre Dame continues to navigate its future in college football, the question of conference affiliation remains a hot topic. Will they continue to remain independent, or will they finally join a conference? Only time will tell.

Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is certain: Notre Dame football will continue to be a force in the college football landscape. As a fan, it’s important to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest developments surrounding this iconic program.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on what conference Notre Dame football belongs to. If you want to stay up-to-date on all things college football, be sure to check out footballpluss.football for the latest news, analysis, and insights.