Kelly has wanted to add an SEC team to his schedule for quite some time, and he reiterated that desire to Feldman, saying that he and athletic director Jack Swarbrick are still trying to make it work.
In Kelly's own words (h/t Saturday Down South):
No I don’t think that that’s something that’s too hard. I think one of our wishes, Jack (Swarbrick, Notre Dame AD) and I, is that we want to get an SEC team on our schedule. The discussions have been to include an SEC opponent, and we want one that we feel makes sense, that has a very good geographical draw for us in the SEC.
If you look around we’re in Florida already with Florida State, so I think you can probably figure out pretty easily what SEC (team) would be the best draw for us as it relates to recruiting and an alumni base.
Kelly is targeting the Gators now that Notre Dame is a partial member of the ACC, a change that includes a trip to Tallahassee to play Florida State in 2014. Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com also reported in April that the Irish are working to get a home-and-home scheduled with Georgia—a team Kelly mentioned as a "natural opponent" in August 2013, per Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune:
Notre Dame's two most recent games against the SEC have both come in the postseason, and neither has gone well. The Irish were destroyed, 42-14, by Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship and similarly beaten, 41-14, by LSU in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.
Before that, its two most recent games against the SEC were a regular-season home-and-home with Tennessee in 2004 and 2005, which Notre Dame swept.
It makes sense for Kelly to want to play SEC powers. Beating storied programs such as Florida or Georgia would look great on Notre Dame's resume, which should become more important in the age of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Even if the Irish lose, staying competitive with one of the best teams in the country will shine a favorable light on them in that regard.
Or, if you prefer a more cynical view, you could call this an attempt to make Notre Dame more relevant to high school recruits in the southeast—the kids who have been flocking to the SEC en masse for most of the past decade. So thought Dan Wolken of USA Today when Kelly first called Georgia a natural matchup 10 months ago:
Kelly will continue working to get this done, and now that the SEC has adjusted its non-conference scheduling procedure—requiring that each school play at least one power-conference team (Notre Dame included) per season—it seems like it finally might happen.
Or maybe it won't, and SEC fans can continue trolling Irish fans about the beating they took in Miami back in 2013. Matters of scheduling are too speculative and political to predict before they happen.
But still, we'll keep you updated with any new developments.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT
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