Notre Dame's regular season SEC drought may come to an end in the near future.
A Notre Dame spokesman confirmed Tuesday the school is in discussions with Georgia about scheduling a future series, though the dates are to be determined. CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler first reported the discussions Tuesday, and reported the dates of the games could be 2018 and 2019. The Notre Dame spokesman cautioned that those dates are not set in stone, as the two schools are still in the discussion phase of things.
Notre Dame hasn't played an SEC opponent in the regular season since Tennessee in 2005.
In August, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on a South Bend radio station that Georgia would be a "natural" opponent for the Irish. And when Notre Dame released its 2014-2016 schedules, athletic director Jack Swarbrick said scheduling an SEC team would be a goal going forward.
"We probably have room in this decade for one more home and home with somebody," Swarbrick said. "Our priority would be an SEC school.”
Georgia, for a few reasons, makes an awful lot of sense for Notre Dame.
If Notre Dame indeed does schedule Georgia for 2018 and 2019, it may create a brutal schedule in 2019. The Irish begin the second half of a four-year home-and-home agreement with Texas in 2019, with the game taking place in Austin -- so if Notre Dame does play Georgia in 2019, it'd make sense for that game to be in South Bend and 2018's game to be in Athens. Notre Dame also travels to Stanford that year and gets Navy and USC at home, and will have five to be determined ACC games as well.
2018 makes sense for the game, if Notre Dame wants to schedule the series around 2019 and 2020's Texas games then the latter half of a home-and-home with Georgia could be pushed back to 2021. Notre Dame has a game scheduled at Michigan State in 2017, so if the series was bumped up a year it'd still run into a bit of a scheduling headache. There's also the possibility that Notre Dame could convince Georgia to play in its annual Shamrock Series, with Atlanta's new football stadium set to open in 2017 a probable option.
But with the College Football Playoff debuting this year, Swarbrick said in December that playing teams from various power conferences would be critical in boosting Notre Dame's chances of being part of the four-team tournament. If the games are in 2018 and 2019, Notre Dame would play the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 in 2018; in 2019 the Irish would play the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12. It'd be tough to keep the Irish out of the playoff with good showings against those schedules.
An added bonus to playing Georgia would be from a recruiting standpoint. Notre Dame has pulled a handful of big names out of Georgia recently -- Stephon Tuitt and T.J. Jones, most notably, as well as Isaac Rochell -- and playing a game in the talent-rich state could help open more doors for Irish coaches there.
And from an academic standpoint, Georgia routinely ranks as a top 100 school. The latest U.S. News university rankings had Georgia at No. 60, ahead of past and future Irish opponents like Purdue, Michigan State and Syracuse.