Brian Kelly threatened not to take Notre Dame to the Rose Bowl if players’ parents weren’t allowed to attend the College Football Playoff semifinal.
And a monkey’s paw curled…
With Trevor Lawrence back in the Clemson lineup after missing the regular-season meeting between the Tigers and Fighting Irish, Kelly’s team took such a drubbing, 34-10, that there may not be a reason to worry about whether Notre Dame can get family support in the Rose Bowl, because they sure didn’t look like a playoff team in getting their butts handed to them in the ACC championship game.
Dabo Swinney complained about the Pasadena attendance restrictions, too, but not to the extent that Kelly did, and for all his faults and flaws, Swinney will have Clemson back in the CFP for a sixth straight appearance.
There’s also no doubt that Ohio State is CFP-bound, as the No. 4 team in the country rallied to beat Northwestern in the Big Ten title game earlier on Saturday. Given that Alabama started the day ahead of Notre Dame, it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which the Crimson Tide wouldn’t be part of the playoff mix, too, even with an upset loss to Florida in the SEC title game on Saturday night.
That would leave the Playoff committee to pick one more team from a group of Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Florida (if it could beat Alabama), undefeated Cincinnati (if it could win the American Athletic Conference championship against Tulsa), and undefeated Coastal Carolina.
The Fighting Irish would be the best choice for a television production, because Notre Dame is Notre Dame, but A&M closed the season with seven straight wins, including over Florida, and didn’t have a coach openly say he might skip out on the Rose Bowl before his team got torn limb from limb by Clemson in front of the whole world.
An undefeated Cincinnati or Coastal Carolina would be more deserving of an opportunity than anyone else, but everyone knows that the committee doesn’t give a damn about anyone outside the Power 5. So their best option is another ACC team.
At least Kelly should get a chance to take Notre Dame to a bowl game that players’ parents can attend in person, regardless of whatever the risk of COVID-19 might be there. Spreading coronavirus is the Notre Dame way, after all, so it all works out.