Notre Dame will have a lot less thinking to do at this time next year, record permitting. The Irish's ACC partnership will give them access to the league's bowl lineup in years the Irish don't reach an access bowl.
For now, though, Notre Dame is not going BCS-bowling in the final year of the BCS. And where it lands remains up in the air.
Brian Kelly said after his team's 27-20 loss Saturday at Stanford that he did not think the way the Irish finished their 8-4 campaign will alter their postseason destination.
"I think Jack (Swarbrick) would know better than I," Kelly said. "But there's going to be some opportunities for us that we'll just have to sit and evaluate and find out. There's a lot of schools that obviously still have an opportunity to take some of those spots that are there. We're in a unique situation this year. We're appreciative of any bowl that would take a good, hard look at us."
The Dec. 28 New Era Pinstripe Bowl had an opening after the Big 12 failed to have a team qualify for the Bronx-based game, and it figured to be a natural destination for a school with a large fanbase in the greater New York area. But Kelly had said he would leave this decision in the hands of a senior class that helped usher in a new era of Notre Dame football, and from the reaction of his players, winter at Yankee Stadium is not the most appeasing option.
"I mean, we want to go and win our last one, " left tackle Zack Martin said. "We got one more game together. This team has worked too hard to not go out and play the right way our last game. We'll go where they send us. But we like to go where it's sunny out."
Martin added that he and his teammates do not want to play in the snow. The most attractive available sites under such criteria would appear to be the Dec. 26 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl or the Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas Bowl.
"We'll see what it comes to," quarterback Tommy Rees said. "For us, it's about playing our last game, finding a way. Wherever we are, we're going to be ready to play."