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Jack Swarbrick says Notre Dame would play 13th game if allowed by NCAA

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In lieu of playing in a conference championship game, Notre Dame would gladly add a 13th game to its schedule if the NCAA would allow it, Fighting Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said on Sunday at the College Football Playoff.

"We would love the opportunity to play a 13th game to take that issue off the table," he told ESPN. "Nothing would make us happier."

Swarbrick said he has spoken to NCAA officials about it "a little bit" but acknowledged the difficulty in changing a rule that impacts the majority of its membership. The NCAA limits teams to 12 regular-season games, plus a conference championship game if they qualify.

"What interest does everyone else have in supporting that legislation?" he said. "Are you writing it so that it says if you are an independent ineligible for a conference championship you can play a 13th game? Is it discretionary that anyone not in a conference championship can play a 13th game? So it's hard to get the legislative support for that.

"They do it in the context that almost all of their schools have conference championships, so you're essentially saying with the conference championship, the number of games is 13. That creates a differential in the number of contests I would love not to have to deal with."

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said he never considered the possibility of Notre Dame adding another game, but that the 13-member selection committee "can deal with the different schedules."

"Scheduling is a local matter," Hancock said. "The committee examines every team's schedule side-by-side with the other teams. There are differences, but the committee considers FCS, they consider how many games a team plays in its conference. They consider the full, 12-game schedule for each team. It's not as hard as it might seem."

Swarbrick said he feels there is a difference between playing a rigorous 12-game schedule and a lesser 13-game schedule that includes weak nonconference opposition.

"I do feel passionately that when you schedule a noncompetitive opponent you haven't necessarily played 13 games, and you shouldn't be treated as having played 13 games," he said. "The single most valuable thing in college football from a competitive standpoint is a bye week, and when you opt to play 'name your school,' you schedule a second bye week. It's an enormous advantage. I'm fine with that. Schools can schedule however they want to schedule, but don't be saying play 13 games to somebody else's 12."