Irish need BCS berth in 2013

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Notre Dame's bowl opportunities this fall appear pretty clear cut: It's BCS or bust.

If Notre Dame does not qualify for a BCS bowl and each of the 10 FBS conferences fills its respective bowl openings, the Fighting Irish could be left without a bowl.

"We don't have something set," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN at the ACC's spring meetings.

Notre Dame can qualify for a BCS bowl by winning at least nine games and finishing in the top 14 of the final BCS poll. If the Fighting Irish win at least six games and are not in the top 14, they are not guaranteed of a bowl berth and could get shut out of a bowl game.

"We have a lot of bowls and with conference realignment I think how that dynamic likely will play out in a few places, I think there will be bowl opportunities available," Swarbrick said. "I understand you can create a scenario where there's not [an opening], but I think there will be."

The five BCS bowls and the remaining 30 bowls all have contracts with conferences or specific teams for this year. Contractually if there are 70 bowl-eligible teams, Notre Dame -- if it doesn't qualify for a bowl -- would have to stay at home.

However, industry sources believe there would be some last-minute re-negotiations between bowls to make room for Notre Dame. A bowl could "pay off" a conference by allowing the bowl to take Notre Dame instead of a team from the conference it's affiliated with.

"I'm guessing there would be some bowls who would look to redo deals at the last minute to get Notre Dame," a source said.

Starting in 2014, Notre Dame won't have to worry about this postseason uncertainty.

As a full ACC member in all sports but football, Notre Dame will be eligible for any of the ACC bowls if it doesn't make one of the six College Football Playoff major bowls.

"It absolutely reinforces solving our postseason situation with the ACC affiliation," Swarbrick said. "This is a great year to reflect why that is so important to us [going forward]."

Starting next year the Fighting Irish also can qualify for the Orange Bowl, where they would play the ACC champion. If so, the Irish would receive $13.75 million, sources said.

Beginning in 2014, Notre Dame will be eligible to be selected for any ACC bowl as long as its overall record is within one of the bowl-eligible ACC schools.

"There will be a provision in which for Notre Dame to be selected over an ACC team at the point of selection, another eligible ACC team, that Notre Dame would have to be ranked higher, equal to, or in the win column, be within one win of any ACC teams that are also eligible to be picked," ACC commissioner John Swofford said.

For example, an 8-4 Notre Dame could not be selected over a 10-2 ACC team, but could be selected over a 9-3 or worse ACC team.