ARLINGTON, Texas -- Notre Dame's College Football Playoff appearance was virtually over by halftime Saturday, and that led to a social media firestorm suggesting that the Irish, who were handled 30-3 by Clemson in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, didn't belong.
Struggles in numerous big postseason games along with Notre Dame's status as an independent could certainly make selling the playoff committee on future bids a tough task.
But Irish AD Jack Swarbrick downplayed that notion in a postgame exchange Saturday.
Asked if he thought the Clemson result would make it harder for future Irish teams to get into the CFP, Swarbrick answered, "No." When asked why he felt that way, he said, "No, I don't think it will."
ACC commissioner John Swofford, who has been a proponent of the current four-team playoff model, said he doesn't believe Notre Dame's poor performance should be viewed as a flaw in the system.
"I think you look at it from the perspective of, Were the right things considered at the time?" Swofford said. "You make that selection based on the information they have at hand when they make it -- not after the semifinal games. So a lot of things can happen in a game, and if a team doesn't show well, it doesn't necessarily mean they didn't deserve to be here. They might've just had a bad day."
Notre Dame was the No. 3-ranked team in the playoff, a spot ahead of No. 4 Oklahoma. Georgia, last season's national runner-up, came in at No. 5, and some thought the Bulldogs should have been playing Saturday.
Swarbrick said earlier this week that he knows the lack of conference affiliation could have a negative impact on the Irish long-term, but Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins noted recently that the university is happy with its independence.
"We're very happy with our relationship with the ACC," he said. "It's a great conference. It fits us. We're very happy there, and that allows football to retain its independence. It's a great situation for us. We're not looking for anything else because we're very happy with the current situation.
"We're an independent not because it helps or hurts us with the College Football Playoff, but it really is who we are. We started in the 1910s, 1920s. We couldn't get into what was then the Big Ten. ... Our fan base is in California, it's in New York, it's in Pennsylvania, Ohio. We're an independent because it allows us to have a national profile, and really, that's who we are."
Should Notre Dame decide to join a conference full-time before 2036, it would be required to join the ACC, with which it has a contract that currently calls for the Irish to play five league games per season.
Swofford said Saturday that he would be interested in discussing full-time status with Notre Dame, but he will wait for the school to make the initial overtures and will not use the result of the Cotton Bowl as a selling point.
"They know if they reach a point of interest in joining the league, we're very open to having that conversation," Swofford said. "It doesn't need to be said, really. The relationship we have with them now is very beneficial to both the league and to Notre Dame. We went into it expecting that relationship to continue as it is over the long term, and if there's reason for that to change and join full-time in football, then we'd have that discussion."
ESPN's Dan Murphy and Heather Dinich contributed to this report.