The ACC announced yesterday that the prettiest girl still alone on the dance floor, Notre Dame, is joining the conference. Sounds good, surprisingly good, right?
Oh, wait, there’s one little detail we forgot to mention. Quoting from the official release:
. . . with the exception of football”
Pesky little detail there, eh?
Basically, Notre Dame is shifting from the woeful Big East (which will now completely collapse, I’ll wager) to the nervous and twitchy land of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Same deal basically, except that Notre Dame agrees to play 5 ACC teams in football each year. This isn’t really an innovation or change for the Golden Domers, as they already have four now-or-future ACC teams on their current schedule.
While the initial reaction to this move was widely positive for the ACC, more national pundits are beginning to question the wisdom of ACC commissioner John Swofford. In the end, it appears that Notre Dame gets everything it wanted, and the ACC gets the same bad deal that didn’t work for the Colonial Athletic Association or the Big East.
Positives for Notre Dame include:
- Immediate upgrade to basketball revenue and profile. The Big East is no basketball slouch, obviously, but the ACC is the brand name.
- Upgrade bowl tie-ins for football. That’s right, the deal allows Notre Dame to leapfrog the bowl-eligible ACC schools for any bowl slot save a BCS game, which the Domers are already eligible for as the golden independent. Swofford has guaranteed that at least one ACC school a year is gonna head to a less than prime bowl because the prime bowl can pick the Irish.
- No real commitment to do anything with the ACC in football other than play a few of them each year. Which ND already does.
- Stable (relative to Big East) conference while still avoiding the B1G and Big 12 rules requiring full membership. Interestingly, the ACC had the exact same rule . . . until yesterday.
- Notre Dame’s academics are more consistent with the ACC than with the Big East.
So, what are the positives for the ACC?
- They made the nightly news yesterday for something other than a scandal at North Carolina or Miami.
That’s about all I see for them.
The biggest two barometers of just how bad this deal is for the ACC are 1. the reaction of the CTU and FSU fanbases, and 2. – well lets wait on #2 for a moment. Although this is only anecdotal evidence, I can report that local talk show callers to WCCP are in full-fledged revolt mode over this deal. Many seriously believed that the SEC or Big 12 were about to offer the Tigers a slot, and this seems to all but close off that possibility. FSU alumni that I”ve spoken with are excited about playing the Irish a couple of times a decade in football, but seem to think they could have negotiated that deal on their own without Swofford’s additional conditions.
Oh, and back to the 2nd bad barometer. I’ll quote from the ACC official press release:
In addition to extending an invitation to Notre Dame, the Council of Presidents voted to increase the conference exit fees to three times the annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of over $50 million.
Why would the conference need to add this draconian penalty for leaving? It’s not a sign of healthy conference relationships, obviously. As you may already know, the SEC has NO exit fee – ZERO. If you want to leave, you are welcomed to leave. But the ACC is basically threatening its member institutions with athletic budget suicide in order to keep them at home.
Anyone else think that Notre Dame is exempt from this provision?