Notre Dame’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football and hockey is not a surprise. The two parties have been in serious negotiations for the past several months. The ACC’s original offer was to allow the Irish be a member in all sports but football and hockey, if it would play SIX ACC teams a year in football.
Notre Dame, wanting its cake, ice cream and cookies from an independent status and its own television network, argued that 6 was too many. The compromise was five, which wasn’t as inclusive as the Big East deal of a few years ago, but similar in style.
In talks around the world of college football, Notre Dame officials were told by the Big 12 and Big 10 that any arrangement would have to be all or nothing–meaning football would have to be part of the deal. The Big East made its deal, with the hopes that if Notre Dame eventually changed its mind about football, the slide into the Big East would be both easy and natural.
It didn’t happen. ACC officials have the same mind-set. With Pittsburgh and Syracuse coming into the league next summer, the league will move to 14 teams in football and 15 in basketball. According to ACC commissioner John Swofford that’s the way it will stay.
Unless, of course, Notre Dame gets tired of living in semi- seclusion and wants to be part of the football party as well. If that happens, the ACC will then look for a 16th team in football and presumably target either Rutgers or Connecticut from the Big East.
But what is missing here is the darker side of Notre Dame’s move to the ACC for some ACC teams, including schools such as Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College.
One of the primary motivations for Notre Dame to get things done sooner, rather than later was a growing concern about where the Irish football program–average at best for the past several years–would wind up in post season play if it didn’t have a BCS type of record–10 wins or more.
Notre Dame’s arrangement with the Big East allowed it to slide into bowl slots alloted to Big East teams with certain exemptions allowing the Irish to fill the slot once during a certain period of time. The Irish used that to play in the Gator, Sun and Champs bowls.
For the next two seasons all those exemptions are gone, which meant that a 6-6, 7-5 or even 8-4 Notre Dame team could be left out of the bowl dance. Irish officials didn’t like that. So they moved to the ACC, which will now allow Notre Dame to get into its regular bowl rotation as a non-member in football.
And that folks is a giant body blow to the non-elite teams of the ACC.
Let’s say you are Boston College or Maryland and you have turned your season around from 4-8 and 2-10. to 8-4 and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando and the Belk Bowl in Charlotte are all looking for teams from the ACC. And Notre Dame at 7-5 is available.
Guess who the bowl is going to choose? Or let’s carry it another step. You are BC and you are 6-6 and the Military Bowl is the last bowl standing out of 9. Notre Dame at 6-6 or BC at 6-6.
Sorry Eagles. Sorry Terps.
You think it can’t happen. BC went 9-3 with MATT RYAN at QB, won its division, but lost the ACC title game to Virginia Tech and did not receive an invitation to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, which is where BC’s record and status as a division champ suggested the Eagles should wind up.
Notre Dame deserves all the credit for pulling off the move. It was a no risk move and it eliminated a major concern and worry–not getting to a bowl game with a less than BCS record.
Losing the Irish in basketball and the other non-revenue sports, will be merely a speed bump for the Big East, which must continue to make major adjustments to its structure. The Irish never really brought much to the Big East table in basketball. Losing Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse and West Virginia in basketball, however, is considerably more serious and the Big East will have to adjust with a new group of schools.
On Wednesday the talk coming out of Notre Dame officials and ACC officials was about what a great fit this is for both parties.
That might be true in Greensboro, Chapel Hill and South Bend, but the Irish shouldn’t expect anything but a curt nod from various other outposts in the ACC, where it’s going to hurt more than it is going to help.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.