I wake up early this morning to find the Notre Dame bloggers chanting “ACC! ACC!”. It wasn’t until later we all find out what they are talking about. All the rumors were confirmed that the ACC was adding the staunch independent from South Bend to the fold...for the most part. Here is what we know:
-Notre Dame will become a partial member of the conference no later than 2015 in all sports except for football.
-Those sports where Notre Dame will compete fully are Baseball, M Basketball, W Basketball, Cross Country, M Golf, W Golf, M Lacrosse, W Lacrosse, M Soccer, W Soccer, Softball, M Swim & Dive, W Swim & Dive, M Tennis, W Tennis, Track & Field, Rowing, and Volleyball.
-The sports not supported by the ACC outside of football are Fencing and Hockey, where they will compete presumably as an independent.
-For now, Notre Dame will play 5 ACC football games a year and be eligible to compete against an ACC team in the Orange Bowl, if selected, and will be part of the ACC pool in Non-BCS bowl games.
-The ACC also announcing that the exit fee is now raised to $50 million dollars for any member institution that leaves early.
So, like it or not, it is a done deal. This is what we see as the good and bad of the move.
-Solidifies the ACC. Many people don’t like the ‘partial’ move by Norte Dame, but the provisions enacted keep the perceived ‘on the fence’ teams at home. Most people have a short memory when the rumors were flying at the beginning of 2012 where the Big XII and the SEC were supposedly looking for more dance partners. The $50 million buyout shuts that door completely, as in this economy, nobody can convince boosters to shell out that type of dough to leave for maybe a slightly better situation. And while it seems that the conference is ‘bowing to ND’, it is a lot better than having teams bolt and leaving us in a worse position 3 years from now.
-More money come 2015. The ACC now has another chip to bring to the table to redo their TV deals come football playoff time. Now it might only be a few million more, but Notre Dame is a brand within itself, and with that comes more exposure in the Mid-West and other stations outside of ESPN2U3ABCRJP.
-More Bowl Games. Yes, the ACC didn’t fill their allotment last year for bowl contracts, but it is the possibility of bowl games that should and will expand. Shoot the PAC12 and BIG10 don’t always fill their bowls from year to year, and if there is an ACC team that is bowl eligible, under the current system, there will be a bowl for them.
-Stronger Non-Football Conference Slate. Right off the bat, both basketball leagues are improved, Baseball now evens out at 14 (Pitt has a team, Syracuse does not), and Men’s Lacrosse is now a juggernaut (and are now guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tourney, which has NEVER been a problem). Should not be a problem to slide them into the other sports as well.
-Academics Stronger Than Ever. It might not be a factor to most, but it is to the ACC. Some people have been talking about “Why didn’t the conference add West Virginia or blah blah?” Well Pitt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame are all great quality schools outside of the arenas, and that says a lot.
-Football. Yep, it is not a great deal for the biggest sport out there. They get all the benefits of being in a conference, without having to be in a conference. ND will not be able to compete for an ACC title, but that is small potatoes for them. But the biggest impact will be on the Non-BCS bowls for us. Where we might be slated for Atlanta or Orlando, we could (and probably will) get passed over and end up in Nashville or Charlotte. How you combat that: win games and don’t give the choice.
-Re-enforcement of Basketball Perception. Fair or not, the move to add Pitt and Syracuse did little for football and a lot for basketball. Rightfully so, teams like Clemson and Florida State who clamor for high profile football games were slighted, and gave fodder for Twitter for months. Norte Dame direct impact for football is minor and adds another basketball power. It can, and has, been perceived that the “Blue Bloods” in Carolina are behind the league. That might be a small percentage of the truth, but it is being brought to the forefront of the conversation.
-Tougher to get in the NCAA Basketball field. In the prime of the Big East, they were hopeful to get 11 or more in the field, but in reality, it was as many as 9. The same will apply to the ACC. Adding 3 quality teams does not mean 3 more teams in the tourney, and teams always on the “bubble” will find that they will have to win not just 10 in-conference games, but as many as 12 to be taken seriously.
To Be Determined
-No 16th Member...Yet. I know what Swofford said. I’m sure that everything is great now. But we have been down this road before. Remember this was once a 8 team league and, for years, that was fine. Then South Carolina left. Then we added Georgia Tech. Then Florida State. Then Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech. Then Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Now Notre Dame. I don’t think the door is completely shut, but it will not just take a team to make it 16. The only conceivable way it will happen is if Notre Dame goes all in, but with that outside the realm now, it won’t happen. But don’t think for a second that a few years into the new playoff system, if the ACC is powerful enough (stop laughing) that they get a regular seat at the table and the only way ND can get in is with that 13th game on their schedule.
-”Financially Neutral Situation”. In the press conference today, Notre Dame said that it is a ‘financially neutral” move for them. Yeah, they are doing this out of the goodness of their heart. There will be more money their way via increase in contracts. What is to be determined is will they have a bigger share than the rest of the ACC. For now, the agreement is the ACC14 split their money and ND keeps their TV and bowl money, but that might not be the case come 2015 and we need to keep an eye on that as well.
I’ve been up and down about it all day as the details were released. In the end, worse case scenario, the benefit of keeping the ACC together and “poach proof” with the added benefit in the sports we do well at (for now) is worth it. But we will wait and see. We have 3 years to stew on it.
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