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Notre Dame Joins The ACC In Everything But Football, Because Notre Dame Still Gets What It Wants
Throughout the realignment craze that’s reshaping major college sports, one major question has always been: what happens to Notre Dame? The Big East, despite adding basically whichever schools will agree to join, was greatly weakened by the departures of Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia over the last year, and as Notre Dame is a member of the conference in all sports but football, it was natural to wonder if the school would look for a new, more stable sports home.
But a Notre Dame move would come with a big question mark: would another conference take the school in if it wanted to still be a football independent? As much as the Big East has been in flux recently, it did offer Notre Dame a pretty sweet deal: the stability of conference membership in everything but the big cash cow of football, and – thanks to the independence and the ability to negotiate its own TV contract that comes with it – the benefit of that cash cow being even more of a cash cow than it normally would. Would any other conference be desperate enough to offer Notre Dame that luxury?
Well, today we got a definitive answer: Notre Dame is moving to the ACC in all sports… except football. (Well, not hockey either, but the ACC isn’t a hockey conference, so there was no real way to work that one.) They’re throwing the ACC a bit of a bone by agreeing to play five conference members a year in football, but considering they’re already playing against three ACC teams this season – and four if you want to include Pitt – they won’t exactly have to move heaven and earth to meet that requirement.
And for that bit of a bone, the ACC throws the Irish a 48-oz. Porterhouse in return. There was no reason for Notre Dame not to do this – they get out of a makeshift conference still in danger of being further poached if realignment continues in favor of a conference that would stand to do some of the poaching, while remaining able to mostly do what they damn well please, football-wise. Maybe the “5 ACC games a year” commitment might threaten some rivalries, but with the three ACC games a year it already plays not screwing with said rivalries, the impact may be minimal. And we imagine the school will probably be okay with, say, a few less Purdue games in exchange for the upgrade it just made.
We guess this is where we point out that Notre Dame got another, better conference to bend to its will despite being 32-31 in its marquee sport, the sport that makes anyone care about Notre Dame in the first place, from 2007-11. A good brand and a storied history – and huge fanbase – are still extremely powerful things, and they’ve allowed Notre Dame to emerge from conference realignment in a more enviable position than ever despite its recent struggles. What’s in a name? For Notre Dame, the answer still appears to be: all the school will ever need.
Getty photo, by Jonathan Daniel
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