Editor’s note: I originally published this on December 29th, 2011. Looks like I saw the future a few months ahead:
As Notre Dame prepares to kick off versus Florida State today in the Champs Sports Bowl, the answer to where ND fits in the long term conference expansion is becoming painfully obvious. The Irish will face their fourth ACC opponent, and look to go 4-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
I understand the desire/need to stay independent in the short term, but in the long run, the ACC, not the Big Ten is their perfect natural home. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney said at conference basketball media day that there haven’t been discussions about ND joining his league for quite some time. And that’s fine. If ND in the B1G hasn’t happened by now, it’s not going to happen.
The agreement was reached through amicable and mutually respectful discussions between the BIG EAST Conference and Notre Dame.
“This decision makes sense for the BIG EAST,” said Aresco. “In view of Notre Dame’s expressed desire to join the ACC on an earlier timetable, the BIG EAST and Notre Dame were able to arrive at an acceptable resolution. The BIG EAST can now focus fully on its future alignment and rebranding efforts. I want to thank the Notre Dame administration and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick for their efforts in moving toward this orderly transition. Notre Dame has been a valued member of the BIG EAST and we wish them well.”
“From the time of our decision to join the ACC we have stressed our commitment to ensuring that our departure was achieved in a collegial manner,” Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick said. “This agreement realizes that intention and we are very grateful to the members of the BIG EAST and Commissioner Aresco for helping to facilitate this orderly and timely transition.”
It’s kind of like if you need to ask a girl where you stand with her, you don’t want to know the answer. Simply, you stand in the friend zone, where decided to condescend/relegate you. Or as Louie Armstrong famously said “if you gotta ask, you ain’t never gonna know.”
Now that we’ve put that ND joining the Big Ten nonsense out to a Midwestern dairy pasture, let’s talk about why the ACC is a fit. Well, first you have the mediocre football being played- by both ND and the ACC. For the past decade, 8-4 to 9-3 has been the pinnacle type of season for both the Irish and pretty much all ACC teams. Miami and Virginia Tech have had a breakthrough double digit win season here and there, but for the most part, this is college basketball land. The ACC is about Duke and North Carolina, on the hardwood, not the gridiron.
I understand why ND has stayed independent, but over time that desire/need will change. It’s great for them that they have the NBC television contract, but soon every conference will have their own network, and all the high-majors will have nationally televised games/added revenue from tv. The Irish haven’t won a national title since 1988, or been in the conversation for once since 1993. The 1940s dynasty was more than a half century ago.
“Rudy” was a great sports movie, and promotional vehicle for the University, but even that film is 17 years old.
And yesterday’s news about the new collaboration between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten actually benefits ND, helps them figure out their schedule, and plays well into the idea of ND one day joining the ACC. Interesting article from Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports:
the Big Ten vs. Pac-12 game would be a substitute for that league game on the schedule, which means Notre Dame’s spot would not have to be sacrificed in favor of a “guaranteed” home game against a lesser opponent.
Notre Dame should be able to retain its rotation of marquee opponents, and it also should be able to keep most of its customary dates. Don’t look for the Irish to lose their annual Thanksgiving weekend game in California, against either USC or Stanford. And the Big Ten opponents probably will remain slotted in the earlier portion of the schedule.
Scheduling Notre Dame continues to make sense for the leagues for two reasons: enhanced TV inventory and enhanced strength of schedule.
The article mentions that there’s a close relationship between Big Ten Commissioner Delaney and ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick. So, I’m sure there will be no hard feelings when the Irish are in the ACC. With Pitt, Syracuse and UConn joining the league, the ACC is beefing up and ND would have two established rivalries already in conference: Pittsburgh and Boston College.
That’s an added bonus, but the really selling point is the Eastern Seaboard market. ND will always have their Midwestern fanbase; and they have a decent, but not huge reach out East. More towards the Atlantic is where they need to go.
Irish hoops coach talked about how important the connection to the east is/has been at ND basketball media day.
“We’ve been through one reconstruction and it looked pretty bleak 6 years ago. I’m hopeful that we can keep the Big East together, and if we can’t then I hope we can still have something in the east, the east is really important. It’s just amazing that it’s happening during the academic year,” Brey said.
He re-iterated it again that day, as the same rules shaping conference expansion/realignment for basketball apply to football.
A Fulbright scholar, author and MBA, Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB)