The University of Notre Dame has made a command decision by accepting an invitation to become a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning the 2013-14 school and athletic year. This will include all sports, except football. Football will stay as an independent. Because it’s leaving before the required 27 month window that the Big East has asked of them, Notre Dame will owe the Big East conference $5 million dollars for its early exit. If the Irish were to stay their welcome in the Big East, the earliest that they could join the ACC would be the fall of 2015.
People are right away questioning the fact that Notre Dame will not be a member of the ACC in football, but mainly they really don’t understand why they prefer to stay as a football independent. Sit back and think about it. It’s all about the money and the freedom of being independent. In years past, it really hasn’t hurt the football program, being an independent. ND has been to many different bowl games without having to be a member of a particular conference. There were some years when it worked out better that the Irish weren’t affiliated with a conference.
The Irish have been members of the Big East Conference since 1995, also in every sport except football. The Big East will sorely miss the Irish following this current school year. The Irish have created many great rivalries in many sports that will more than likely continue in the future, despite being in a completely new conference.
The ACC is probably grinning from ear-to-ear because of what Notre Dame brings to their conference. Every game an ACC team plays Notre Dame, on the road (at Notre Dame Stadium); it will be exposed nationally with the Irish under contract for all home games with NBC. If I were a betting man, I would lay some pretty good odds that most other games that the Irish play on the road, will either be picked up by ESPN, ESPN2, ABC or CBS. Notre Dame football always brings good ratings, so why a conference wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to get the ball rolling on this, I’m not sure.
This move isn’t just about the athletics at Notre Dame, but being able to associate with other great academic institutions and mix that with the other current ACC universities and athletics programs. “The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them.” “With a mix of institutions – many of which are also private, similar to Notre Dame in size and committed to excellence in research and undergraduate education – the ACC is an exceptionally good fit for us academically, as well as athletically,” said Notre Dame President, Reverend John I. Jenkins.
One key factor with Notre Dame staying an independent in football is that they will annually schedule 5 ACC opponents. That also means that it will face each ACC member once every three football seasons. Another plus to this scheduling is that the longtime rivalries with Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, Navy and USC will not be interrupted with the Irish playing five ACC schools every fall. With playing 5 Atlantic Coast Conference teams and the above six rivals, there will always be room left on the schedule for teams like Air Force, Arizona State, Oklahoma, BYU and/or many other options to be the 12th opponent for the Irish on a given football schedule.
Joining the Atlantic Coast Conference will help out a good majority of their sports. The Irish currently have yearly matchups with some ACC schools, so when this move does take full effect, they will just fill out their schedule with common opponents. Notre Dame will be able to renew old men’s basketball rivalries with North Carolina, Virginia and Duke that they started years ago in the Digger Phelps era between 1971 and 1991.
Talks of this move to the ACC have former men’s basketball head coach and current ESPN college basketball analyst pretty excited. “It’s an exciting day here at the University of Notre Dame as I’m on the campus seeing the glitter in everybody’s eyes,” Phelps said in an interview with SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday. “All those rivalries and the flavor of the Big East are disappearing,” Phelps said. “But what you’re doing is adding to one of the great conferences already, especially in basketball, men’s basketball in my particular game with coaching. And when you can add Syracuse, Pitt, Boston College and now Notre Dame to that flavor, oh wow, you’ve just got a basketball conference that’s really dynamic.”
“If I’m the commissioner I’ve got to say, ‘OK, one year we’ll play the tournament in Greensboro and then the next year we’ll play the tournament in Madison Square Garden.’ I mean, wow, you talk about excitement for New York City.”
There are many great things that will come out of Notre Dame becoming a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference. As this move unfolds, more details will be available to us as members of the media and fans. For the time being this school year, the Fighting Irish will dominate the gridiron as a great team, independently. The rest of the sports on campus will continue to succeed and win championships at all levels.