It was originally reported that Notre Dame was looking to join everyone in abandoning the Big East. Reports originally said that the Big 12 was the lead candidate and t
hat a decision or move could be made as soon as the end of the summer. Well indeed a decision has been made, Notre Dame will move to the ACC with the exception of football and hockey.
“We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us,” said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics. “We are able to maintain our historic independence in football, join in the ACC’s non-BCS bowl package, and provide a new and extremely competitive home for our other sports.”
Football will remain independent but play 5 ACC teams a year, while the ACC doesn’t offer hockey so they’d have to find a home for that program, most likely with Hockey East. The 5 ACC games presents issues for Notre Dame’s football schedule. USC, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Navy and Stanford have been traditional games but none are ACC schools.
This season they play some teams in the ACC or headed to the ACC this season: Boston College, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and a renewed rivalry with Miami. But next year they only play 1 ACC team, Pittsburgh, with Temple, BYU, Arizona State and Air Force filling out the rest of the schedule.
Notre Dame will have to wait 27 months before they can officially join the ACC, the Big East requires 27 months notice that a school is leaving the conference. Though West Virginia, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh were able to leave earlier by paying higher exit fees.
But what is really the most interesting piece of this story is that the ACC has increased it’s exit fee to $50 million. Many have thought that the Big 12 was looking to expand and the ACC was a big target with schools like Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and even Miami. However with a $50 million bill to leave the conference it doesn’t look like anyone will be leaving.
This could set ripple effects leaving other conferences scrambling to increase their exit fees to protect
themselves from realignment poaching. The Big 12 has said they’re happy at 10 members and less slices of the pie means bigger slices. They would however I imagine like to get back to 12 teams so they can have a name that makes sense but also a championship game and the revenue that generates for a conference.
The Big 12 is a desirable conference after signing a $2.6 billion media deal with ABC/ESPN and Fox as well as the creation of the Champions Bowl in partnership with the SEC.
So if ACC teams are off the table, that really limits the choices to join the Big 12 and essentially removes adding any marquee programs. Now there is the assumption that by leaving the conference immediately they could avoid those new exit fees which won’t be in effect until 2013, but that would take an incredible move and in the middle of the football season no less.
So if all ACC teams are off the table and you’re looking for two more teams what options are left? Assume all Pac-12, Big 10 and SEC teams are off the table as well because they are.
- SMU (Conference USA but headed to Big East)
- Louisville (Big East)
- Cincinnati (Big East)
- Houston (Conference USA)
- Memphis (Conference USA)
- Rice (Conference USA)
- North Texas (Sun Belt)
Not necessarily the best choices there, and I only included North Texas cause they’re in DFW. But realistically you’d have to think the old Southwestern Conference teams (Rice, SMU, and Houston) would be the front runners for the spots. Geographically they make sense, they’re quality institutions with semi big football programs. Houston has enjoyed success with Case Keenum at QB and been ranked meanwhile SMU is a growing program that just won a bowl game and is moving to a BCS conference.
The Big 12 could possibly wait it out to see when the next bit of instability begins. Which I assume it will, their new deal is evenly split amongst the 10 teams coming to $20 million a
But one thing is for sure, it’ll be interesting to see what develops.