It won’t be long until Notre Dame is playing ACC football, too

ACC commish John Swofford with Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. (AP photo)

ACC commish John Swofford with Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. (AP photo)

The big news Wednesday was that Notre Dame will join the ACC in every league sport except football. The news someday soon will be that Notre Dame has decided to remove the qualifier from its new affiliation. The guess here is that, come 2016, the biggest independent in the history of independents will be playing conference football in a conference that needs a football jolt.

Speaking on a teleconference, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Wednesday: “Our intention is to remain independent.” Then this: “If something would change, and it would have to be a drastic change, we’re committed to the ACC.”

In college football, drastic change occurs every hour on the hour. Three years ago, who’d have believed a playoff grid would be in place? Three years from now, the Irish will have grasped that continuing independence is overrated.  (Not incidentally, Notre Dame’s TV contract with NBC lapses in 2015.)

The advent of that playoff left the biggest name in college football — say what you will about Alabama, but the Tide has never had its own TV network — in a place no program could afford to be. It left Notre Dame without postseason assurances. Even before the playoff format was finalized, the SEC and the Big 12 had partnered to create a new Champions Bowl. Who out there was willing to commit to being the New Year’s date of the famous independent?

In yet another display of clever thinking, ACC commissioner John Swofford pursued the school that every conference would kill to get, but they approached Notre Dame at an angle. You can join our league and stay a football independent, he said, but you’ll play five regular-season games against our membership and — big key — you’ll be eligible for bowl selection as one of ours.

(There’s a caveat: Notre Dame can’t replace an ACC team in the Orange Bowl, though it could play an ACC team in the Orange Bowl. But Notre Dame could be chosen as the ACC rep in, say, the Chick-fil-A Bowl.)

In a statement released by Notre Dame, Irish football coach Brian Kelly said: “We have further solidified our future as an independent in college football, maintained our unique ability to schedule nationally and greatly improved our postseason bowl-game options.”

But if you’re going to play five games against one league every blessed season, why hold out as an independent? Why not go the full Monty? And here’s the other deft trick Swofford turned: He upped the buyout fee for anyone wishing to leave the ACC to $50 million. That’s up from $20 million, and that’s a cost no university can begin to pay.

This means Florida State and Clemson and Virginia Tech aren’t going anywhere. And the buyout, Swofford noted, “does apply to Notre Dame and goes into effect immediately.”

As of Wednesday, Notre Dame is tied to the ACC. If/when — and really, more “when” than “if” — the Irish realize that independence is to contemporary college football as the Pony Express is to communications, they have nowhere else to go.

At a media briefing in Chapel Hill, Swofford spoke of “a changing landscape in intercollegiate athletics” and then quoted Clemson president James Barker as having said, “What was best 20 years ago isn’t best today.” That applies to the ACC, which had previously balked at offering partial enrollment, and it definitely applies to Notre Dame.

Say the Irish choose, for no real reason, to remain a football loner: The ACC still benefits. Its best-in-the-business basketball profile — remember, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are on the way — is further burnished, and the league has also enhanced its reputation as the conference that cares most about academics. (Insert North Carolina joke here.) Better still, the league has played the greatest bit of catch-up ball since Frank Reich, himself an ACC product, engineered that epic Buffalo rally against the Houston Oilers.

With teams switching conferences at the drop of a $100 bill, it was once feared that the ACC would be raided and ruined. Turns out it hasn’t lost a school while poaching three from the now-dilapidated Big East. You wouldn’t have bet on John Swofford to emerge as the most dynamic force in 21st century intercollegiate athletics, but here he stands.

And for all who insist that Notre Dame is an outdated concept … no, it hasn’t won a national championship since the day Georgia hired Ray Goff as its head coach, but Notre Dame remains the biggest national name in a sport that still beats hardest to regional pulses. You won’t find many Bama or USC or Texas fans in the Bronx, but you’ll find Irish backers. (Hence the phrase “subway alumni.”)

There’s no conference that wouldn’t benefit from adding the biggest of brand names. John Swofford’s conference is the one that did. On the day he spoke of “a changing landscape,” he effected the biggest change.

By Mark Bradley

276 comments Add your comment

Goldenrod

September 12th, 2012
3:53 pm

FIRST! Bring on the Irish – we will destroy them like we do the puppies every fall!

Rudy was onsides!

Mark Bradley

September 12th, 2012
3:54 pm

Kudos, Goldenrod.

GTBob

September 12th, 2012
3:56 pm

FIRST!

Irish are over-rated.

George Stein

September 12th, 2012
3:58 pm

Second. Welcome to the greatest football conference in all of the land Irish!

Too bad you’re not bringing your hockey and lacrosse teams, we would have killed you guys.

HeluvaEngineer

September 12th, 2012
3:59 pm

Wake Forest-Notre Dame is a real David vs. Goliath situation, if David had killed Goliath four times in six years.

wes

September 12th, 2012
3:59 pm

As an ACC fan, I’d just like to say THIS IS GREAT!

Nobody thought we could do it. Especially every redneck with a pickup truck in the state.

Kudos to Swofford! Well played, ser.

StanRunAway

September 12th, 2012
4:02 pm

Why does the chicken run loudest by corners?

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

[...] (Here, as threatened, is the longer take on Notre Dame and the ACC.) [...]

Golden Domers

September 12th, 2012
4:09 pm

Hey Goldenrod – you don’t scare me – as a Smyrna resident I follow the Bulldogs as well as the Irish and I can tell you first hand you guys don’t even come CLOSE to dominating them each fall! In fact it is the other way around.

If I recall correctly, since Coach Richt has been at UGA they have won something like 10 out of 11. Put THAT in your TI Scientific Calculator and see what % you come up with.

Rally sons of Notre Dame, Sing her glory … Up!

GTBob

September 12th, 2012
4:10 pm

Unlink my imposter, I don’t think the Irish are overrated and I think this is good for the ACC. This is a good blog also, it may help the SEC fans understand things a little better.

BGaston

September 12th, 2012
4:15 pm

“You won’t find many Bama or USC or Texas fans in the Bronx”

Biggest Ala Alumni Association outside of AL is in NYC, whoops!
http://www.uanyc.com/about.html

George Stein

September 12th, 2012
4:15 pm

Why did someone steal my handle?

JacketsWIN

September 12th, 2012
4:16 pm

Well. RUDY WAS OFFSIDES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Albany_Jacket

September 12th, 2012
4:17 pm

Love the addition, Go Jackets!

ACC Forever

September 12th, 2012
4:20 pm

Mark,
Glad you think this will help the lowly ACC!! Your anti ACC schtick is getting old. Football power runs in cycles. By the way, I haven’t heard much out of the SEC media zealots about the Arkansas loss to UL Munroe. You guys can hype Missouri to be the next Alabama but when one of your SEC powers falls to earth, no mention of it. What did you have the mighty Razorbacks ranked, 8th?

The ACC will be fine with or without your support. Notre Dame is a fine academic institution that aligns well with the rest of the conference.

StanRunAway

September 12th, 2012
4:23 pm

Someone stole my handle. ACC is now THE premier conference in college football.

Paul Hewson

September 12th, 2012
4:32 pm

Notre Dame’s move to the ACC means nothing. Same deal the Irish had with the Big East. Wake me when their football joins a conference.

Al

September 12th, 2012
4:34 pm

ACC is so happy about getting Notre Dame. Only thing Notre Dame has is a little tradition, nothing else.
There football team is a joke every year but the media hypes them up and ND never lives up to it.
ACC is weak in football and getting Pitt, Syracuse, & ND is not going to help.

As for any SEC bashing check out the last 6 NC’s in football…..case closed!!

ToeMeetsLeather

September 12th, 2012
4:36 pm

Don’t really like this partial member stuff, but with the almighty dollar driving most college athletic decisions these days, I guess it makes sense. Maybe everything is in place to have Navy come on board when the NBC deal expires and the playoff system starts to form the first (16) member football conference. I guess you can add conference affiliation changes to the short list of givens, death and taxes.

Roll Tide Roll

September 12th, 2012
4:36 pm

Wake me up when the perennially overrated Irish schedule a football game against an SEC opponent BESIDES weak Vanderbilt.

GTT

September 12th, 2012
4:38 pm

Forty seventh!

So What You're Telling Me Is

September 12th, 2012
4:40 pm

Notre Dame will compete in the ACC in all sports but football. So they’re Duke.

MatthewH

September 12th, 2012
4:43 pm

I heard a point somewhere else about the location of the football games that ND will play against the ACC. Do we really think that ND will want to play at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham? Last time they played Maryland, it wasn’t in Collge Park, it was at FedEx Field. Will games be moved to Charlotte?

GeoffDawg

September 12th, 2012
4:45 pm

Good for Swofford but I’d say it’s a fair bet that most will still consider Mike Slive to be the biggest mover and shaker in college sports.

Harvey Updyke

September 12th, 2012
4:48 pm

Yet another Auburn loss Saturday against LA Monroe would be rock bottom, no bounce. Continuing the analogy, a win would be like grasping onto a shrub at the edge of a cliff, at least until LSU and Arkansas come along in subsequent weeks with their chainsaws. Until they develop some new weapons of their own, the Tigers and their coach are only hanging on for dear life. Not the same team without one Cam Newton.

Clay

September 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

Only the wuss conferences like the Big Least and the football challenged ACC would allow those prima donnas at notre dame to dictate their terms to be members of their conference. To be a member of a conference is like being pregnant. You’re in or you’re out. No toe in the water first. As long as ND has their own TV network, any AD or conference who schedules them in football plays right into their hands. Let them play Cornell or Fordham or Boston University in all sports. Who needs them?

Carlos

September 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

wake me up when any other school has it own TV contract with a major network.

ACC and notre dame win so its a good deal for both. Although made more sense to me for notre dame to join the big ten.

Clay Travis

September 12th, 2012
4:51 pm

Who said ANYTHING about Auburn? Chizik is a failure without sCam, plain and simple.

Now back to the topic of the Irish, the most overrated team in the long history of college football. When is the last time they competed for a nat’y championship? The 80’s? Sounds like a team in silver britches up in Athens.

Go Vols, beat them Gators!

MFranklin

September 12th, 2012
4:52 pm

For ND to willingly embrace the ACC… wouldn’t there have to be some natural disaster?

This concept is repulsive.

Lou Holtz's Retainer

September 12th, 2012
4:53 pm

I tune into NBC each Saturday for one reason – to watch the Irish lose – AGAIN!

Overrated {clap clap, clap clap clap}!!!

GeoffDawg

September 12th, 2012
4:54 pm

Hope it works out for the ACC but they need to keep in mind that there are potential pitfalls here that could make everyone miserable. 1) like in the Big 12 with Texas, the envy and jealousy that comes with treating one program as special and different than everyone else eventually takes its toll and 2) With their sweetheart deal and commensurate revenue, how long before ND tries to run the league and create a schism of haves and have nots ala Deloss Dodds? With the $50 million buyout, you may be chaining yourself to an unstable and unhealthy situation.

James Franklin

September 12th, 2012
4:55 pm

Stop hating on Vandy or I will punch you in the mouth!

We are the Georgia Tech of Nashville, ignoring the fact we started 2-0.

This ain’t your Daddy’s Vandy!

Rick James

September 12th, 2012
4:57 pm

@Tony Barnhart

This, more than anything, is Notre Dame trying to return to the college football elite by traveling the road of least resistance. By moving to the weak ACC and playing five games annually against the league, it all but assures Notre Dame’s longstanding rivalries with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue will be altered or maybe eliminated.

And what did the ACC get? The Notre Dame name—and the false perception that the ACC really is a strong, viable entity in the new college football world.
————————————————————————————————————————-
Thank you Sir…

Bobo

September 12th, 2012
5:00 pm

Okay, so the ACC may not be where the SEC is, but as a Tech fan, I DO NOT WANT Notre Dame. This is getting ridiculous. How many more schools are going to break any and all tradition in the name of prostituting themselves for more TV revenue. I dislike Notre Dame as much as the next Notre Dame hater, but that doesn’t mean I want to play their over-inflated, self-righteous, delusional program. There’s something to be said about having a rival WORTHY of being hated, rather than just being a waste of time on your schedule that could’ve been used somewhere else. Yes, I HATE UGA and I HATE FSU, but at least those programs are worth some respect. As for Notre Dame, they can keep their yankee noses held up high and stay up North, except for the once a year where USC humiliates them or they decide it would be a good idea to schedule a Southern school (like they did with us when they lost 33-3 a few years back). This conference doesn’t need another Wake Forest or NC State caliber (if they’re up to THAT level) football program.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Tim Brando

September 12th, 2012
5:06 pm

I think South Carolina is the sleeper to win the national championship out of the conference.

I think they are capable of doing it. This was a team that with a little bit of a break in scheduling should have and would have been the Eastern Division Champion a year ago and should be this year, but they have a tougher road than Georgia. If you tell me, ‘Give me one coach to win one big game in college football today,’ I would say Spurrier.

The question is – will he get Connor Shaw killed in the process?

GTBob

September 12th, 2012
5:06 pm

By moving to the weak ACC and playing five games annually against the league, it all but assures Notre Dame’s longstanding rivalries with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue will be altered or maybe eliminated.

Who exactly do you think Notre Dame is going to play in their other 7 games? If they were going to give up all of their rivalries then they would have just joined as a full member.

Old Tech

September 12th, 2012
5:08 pm

Will the 16th team be a strong academic school? The best remaining choices from an academic standpoint are Rutgers, Buffalo, Rice or Tulane. Not athletic powerhouses.

Born2Buzz

September 12th, 2012
5:10 pm

Now finish the deal and go get Penn State. That would be a sweet 16 for sure.

Mike Golic

September 12th, 2012
5:10 pm

If I told you about a team that had lost 10 of its last 12 bowl games, had dropped nine of its last 10 to USC, had led the nation only in disappointment, you’d figure that team would be halfway down the Mountain West standings. But Notre Dame still gets perks and love from the NCAA and BCS as though the year is 1946 – and now we join the WEAK ACC?

Mother Mary spare us!

dawgfan

September 12th, 2012
5:10 pm

Notre Dame has won a grand total of 4 bowl games in the past 20 freaking years. Yeah, this is real upgrade for the ACC. It looks like the same medicore half azzed crap we’ve come to expect out of the ACC to me.

pawleys island jacket

September 12th, 2012
5:12 pm

Bummer, the five game crap. They already play BC so about every three years or so they will play 4 additional teams per year so figure how long before each team’s turn comes up….several years!

Rudy

September 12th, 2012
5:14 pm

I don’t love Notre Dame football anymore. Notre Dame football has been living a lie, as Lou Holtz likes to say. Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, nothing happened. The echoes are in REM sleep. It has failed to advance the ball.

In Europe, if you play too much bad soccer for too many years, you get “relegated” to a lower division, moved down, demoted. It just happened to the Blackburn Rovers. Now it has happened to Notre Dame. They have been demoted to the ACC.

Can you explain to me how a team that hasn’t won a national championship since 1988, a Heisman since 1987, or more than eight games its last five seasons still gets treated like the 1967 Green Bay Packers?

GTBob

September 12th, 2012
5:14 pm

Notre Dame has won a grand total of 4 bowl games in the past 20 freaking years. Yeah, this is real upgrade for the ACC.

This may shock you but recent bowl records probably weren’t a major factor in the negotiations.

GTBob

September 12th, 2012
5:16 pm

They already play BC so about every three years or so they will play 4 additional teams per year so figure how long before each team’s turn comes up….several years!

They will play every team in the ACC every 3 years so if by several, you meant 3 then you are right.

Brian Kelly is the Savior

September 12th, 2012
5:18 pm

Wait, what? Coach Brian Kelly is the savior? Really? Because he looks to me like he’s doing a very good impression of Bob Davie so far. He’s opened with back-to-back 8-5 seasons. Wow. Give him a sitting ovation. Doing about the same job as Paul Johnson does in a WEAK ACC conference.

dawgfan

September 12th, 2012
5:19 pm

“This may shock you but recent bowl records probably weren’t a major factor in the negotiations.”

That’s not a shock to me at all. It’s obviously all about attention and hype. Funny how you ACC crybabies love to cry in your milk when the SEC is getting hyped. Then Notre Dame wants to join your league and you can’t HYPE it up enough. 4 bowl wins in 20 years Bob. What an absolute joke of a pile of crap football program.

T-Bone

September 12th, 2012
5:20 pm

Mark, if you are reading this . . . Any guess as to who the ACC will add by 2015-2016 to make it a 16-team conference?

ACC is WEAK

September 12th, 2012
5:21 pm

The ACC is already week and now they added the most overrated team in the history of college football.

What have the Irish done lately? That’s right – NOTHING!