Apparently, the expansion dance in college football is not done yet, and in a sudden move, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame made a smart play to tie themselves to the ACC for everything but football and hockey.
Hockey was never an issue, as the Fighting Irish are slated to join the Hockey East division and now will be with conference mate Boston College in the longtime hockey league.
The rest of their sports now have a home, and for the ACC and Notre Dame, this is a big push to keep both sides happy.
As the Chicago Tribune reported, this is a move expected to be made official in both North Carolina and South Bend a bit later on Wednesday. However, the impact is already being felt as the ACC quickly moved to release the news:
"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," said Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. "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."
"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."
For the ACC, the value is clear. Get a big fish, even just part of a big fish, and the value of the league increases. Now, instead of just Pitt and Syracuse helping to expand inventory, the Fighting Irish are on the schedule in every sport to help draw eyeballs.
Yes, that includes football, as Brett McMurphy reports; Notre Dame is playing five ACC teams a season under the new agreement.
Notre Dame will join ACC as full member w/exception of football. ND will play 5 football games annually vs. ACC, sources told @espn— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) September 12, 2012
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While the Big Ten held its breath, the Big 12 hoped and wished and the Big East tried to hang on, it is the ACC's John Swofford who again helped galvanize his conference.
Five games a year against the ACC means his product will be on national television against Notre Dame for over a third of the weekends in college football's regular season. For away games, that means being broadcasted on NBC. For home games, that means getting to pack stadiums and see ratings jump on ESPN or ABC.
This is a big deal.
Notre Dame elected to go with the cultural fit in an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both parties. While it was the Big 12 that, very publicly, reached out to Notre Dame, it is the ACC that quietly got the deal done.
It's a win for the ACC and a win for Notre Dame.
Culturally, as we've talked about before here at Your Best 11, the Fighting Irish fit into the ACC. As the Big East expands, the Irish are dumping all-sports trips to the University of Houston, SMU, Memphis and Central Florida. Instead, they will be going to the University of Miami, North Carolina, Boston College and Georgia Tech.
It's a big move for both parties and a partnership that, with Notre Dame joining the ACC's non-BCS bowl package, should help raise both of their profiles from a competition, achievement and financial standpoint.