September 12, 2012

Anyone remember this?

“I don’t understand it,” Jack Swarbrick said as a new round of conference hopping in college athletics moved into high gear Sunday. “How do you vote as a collegiate president on something that has the potential to provide some benefit for your institution and the conference you’re affiliated with but has a very negative consequence for a host of other members of the academy, as presidents like to call it?

“I’d like to know how much of these discussions are: What’s right? What is the best thing for the larger enterprise, and how many other schools would be adversely impacted?

“I just don’t know that that’s happening.”

Yes, the ND AD complaining about the selfish behavior of Pitt and Syracuse moving to the ACC. He and his institution are so far above such crass things. They would never make a move out of no where without giving their present partners a fair notice. Notre Dame’s president put his money-where-Swarbrick’s-mouth was. Why, Rev. Jenkins even headed up the Big East expansion committee. So you know they wouldn’t act against the best interests of the Big East while helping to make big decisions.

Oh, what’s that?

The University of Notre Dame accepted an invitation today (Sept. 12) to become a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in all sports except football.

That exception for football was even in the sub-headline of the press release, “Football to stay independent but will bring five games annually to ACC.”

Even as I type this, there is a presser going on on UNC’s campus where the President and AD of Notre Dame are there with ACC honchos trumpeting the move. I’m sure you were nice enough to let the Big East offices in Providence know about this weeks in advance.

I’m surprised. I didn’t see this coming. At least not this quickly. I figured this would be a slow dance of a couple years before this took place.

The key part of this is getting ND to guarantee five ACC games a year. As I have — and others  as well — this is relatively easy for ND considering their long history with BC, Cuse and Pitt. From what I understand, though, the agreement is that the Irish will have to play all of the ACC teams within a set time frame. That means it is likely that Pitt-ND will continue, but not uninterrupted.

Not surprisingly, ND fans are happy with the move. Even if they have to play five whole games against the ACC.

The issue moving forward was always going to be finding a way for Notre Dame to always have a tough enough schedule in the coming Era of Playoffs to garner support to the big dance. Swarbrick has done a good job maintaining and strengthening the ND football schedule, but he still faces a lot of issues and problems filling out an independent schedule.

Now, he’ll be locked into 5 games in the ACC (the rumor is that ND will play every ACC team once every 3 seasons) and that will give him time to focus on filling out the final 7 games on the schedule.

And when you look at it like that…7 games is nothing to sneeze at. It leaves room to keep most of Notre Dame’s traditional rivalries and seek out a couple “new” games outside of the usual suspects.

The Big East and ND had an informal agreement where the Irish would play a few Big East teams every year. The difference, was that ND got to choose and work it out. So, easy for Pitt. But with UConn, the Huskies had to agree to their “home” game taking place in Foxboro, Massachusetts. And the Rutgers series fell apart because Rutgers insisted on playing at their real home stadium, not the Medowlands.

This is in the contract and the games will be scheduled. In that respect it is something of a significant step for ND.

In fact, it seems that those five games were important to help ND with scheduling.

As other conferences grew in size – the SEC expanded to 14 teams, the Pac-12 and Big 10 went to 12 – so too did the threat that the Irish couldn’t just pick and choose opponents, especially in October and November, as they always have. The other conferences might go to nine league games (as the Pac 12 already does), eliminating one slot for a tough non-conference opponent. Earlier this year, the Big Ten and Pac-12 set up a scheduling agreement that concerned Notre Dame – although it later fell apart when the Pac-12 pulled out.

Notre Dame currently must schedule all of its 12 games per year. This drops to seven games with the ACC scheduling the other five. ACC teams will likely be featured during the more challenging dates later in the season. It’s a far easier task.

“People don’t realize how difficult it is,” the source said. “The outlook was very challenging. If the Big Ten does move to a nine-game league schedule down the line, and it could be 10 years from now, can we still count on getting Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan all in a row? And late October and November kept growing tougher.”

I’m not wild about this. I wanted no more partial memberships. I get the argument that this more formal football arrangement will be more likely to pave the way for full membership. But, I don’t buy it. It will still take years before the ND base would tolerate the move.

As with the Big East, the Irish now have access to ACC bowls. This despite also being part of the roster to possibly play the ACC Champ in the Orange Bowl. The Irish will have the potential to leapfrog ACC teams. If the Irish are within one win of the ACC team, the bowl can pick the Irish. Can’t wait for other schools to get that experience.

Yet, even that is a slight improvement over the Big East deal. In the Big East, the Irish only had to be within two wins of another school to be selected over them.

Two other things of note. Getting ND, and the guaranteed 5 games means yet another tweak to the ACC TV  Deal. Roughly projected at another $2 million per school.

More importantly, from the ACC press release. This:

In addition to extending an invitation to Notre Dame, the Council of Presidents voted to increase the conference exit fees to three times the annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of over $50 million.

[Emphasis added.]

Huge. That’s a tremendous stabilizing force on the conference. The $20 million exit fee was prohibitive enough. This puts an end to things when it goes into effect.

Now the bigger deal

Houston Panther:
Fellow Houstonian here who agrees with you.

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.12.12 @ 10:25 pm

@ thestumper, “Wonder who will play Scary Jerry?”
Christopher Walken”, That’s a good one. I loved Walken in that classic “The Deer Hunter”, which was filmed in Pittsburgh.

What do you think the title of the Sandusky Pedo State movie will be?

Maybe, “The Queer Hunter”. LOL

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.12.12 @ 10:40 pm

Spindler’s Sprint’s question is spot on: Will the 50m exit fee apply to ND? The devil is in the details as always. If it does it is unlikely that they will go trillying off (not even sure trillying is a word but I like it in this context) to the Big 10 or elsewhere when offered a sweet deal at some point in the future. This also would make it far more favorable for them to join the ACC in football when and if membership in a football conference becomes in their best interest. It will be fascinating to get the whole story and to watch this situation unfold in the weeks months and years ahead. We do know that ND is very good at taking care of its own business and that the ACC leadership has more capabilities and more institutional power behind it than the BE ever had. HTP for hooking up with a bunch of competent and smart people/institutions. Let’s hope this deal is a win win and no one got snookered.

Comment by opfim 09.12.12 @ 10:51 pm

@ TonyinHouston, I had a feeling that Chryst would be getting Pitt some national attention early on, just not in such a BAD way, yikes!

Well, Coach Chyst intended to let his actions speak for him, so far he seems to be dealing with a persistent case of laryngitis.

After one more week of Tino taking a beating both from VA TECH as well as his own usual self imposed punishment, hopefully then Coach will bench Sunseri and opt for some new blood at QB. That should help him get his voice back because that WOULD be a bold dramatic action to his credit.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.12.12 @ 11:01 pm

Look back about two months Chas and Reed and you will find someone on here that said ND BOT took a straw vote for move to ACC.

Second, the $50M was a key negotiation agreed to by all schools. Don’t be overly confident that the sum prohibits all teams from still moving. These conferences may take on 1/2 of an exit fee or more to get their team. That said, it would take a lot of balls for an AD to put that option out to the BOT.

Third, the ACC is somewhat hosed for further expansion under this model. There are 15 schools for all sports except football. To get to 16 teams in Bball and all other sports, the newest member couldn’t have a FBall team because it would create an 8 and a 7 team conference, which is impossible from a scheduling standpoint. Opens up for a Villanova or G’Town if the ACC goes that direction.

I do think the ACC could have made a more seroius push for full membership, but it is hard to play chicken sometimes. I do expect ND to be a full member in 5 years so long as ND does not contend for a national championship in that timeframe. The luster is wearing off the program and NBC knows it. Viewership is down, but for now they will take a slight financial hit to say they own the rights!That may not be the case in a couple of years.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 09.12.12 @ 11:01 pm

Brilliant! Muahahahahaha!

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Digdug 09.12.12 @ 11:06 pm

crap…..need to be more succinct!

As far as scheduling, I would not schedule WVU or Penn State. WVU is on an island with their closest conference competition over 700 miles away. For recruiting purposes, keep them on that island. Make it more painful for the kids who pick the number one party school over academics to play close to home.

Penn State, I just wouldn’t play them. They are another school on the outskirts of their conference footprint. Isolation is what they deserve. That said, I would expect PSU and WVU to start playing with each other (emphasis added). What a bunch of inbreds that would spawn! As many young men in West Virginia express every June, “Happy father’s day uncle bob”.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 09.12.12 @ 11:07 pm

College athletics is a big money chess match with multiple players. This move sets the board for the next move.

First there will be better football bowl opportunities for ACC teams.

Basketball, well OMG what a conference.

Finally, there are 15 and one day there will be 16. UCon. Rutgers and Louisville will try, but don’t be suprised to see PSU look for a fresh start back in the east.

Comment by end of an era 09.13.12 @ 6:00 am

Notre Dame will eventually join. The only thing keeping them back is the desire to play Michigan, Michigan St, USC, navy, purdue, army, and Stanford every year so they can recruit California, the Midwest, ny, and Baltimore dc area. If only 3 conference games they would lose 4 of those 7 opponents. I think the reality that they are not special is setting in, it took 30 years but hey it took Penn state 50 so I guess nd is progressive.

Comment by John 09.13.12 @ 6:39 am

Coach chryst response to nd deal–“neat”

Comment by John 09.13.12 @ 6:40 am

Interesting quote from Pedersen in the PG today:

Pederson also said Notre Dame is locked in to becoming a full member of the ACC if it ever decides to give up its independent status.

“That’s a big part of this,” he said.

link to

Comment by KeyboardKev 09.13.12 @ 8:00 am

Notre Dame’s contract with NBC expires at the end of the 2015 season. That contract is their lifeline to independence. If NBC doesn’t renew – and the ratings have been weak at best so why should they – ND will become a full ACC member.

Comment by Pitt Dad 09.13.12 @ 8:18 am

Question about ND and bowl tie-ins: Does anyone know/remember if there were rules about how often ND could “leap” another team for a bowl? I seem to remember there being some sort of rule like that with their Big East agreement, but maybe it was for a specific bowl?
And if so, I wonder does the ACC deal contain that language/agreement.

Comment by JW 09.13.12 @ 8:34 am

@JW, in short form, the answer is yes. Don’t know the details, but, from what people were saying yesterday, there is a bowl provision of some kind for them. Something about they have to be within 1 win, not 2 like in the BE.

Comment by Dan 09.13.12 @ 9:20 am

[…] with me to do a little Q&A exchange. I sent him my questions on Tuesday night, right before the latest round of expansiopocolypse hit — rendering some of my questions a little dated even before the responses came. My answers to […]

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