Brick em, Irish!
What better place for Notre Dame's non-football sports to be than the ACC? ACC basketball will outshine other conferences. Irish soccer and lacrosse will match up regularly against other national powerhouses. Baseball and swimming will draw from Florida, the South and East coast athletes. We increase our ACC football commitment slightly, keep our media options open, and choose the best match for our University's mission and goals.
The Big East had become a tremulous landscape. Despite our historical commitments to their athletics and to the many Catholic and private universities in its non-Olympic sports, Swarbrick rightfully determined it was time to move to solid ground.
The driving forces behind this move were: 1) joining a conference whose universities best matched Notre Dame's; 2) expanding our academic and research opportunities; 3) finding the right match for our non-football sports; 4) allowing the football team to maintain its traditional rivalries when so many universities choose to pursue more money; 5) geography.
I expect he long ago left the option of the Big Ten dormant with only one of their conference schools not a huge state school. As Texas and Notre Dame being courted a few years ago by most all conferences as the most attractive of any universities, partially due their status as the top two revenue-generating athletic departments, Swarbrick and Texas's AD, DeLoss Dodds, as well as the Big 12 Commissioner wooed Notre Dame for a similar arrangement as the announced agreement with the ACC.
Statements from ND, the ACC and reaction from the Big 12
Chip Brown from Orangebloods says this today:
"No one is going to say it publicly, but this is a bit of a surprise and a big disappointment," one Big 12 source said. "We thought Notre Dame would be able to pursue its own network in the Big 12 and be a great fit here. I'm not sure what Notre Dame is going to be able to do in terms of its own network in the ACC.
"But Notre Dame is a great school and you wish them all the best."
While the Big 12 would have matched up well in sports with the Irish and a few conference schools, notably Texas, had the very good research and academic achievements with which Notre Dame sought to collaborate, most of their members were also large state universities. Hopefully, the Irish will continue to play Big 12 members on a regular basis.
The ACC's joint statement by their Council of Presidents reflects their overwhelmingly positive attitude towards Notre Dame:
Notre Dame's statement reflects their happiness with the new move:
"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."
Not all commentators feel as most conferences and their Commissioners. Some like Spencer Hall are even able to compliment the ACC, display his ignorance over ND's goalss, and to shortsidedly focus his ire on the University's choice not to become a full-time conference member in football (link).
"As for the implications for the ACC, they are nothing but good. The football team may not deserve the brand, but the brand is what the ACC has tied to their own in this deal. Notre Dame football is highly visible, and with apologies to Rutgers, comes closer than any football brand to being the magical key to the northeastern football market."
For the meantime, the move also means Notre Dame gets to have its cake and eat it, too. It can maintain an ostensible independence in football and keep NBC TV money all to itself while simultaneously horning in on the ACC's superior revenue potential in football.
Hall's speculations on ND's goals amount to throwing darts at a board while blindfolded, though he really does not seem to care:
"Perhaps it wants a guaranteed pathway for any future playoff claims, which is ambitious. Or perhaps they just wanted what Notre Dame's always wanted: to do whatever the hell it wants, get football money while maintaining its status as an academic power, and be an independent getting its own deals while still belonging to a conference.
Laugh at them for wanting it, but right now that is precisely what they are getting."
Dennis Dodds remains bitter while proclaiming John Swofford, ACC Commissioner as "college sports man of the year":
Forget what you've seen on the field lately, Notre Dame football was about to become an outlier. Independence had its disadvantages. Because of its lack of football success and the changing postseason landscape, the Irish were on the brink of being squeezed out of college football relevance.
Everybody is happy -- the Subway Domers who cling to that independence like a security blanket. So are the progressives who saw a conference tie as the football program's best access to the lucrative postseason."
Rick Rielly's so far silence is most appropriate for someone advancing irrelevant positions on "Demoting the Irish."
Or perhaps Rielly read Frank the Tank's, "A Big Ten Guy's Defense of Notre Dame (Except for the Ed Hardy Uniforms), which resounded with logical and well researched information. Now that's a novel idea for a blogger!
Of course, the mere fact that so many people feel the need to proclaim that Notre Dame is “irrelevant” is de facto proof that they are very relevant. Sportswriters might take some time to review the latest hookers-and-blow scandal at Miami, but no one has written that the Hurricanes are “irrelevant”. When a whole host of power schools went through down periods over the past decade, including Alabama and Michigan programs that will be playing a massive opening weekend game at Jerry World next week, I don’t recall anyone complaining that they were still on TV too much or living off of their respective histories.
As for Notre Dame’s preseason hype, it’s Reilly’s employers at ESPN along with other TV networks that know that they get an immediate influx of viewers every time that they mention the Irish that are to blame there. Heck, Reilly is guilty of it himself since he knows full well that he wouldn’t have received even close to the same reaction if he wrote a column called “Demoting Miami” or “Demoting Tennessee”. I’d be more than happy if SportsCenter would stop talking about Notre Dame (and for that matter, a sub-.500 Red Sox team and our Lord and Savior backup Jets QB Tim Tebow*), but it’s ridiculous to see a media member shill blaming the school for hype that is entirely generated by the media itself.
Finally, Notre Dame is free to be independent. They shouldn’t be forced to do anything that they don’t want to do, including but not limited to joining a conference. As long as they have a TV contract and what they deem to be a suitable home for their non-football sports, then more power to them. There are plenty of other schools that would do the exact same thing if they had the ability to do so, but they simply don’t have that ability
Irish Envy? Knee Jerk Reactions? This morning's news may well elicit the expected Pavlovian reactions among some, especially those who profess their disinterest but accept their existence on clicks. But I really don't care.
Swarbrick and Jenkins have once again advanced Irish athletics with their decisions and the ACC is as ectastic to welcome the Irish. I can't wait to see Cameron Crazies, Carolina blue, Lane Stadium, fill Sun Life stadium with Irish fans, and match up with Syracuse or any of our future ACC partners in East Rutherford.
Here come the Irish!
Every publication from coast to coast will be reacting to this momentous news in college sports, but Irish fans' thoughts and reactions are the most important.