Notre Dame Makes Conference Move
Notre Dame Makes Conference Move, The Fighting Irish are making a big move by leaving the Big East for the ACC. Notre Dame protects treasured football schedule in move to ACC, As the plate tectonics of conference realignment played out over the past couple of years, Notre Dame’s fierce determination to keep its football program independent faced a recurring threat.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick huddled over and over with his staff and tried to play out how the Irish would fill out their 12-game schedule in the years and decades to come, a Notre Dame source said.
That, more than any other factor, led to Wednesday’s announcement that Notre Dame would join the ACC in all sports except football, according to the source. The agreement stipulates Notre Dame plays five football games per year against ACC opponents, but not compete for the league title and play eight games, as a full member would. That provides the Irish with the firm scheduling base it coveted while maintaining the freedom to maintain a national schedule.
As for the ACC, the compromise allows its football programs access to a major brand that sells tickets and delivers TV ratings. It will also allow ACC commissioner John Swofford to seek additional compensation from the league’s current long-term deal with ESPN, according to an ACC source. That deal has been criticized in league circles for not delivering enough revenue.
Previously the Irish were Big East members in all sports except football, allowing it a footprint in the Northeast, where many of its alums live. The weakening, and nationalizing, of the Big East made it easier to leave, as did former league members Pittsburgh and Syracuse heading to the ACC next season.
It wasn’t as important as football scheduling, though. In fact, nothing was.
While the Irish cherish that its football team has never joined a conference, the ability to play a bold, flexible and national schedule, while keeping a deal with its own television partner (NBC), was more important than maintaining full independence. It wouldn’t mean as much if the opponents grow weaker.