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Notre Dame Joins ACC; What Does It Mean For College Football?


Notre Dame is set to join the ACC. Well, sort of. The Irish will be leaving the Big East to join the ACC as a partial member. Maintaining its football independence was crucial for Notre Dame, and this deal allows it to continue that, as well as join a conference with more stability on the football side of things. The Irish will likely join in time for the 2015-2016 season but could negotiate an early exit from the Big East.

As part of the move, Notre Dame will play five games against ACC teams each season and will be a part of the conference's bowl selection process.  

Notre Dame Joins ACC - What Does It Mean For College Football?

1. Notre Dame will remain Independent
The Irish have no desire to join a conference and this move solidifies their independence for the foreseeable future. Scheduling was a big concern for Notre Dame, especially as more conferences move to a 9-game schedule. However, this move provides the Fighting Irish with at least five games a year against ACC teams, and allows the program to keep its traditional games against USC, Navy and Stanford, as well as schedule Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue from the Big Ten. If Notre Dame wants to join a conference as a full-time football member, there’s no question the ACC will welcome the Irish as its 15th team and expand to get to 16. The odds of that happening anytime soon are slim, but at least Notre Dame has a viable option and has a perfect setup to remain independent as long as it would like.

2. The ACC’s future is secure
Remember those rumors about Clemson and Florida State joining the Big 12? Well, it’s not happening anytime soon. In addition to bringing Notre Dame aboard, the ACC’s exit fee is now $50 million. If a school really wanted to leave, that number could be negotiated, but it’s hard to envision any school coming up with $50 million to leave. The ACC is also expected to renegotiate its television contract, which should help boost the yearly revenue for all 14 football members for 2013 and beyond. With that hefty price tag, the ACC’s future is secure, and the rumors about Florida State and Clemson leaving for the Big 12 are done. Which brings up the next point…

3. College Football realignment…is it over?
Perhaps one of the biggest storylines out of Notre Dame’s move to the ACC is what happens with future realignment. The Big 12 seems to be content at 10 teams, but if it had any interest in luring Clemson and Florida State to the league, those hopes are over - at least for the immediate future. With a hefty exit fee, neither team will be leaving the ACC, dealing a setback to Big 12 if it wants to expand in the future. While this limits the pool of expansion candidates for the Big 12, it could help teams like Louisville, Cincinnati or even BYU if the conference decides to expand. We may see another round of realignment in the next five years, but with options on the West Coast dwindling for the Pac-12 and no logical candidates for the Big Ten, don’t expect to see any 16-team superconferences anytime soon.

4. The Big East isn’t going anywhere
While losing Notre Dame’s non-football sports certainly hurts the Big East, this does nothing to devalue its football product. The Irish played only one Big East team in 2010 and 2011, so it’s not like the conference was benefitting that much from having them involved. Notre Dame might have helped the conference secure better bowls, but the Irish were often selected over teams from the Big East in marquee games. Yes, losing Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Syracuse was a blow to the Big East, but the conference is bringing in Boise State – an annual top 15 team in recent years – as well as programs with upside: UCF, Houston, SMU, Memphis and San Diego State. And who knows, maybe the conference can give BYU another call to become its 14th football member?

5. ACC’s bowl prospects get better
One look at the bowl schedule for this year has a glaring question mark: Where does Notre Dame fit in? The Irish have no tie-in for this year, which had to be a concern for future seasons and helped to factor into the move to the ACC. Adding Notre Dame to the bowl lineup will only help the ACC when the next round of tie-ins is completed. The Irish are also a part of the pool to be chosen for the ACC’s Orange Bowl opponent. While there could be some frustration from some ACC teams when Notre Dame is selected ahead of them in bowl process, having the Irish should help this conference upgrade its tie-ins for the future.

by Steven Lassan

Follow @athlonsteven

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