(Photo by Barry Cronin/Getty Images)
Notre Dame has joined the ACC for all sports but football and hockey. While it's a similar arrangement to what the Irish had in the Big East, this move increases the stability of the conference ten-fold and ultimately is good news for the conference and for Pitt.
Notre Dame will be playing an independent schedule, but five games will be against ACC teams:
"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," athletics director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement.
"This will enable us 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. We are immensely grateful to the members of the Big East, which has been a wonderful home for us the past 17 years."
It's unclear whether traditional rivalries with Boston College and Pitt will remain annually, but I wouldn't bet on it. Every ACC team wants Notre Dame to come to town, so I'd expect Pitt's series with Notre Dame to end when the Irish join the conference, whenever that may be.
(More after the jump).
For Notre Dame, it was about securing a home for their non-football sports in an area that produces their recruits, harbors their alumni and increasing their presence along the east coast:
The Notre Dame officials said the move will align the university with more like-minded schools in markets up and down the East Coast in which Notre Dame wants to gain exposure. Notre Dame had flirted with a scheduling arrangement with the Big 12 and joining that conference in other sports, but this move appears more logical than playing games in obscure Midwest markets.
"In any short-term way there's no financial benefit," the official said. "If we wanted to do something for money we would have joined the Big Ten. What it's really about is postseason play."
The official added: "It's a really good fit academically. There are sports that we're going to play, the non-football sports are very good and they're going to test us."
Not to mention that it's getting tougher and tougher to schedule as an independent with many conferences implementing a nine game schedule:
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."
Oh yeah, and jumping off the sinking Big East ship was another good reason:
RT @espnandykatz: Notre Dame wanted to be in a different neighborhood than the current schools coming into the Big East.— The ACC (@theACC) September 12, 2012
That's the official ACC Twitter account absolutely rubbing the Big East's face in the sand. Usually I wouldn't like that sort of stuff, but being that the Big East has taken to their Twitter account to mock Pitt's struggles, I'm ok with it. Notre Dame understandably didn't want to be in a conference with Memphis and Boise State.
As for the bowl lineup, Notre Dame could never take an ACC team's spot in the Orange Bowl, but it was confirmed that Notre Dame will be one of the possible teams selected to play the ACC in the Orange Bowl. Given the conference's new relationship with Notre Dame and the conference's relationship with the Orange Bowl, I don't think it takes much detective work to understand that an eligible Notre Dame will likely play in the Orange Bowl a lot. As for the rest of the bowls, Notre Dame can be selected over an ACC team as long as they are within one win of the next in line ACC team or are ranked higher. That's much better for the ACC than the Big East's deal, which was within two wins.
And what about the WVU fans took to social media to hammer rumors of Florida State and Clemson jumping to the Big 12? Yeah. Not happening now that the ACC has raised the exit fee from $20 million to whopping $50 million. That's an insane amount considering that it was just $12 million a little over a year ago. According to John Swofford, that applies to Notre Dame and it applies immediately.
The long and short of it is that no one is going anywhere. Pitt is in a completely stable home, with or without Notre Dame as a full member. $50 million is an impressive commitment to league stability. It was done out of necessity, no doubt, but impressive none the less.
Next stop, the ACC Tournament in Madison Square Garden.