Later today, Greg has a post about why Notre Dame's addition to the conference isn't a great idea. Meanwhile, I'm here to tell you why it is - you can decide who's right later on through a poll.
Don't get me wrong. Notre Dame having this much power isn't something I'm all that thrilled with. The fact that a school can not only remain independent in football, but reap all of the benefits of playing in postseason games drives me insane. Further, the fact that they can join a conference for other sports while doing so is even more irritable. But here's the thing: All of that's irrelevant.
The point isn't that Notre Dame should be able to get away with such things, it's that they can. Pitt, the ACC, the Big East, and all of college football have no control over it. Why does anyone do anything bad in life? Because they either can get away with it or feel like they can.
All of that being said, here's why the ACC had to take this deal - it simply means more money and more prestige for the conference. Now, maybe more than ever in history, a conference has a right to its members to make money and become a better place to be. The ACC did just that by adding the Irish.
For starters, adding Notre Dame means an increased partnership with members. As a result of the deal, the Irish will play five ACC schools every year. If you've ever been to a Pitt-Notre Dame game in Pittsburgh, you know it was one of the biggest draws of the season ... no matter the year. The Irish going into ACC stadiums is a big moneymaker for each school not only in terms of ticket sales, but concessions. And here's the thing - the cities benefit, too. Notre Dame travels well and the area hotels, restaurants, and stores all get a piece of the action.
The conference will also benefit financially in future media rights deals. Whatever side of the fence you're on, there's no disputing that having the Irish around means more to media outlets. When the ACC negotiates new media deals, having Notre Dame around will provide a big boost to each and every school.
It's also nice to have Notre Dame's other sports in the conference. The men's basketball team, in particular, has had some really good seasons lately and adds a bit more to an already stacked ACC. The women's basketball program has been even better and is one of the best in the nation, winning a national championship in 2001. The women's soccer and fencing teams have won national championships within the past three years. And the hockey and men's soccer programs have been in the Final Four in the past three years as well. Notre Dame isn't merely a football program - they're one of the best athletic institutions in the country.
Then there are the bowl tie-ins. Ah, yes - the big detractor of the deal. I won't sugarcoat the fact that I'm not all warm and fuzzy about Notre Dame taking bowl tie-ins. But here's the thing. Because Notre Dame ties into those bowls, the ACC will get better bowls to come to them in the future because they want the Irish as a part of the deal. And Notre Dame can only take those slots if they are within one game of the qualifying ACC team. In the Big East, they only had to be within two games.
Lastly, who's to say the Irish will never join as a full-time member? That may sound like a stretch, but if they do, guess which conference will be the best positioned to pick them up? The ACC.
in closing, there are many people that will say this deal only makes the ACC stoop to the level of the Big East. That's simply not the case. The Big East never received all of the games against their teams that the ACC will get. The Irish don't have the leverage they do to take bowl games from the conference. And if the ACC sends a team to the four-team playoff, Notre Dame can't swipe that spot or their best bowl thereafter - the Orange Bowl. In the Big East, the Irish could take the conference's best bowl after the conference's BCS bid.
Simply put, this makes sense all the way around. It'd be ideal to have Notre Dame join the conference for all sports, but this is the next best thing.