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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Notre Dame Listens

And here I thought that we had eluded the Sword of Damocles.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football at a date to be determined (by lawyers, no doubt). In doing such, the Irish actually listened to a request I've often made.

I'll remind you of that request here.

I've gone on record as suggesting that the Big East offer Notre Dame an ultimatum: All the way in or all the way out. Clearly, they are doing the latter. I'll be honest, I thought they were ours until we offered such an ultimatum, because I didn't see them giving up their football independence (they still haven't) nor did I see any other conference playing the fool as the Big East has for so long. Looks like I was wrong and the ACC's down.

That's not to say that this can't be advantageous for the ACC, or that it doesn't hurt the Big East. Still, the great white buffalo of Notre Dame football continues to roam free, though they have agreed to five games per year against ACC foes This either mean that Notre Dame's usual slate of annual tilts will change or that the ACC conference games will be the only piece to change year after year.

There are a couple of ways that this hurts the Big East. The first is that the Big East is in the negotiation phase of a television contract. While Notre Dame football is the crown jewel, there's no denying that they bring eyeballs to TV sets, so not having that chip when negotiating rights will likely hurt the conference a bit.

Notre Dame basketball, while exhibiting some success lately, isn't dealing the Big East a blow we hadn't already absorbed with the loss of Syracuse and Pitt.

The biggest power swing, in my estimation here, between the Big East and ACC comes in the world of men's lacrosse. ACC lacrosse is now even more stacked than they had been--seven of the last ten participants in the championship game will soon be ACC schools, including four of those five champions. At six members, the ACC is now truly a conference in lacrosse, and will have access to an autobid--not that they'll need it, as all six teams will likely make the tournament field. The Big East, however, having already lost Syracuse, will now lose Notre Dame and would be at risk of dropping below six teams if Marquette weren't slated to start the sport in 2013-14.This blow is huge to a conference that upon beginning conference play just two years ago, was slated to be a powerhouse.

And then there's the matter of the Sudler Trophy. Because marching band is ultimately tied to football, I never believed the Big East had any claim to it, and I don't think the ACC does now. Sorry, ACC, you'll have to court UMass, FAMU, or Western Carolina for that one.

All in all, yes, this is a loss for the Big East. But I'm going to stick to my guns and say good riddance. ACC, hope you don't mind getting  bumped from your bowl games as Irish backs go marching by.
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