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Notre Dame to join ACC as football remains independent

Sep 12, 2012, 12:09 PM EDT

Jack Swarbrick

In a move that’s long been speculated about, but never seemed imminent, Notre Dame has officially joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football. After being a member of the Big East since 1995, the Irish will now negotiate their exit from the conference. Only hockey, which is joining the Hockey East conference after the 2012-13 season, will participate outside the conference.

“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,” Notre Dame vice president and 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. We also think that the conference has a strong future under the leadership of its new commissioner, Mike Aresco.”

While the Irish football team will keep its treasured independence, Notre Dame has announced that they’ll play five games annually against ACC opponents in football. With the recent expansion of the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 conferences, this gives the Irish a scheduling base in a time where lining up future opponents is increasingly hard. While the Irish won’t be eligible to participate in the ACC conference championship game, they will have access to the ACC bowl games, while also keeping open the opportunity to play against an ACC team in a BCS bowl.

With the Big East adding football programs from all around the country — San Diego State, Boise State, SMU, Houston, UCF, Navy and Temple — to fortify its membership after losing Pitt and Syracuse, it seemed less and less like an institutional fit for Notre Dame. And while the Big 12 certainly courted the Irish and seemed willing to accept a similar deal to the one the ACC did, the geographical and academic considerations weighed too heavily in one direction.

“The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them,” Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins said. “With a mix of institutions – many of which are also private, similar to Notre Dame in size, and committed to excellence in research and undergraduate education – the ACC is an exceptionally good fit for us academically, as well as athletically.

“It is our hope that, over time, we will be able to explore the possibility of academic collaboration as well as athletic competition with these outstanding universities.”

For Notre Dame’s other sports, the move to the ACC is an unqualified upgrade. Basketball will enter one the traditional power-conferences in the sport, while sports like soccer and lacrosse will be forced to take a major step forward. The Irish baseball team, which has faltered after former head coach Paul Mainieri left to take over the LSU baseball program, will now play in one of the nation’s best conferences, hopefully a recruiting trump card for head coach Mik Aoki.

With a four-team playoff set to start after the current BCS structure expires, it appears Swarbrick has made his final move in the realignment era. Notre Dame won’t have a concrete set of ACC opponents, but will have future scheduling flexibility, needing to play each ACC school once every three years.

“This approach allows us to help promote ACC football while maintaining our traditional rivalries and a national schedule,” said Swarbrick.

The ACC is currently made up of Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC on July 1, 2013.

  1. chicagoirish23 - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Well…hello ACC. I know we are stil independent but how long before the pressue of realignment and the playoff structure forces our hand?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      The ONLY thing that would cause ND to give up their indepenace would be super conferences. If everybody shifted to superconferences, ND would probably have to give up their independance.

    • jimbasil - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:45 PM

      Independent in advertising only. We’re already there – just some leeway in scheduling.

  2. zorichmidriff - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Academically makes sense. Hope those five games are GA Tech, Miami, FSU, Va Tech, and BC.

    • dmac4real - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Reports are we will rotate and play each team once every three years. Sounds like a great plan to me. Itd be great if we could get them to come to the cold in November and see how they deal.

      • papadec - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:38 AM

        dmac – it gets pretty cold in Syracuse, Pitt & Boston. I’ll laugh if scheduling ever puts Miami and/or FSU in Cuse, Pitt, Boston & So Bend late in the same season. Matter of fact, I’m laughing just thinking about it – now.

  3. fnc111 - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Love the move.

  4. fnc111 - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    That schedule would equal 5-7 if you play USC and meat hicken. I like playing va tech and duke not Clemson and Florida state.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      OK…i’ll bit

      WTF is meat hicken?

      • seadomer - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:48 PM


  5. rollteal - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Why not Florida state and Clemson ?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Scared of their academic prowess

      • mtndguy - Sep 12, 2012 at 6:27 PM


  6. runners00 - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    It’s probably good for Notre Dame but it will destroy the Big East. And, it will likely lead to Notre Dame joining the ACC (or another conference) at some point in the future because these ACC schools likely will tire of giving away bowl appearances to a “nonconference” opponent).

    Academically, there are some ACC schools that fit the ND way of life more than in the Big Ten or in the Big East.

  7. gtizzo - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    The ACC couldn’t make a good deal. They got a bunch of appetizers and left before dinner was served. The ACC TV deal with ESPN looks good in a press release but when you get down to nuts and bolts it sucks. The deal doesn’t pay out a majority of the money until 2021. I’m sure every major conference will have signed a much bigger deal and the ACC we be left looking for table scraps again. ND is there hope that with 5 games annually they can get another bite at the apple. This is a win-win for ND and proves that the ACC is in just as much trouble as the Big East from a football stand point.

  8. idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Makes for a pretty crowded schedule when this “5 annual games” rule kicks in…

    Here are they scheduling contracts as i understand them. I believe these are accurate…

    Purdue contracted through 2021
    Michigan contracted through 2031
    Michigan State through 2019, except 2014/2015
    USC contracted through 2016
    Stanford contracted through 2019
    Navy is a guarantee every year, isn’t it?

    That’s six games annually to go with the 5 ACC games. I would assume that the 12th game would be a Shamrock Series game at a neutral site with a BCS conference opponent.

    • gtizzo - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      Plus don’t the Irish start a home and home series with Texas in 2015? Plus I’m sure the games with Oklahoma are home and home so Oklahoma would be on the 2013 schedule. Keith can you provide any insight on this?

    • nudeman - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM


      In terms of longevity, tradition and prestige, this is the way I rate/rank the rivalries.

      – NAVY: Not a great “rivalry” per se, but the ties between the schools are unbreakable and TRANSCEND FOOTBALL. Longevity: 10; Tradition: 10; Prestige: 6
      TOTAL: 26 (but they’re #1 because of what they did for ND in WWII)

      – USC: My earliest ND memory is the 1964 heartbreaker. Probably more great and crushing moments in this series than several others combined. They HAVE to play USC annually. Period. No debate allowed
      Longevity: 10; Tradition: 10; Prestige: 10
      TOTAL: 30

      – MICHIGAN: Great regional rivalry, right up there with USC, except in terms of longevity and late season drama.
      Longevity: 7; Tradition: 8; Prestige: 10
      TOTAL: 25

      – MSU: Fierce rivalry and great tradition. Say “1966” and everyone knows what you’re speaking about. But in the last 30 years they’ve been more of a b-ball powerhouse than football
      Longevity: 10; Tradition: 8; Prestige: 7
      TOTAL: 25

      – Stanford: Great school, blah blah, but they’re a relative newcomer compared to the others. No real great moments in the series, compared to USC, Michigan, MSU. I like playing them, but frankly they’re somewhat expendable in the new world order.
      Longevity: 5; Tradition: 5; Prestige: 6
      TOTAL: 16

      – Purdue: Yes, a wonderful school and a great in state rival. Sort of. But basically they’ve stunk for most of the past 40 years. Last great moment I recall (not counting Tommy Rees’ sister getting arrested at the Purdue game last year) was a Montana comeback and before that Clarence Ellis blocking a punt in a monsoon to set up a “thrilling” 8-7 win. Both were in the 70s. The 70s started over 40 years ago.
      Longevity: 9; Tradition: 5; Prestige: 2
      TOTAL: 16

      • seadomer - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Agree, love the first 3 on the list.
        As I mentioned is previous post, NOW what boiler fans, you can’t play ND, good luck in recruiting

      • chisports14 - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        The reason they schedule Stanford is because they play in California on odd years.

      • nudeman - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

        Here’s another way to look at the rivalries:

        USC: Frank Sinatra. You drop what you’re doing when this one comes on. If you don’t, well there’s that horse’s head possibility.

        Navy: Bing Crosby: Der Bingle have the effervescence or sex appeal of Frank, no one’s throwing undies at the stage, and really – how many times can you listen to “White Christmas”? But still … your momma and daddy loved Bing, and he played Fr. Flanagan. So deal with it

        UM: Think of Dino smoking a Camel, sitting with the Gold Diggers by the piano, and a wry smile that screams “I’ve had every one of them, Pallie”. No one made smoking look so cool. No one made ANYTHING look so cool. And besides, supposedly he was the only guy not intimidated by Frank.

        MSU: Shirley McClaine. Sings, dances, highly talented and you’d like to do her (as long as she puts a lid on the metaphysical shit and doesn’t bring her brother Warren around), and she can hang with the guys. Love Shirley, but slightly more expendable than the Frank, Dino, Bing and Sammy because she’s a she.

        Purdue: Joey Bishop. You let him hang around because … well, he’s always not really sure. Never really cause any big problems. Occasionally buys a round. And he knows Regis.

        Stanford: Peter Lawford. OK, there’s the Kennedy thing, but frankly not a lot else. Yeah, he’s cool and knows Marilyn too, so Peter … come on down. But don’t get too comfortable.

      • nudeman - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        couple editing errors on the above, but hopefully you get the gist

        Should be: “Der Bingle DOESN”T have the effervescence …”

        Should be (re: Joey Bishop) “You let him hang around because … well, YOU”RE not really sure …”

        Sorry. I take this stuff very seriously.

      • mtndguy - Sep 12, 2012 at 6:39 PM

        Nude, Do Shirley McClaine? Seriously?

      • nudeman - Sep 12, 2012 at 7:58 PM

        Talking about Shirley back in her day
        A babe
        Legs longer than the day is long

    • runners00 - Sep 12, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      I’m pretty sure that there are out clauses for at least some of these games. Hard to schedule 20 years in advance without an out clause with advance notice. Who knows? Hard to see no Michigan game. Hard to imagine no Michigan State game. Impossible to imagine ND without SC.

  9. raysfan1 - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    “meat hicken” is probably Michigan, not sure whether it was a lame attempt at a joke or bad typing or both.

    • c4evr - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      He meant to type ‘meat chicken’, which is still a stretch if you ask me.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 12, 2012 at 9:20 PM

        Yup, both lame joke and bad typing

      • 9irish - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        very lame…”Meeeechigan” is more appropriate (they even say it that way in A2). Meat Chicken?….I just don’t get that.

  10. raysfan1 - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Note to the person who commented that ACC football is in trouble–the ACC’s announcement about ND joining for basketball, et al, also included a statement that the member schools have upped the exit fees to 3 years’ worth of TV income. That’s currently a $50M price tag to bail on the conference. In other words, nobody is going anywhere. ACC football is in no way teetering on the brink of instability the way the Big East has been.

  11. raysfan1 - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    ACC is in as much trouble as Big East from a football standpoint? How do you figure? The ACC members have just adopted a new exit fee–3 full years of TV income. That’s $50 million to jump ship. Nobody is leaving the ACC, period. They are in no way like the Big East.

    • gtizzo - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      50 million won’t stop a team’s exit. Jumping ship to the SEC would make that 50 million back in 2 seasons on TV deal alone. It was thought the exit fee from the Big 12 was to much for Texas A&M…did it stop them? Plus once you get lawyers involved I’m sure there is wiggle room.

      • joeymagarac - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        I don’t agree. The current ACC TV deal pays about $17 million per school per year. You’re saying that the SEC TV deal pays $25 million per school per year.

        The schools are not banking this revenue and saving it for a rainy day; they are spending it on Olympic sports or on general administration. So a school that left the ACC for the SEC would see an increase of about $8 million (25-17) of money that wasn’t accounted for. At that rate, it would take about 8 years to pay off the $50 million exit fee and actually enjoy some of the SEC’s increased revenue.

        Also, my guess is that the ACC’s next TV deal will become more lucrative and more profitable for each school once Pitt, Syracuse, and now ND are accounted for. It may not be as lucrative as the SEC’s deal, but it’ll be closer.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 12, 2012 at 9:39 PM

        First, I second everything joeymagarac said.

        Now, add also:
        – Florida State, the school most commonly touted as likely to move, has financial issues and cannot afford to go 2 years with no TV revenue. The rumor of them moving to the Big 12 was hokum from the get-go because the extra $3M in TV revenue would have been more than consumed by the added costs for travel for all the other sports besides football.
        – They will not be invited to the SEC anyway because Florida opposes the move. Plus, the state chancellor likes the greater geographic footprint of having the state’s two flagship universities in separate conferences. FSU cannot move without the state government’s approval, and that isn’t happening.

        I do not know other schools’ situations as well, but none are at all likely to leave the ACC.

  12. irish2011 - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I love it! Our football schedule is going to be hard as hell! Our BBall teams benefit the most! Well played Jack, and we still hold our independence , oh I can hear the haters already! Lol

  13. seadomer - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    CFB Daily just spent the first half of the show covering this ACC move … and Dan Hawkins just stated our relevance … haha I think this is the first I heard this mentioned this season.

  14. mdp44 - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Today must be killing the ND haters, it’s been nonstop coverage on ESPN. Irrelevant?

  15. c4evr - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Hip, Hip hooray!!

    Now go beat Sparty…

  16. c4evr - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Oh, and behind Mike Brey’s smile, he’s crapping his pants. The ‘burn’ offense and a team built to battle Big East teams is in for a rude awakening.

  17. whodabigdog - Sep 12, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    What about poor Gino.He blames ND for the big east problems by not joining in football. Now he has thethe whole conference to himself because Muffet and Skyler wont be there to kick his winey but!

  18. seamus0317 - Sep 12, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Launch Stanford and Purdue. Keep the M schools, SC & Middies. Add the 5 rotating ACC’s. Find an east, Midwest, and west opponent each year to fill out the remaining games.

  19. buckeyeluvn - Sep 12, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Still scared of the B1G TEN

  20. wisner74 - Sep 12, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    This is a great move for ND, although personally I am not thrilled at the prospect of more games with schools the likes of FSU and Miami (not because they are football powers, but because I have questions about their priorities. In that respect I was disappointed with the NCAA violatons at USC, which I had always respected as an overall institution.). I also have a visceral hatred for all things Boston College. Very happy, however, to associate with Duke, UNC, Georgia Tech, UVA and most of the others. Pretty classy group.

    This is a big upgrade for us athletically and academically as well. I do have to say, however, that if we ever have to join a conference for ALL sports, the Big Ten is far and away the best option. But I’m worried that with this move a shift to all-in with the Big Ten becomes more difficult.

    • nudeman - Sep 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

      The Big 10 is yesterday in terms of football talent
      In case you haven’t noticed the southeastern US is where most of the premium talent is coming from these days

      Joining the Big 10 for football is the first step towards the regionalization of the ND football program

      • wisner74 - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:16 PM

        I can’t argue with the recent trends in college football. SEC is clearly dominant, but don’t role the ACC into your “southeastern US” generalization. Without recent additions to the ACC (Miami, FSU, BC) that conference has ALWAYS been regionalized in football. We’re helping it broaden its horizons, not the other way around. And, I’m pretty sure that the last non-SEC team to win the BCS was Ohio State.

        I’ve read your comments for a few years now and have frequently not only agreed with you, but also been entertained and even educated by your comments. I’ve only recently (since the Purdue game) chosen to participate. Never knew, though, that you were all and only about football. Care to check on graduation rates between SEC and Big Ten? I really don’t know; I haven’t looked. But I bet we both know what we’d find.

        Far and away, the Big Ten is the classiest of the major conferences when you look at the whole picture, and when you look at the long term. Who would you rather have the Irish rub elbows with: Michigan and Wisconsin, or LSU and Alabama? Not even a close question.

        ND is a midwestern school and it is very fortunate to find itself in the heart of Big Ten counrty.

      • nudeman - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:27 PM

        The point is twofold:
        1) ND has virtually nothing to gain by joining a conference in a part of the country (the Midwest) where they are already a prime time player. Joining a conference with tOSU, UM, MSU, IL, etc adds zero value. They already have a footprint in those schools’ backyards and compete on an even footing or better for talent. It would, I believe, reduce the value of the ND brand.

        2) My comments about the talent in the country in the southeast are specifically about football and specifically about states like FL, AL, GA, LA, etc; not ACC country. Again, don’t give a fig about b-ball. Would be happy if they shut it down.

    • ndfansince69 - Sep 13, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      You included UNC in the Classy group?!? Google their football program lately? That is by far worse than FSU, Miami and USC combined. Embarrassing scandal there.

      • wisner74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        Can’t argue with that. Horrible. And I thought that Butch Davis was one of the good guys. I guess I was looking at UNC from top to bottom, academically very good and many very successful athletic teams, including a few that are close to legendary — men’s basketball and women’s soccer.

        Current scandal is a huge disappointment, but I don’t think that puts the whole school in the Miami category.

  21. seamus0317 - Sep 12, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Remove all the automatic tie-ins to bowls and see how relevant the B1G 10 would be! Neanderthal football. Urban Legend will change some of the culture but 3 yards and a cloud of dust will define it forever. ND football is relevant but not at the forefront of the current landscape.

    • wisner74 - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:32 PM

      If all you care about is current football relevance, then I can’t argue with you. The SEC is where it’s at. I won’t concede, however, that the Big 10 is Neanderthal football. It has enjoyed plenty of success in recent years. But that’s not my main point. In the overall picture, from history and tradition to world class research universities to top-notch athletics, the Big Ten is the best of the six major conferences, and it’s where the Irish belong if we have to give up football independence some day.

      If all you care about is current relevance why aren’t you rollin’ with the Tide today? Since Lou left we haven’t done much.

      • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        I never used the word “relevance”. That came from you
        ND has ALWAYS been relevant in my eyes

        I have no love for the SEC, the schools, their ethics, or the states and their lousy climates
        Almost died once in Florida from food poisoning
        If the entire southeastern US decided to secede from the Union, I’d help them pack

        Having said that, there is no denying that the best football talent in the US is coming from the southeast these days. I don’t know why that is and haven’t read any explanations. But it’s generally regarded as the case by most people who follow recruiting for a living.

  22. buckeyeluvn - Sep 12, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    They havent been relevant since the 80’s. Only to ND fans. Oh…and NBC.

    • c4evr - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:08 PM

      now wait a minute, don’t forget the early to mid-90’s. After that… I got nothin’.

    • 9irish - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:39 AM

      Hmmm….that’s funny. Everybody forgets about the 34 years in between OSUs Nat’l Championships. Well there were a bunch of lost Rose Bowls and old coaches attacking players in between.

      Since 2002, scumbag players and being humiliated in 2 BCS Championships, and firing another coach that should have worked for Nixon.

      Stay classy, Columbus (in other words, STFU)

  23. wisner74 - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    Nudeman – I guess you and I will have to agree to disagree. First of all, we are only talking about the scenario where ND has to give up football independence. You would rather have ND regionalized on the East Coast because there is more talent there? We are not an Eastern school, and the ACC is not quite up the to the Big Ten academically, though certainly very respectable (for the most part). I believe that wherever ND would end up re a football conference it would be able to recruit nationally.

    You may argue that the geographic view of conference affiliations is no longer relevant given the recent upheavals. I believe that the strongest conferences are those that maintain a geographic coherence. The Big Ten, the PAC 12 and the SEC are clearly the healthiest of the conferences and all of their members are in contiguous states; the other three are less so. I think the ACC is probably fine, but the Big East will soon be spanning the country, all the way to San Diego St., and is probably going to explode one of these days. A year or two ago the Big 12 almost did explode, and now West Virginia is a member. None of that makes sense to me.

    There is more to this than just football. Overall, the Big Ten would be the best place to be if it ever came to an all-in scenario.

  24. norcalirish - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:18 AM

    Lol nude, well done.

    This move is still throwing me for a loop. Could be great for ND, as long as we keep the traditional rivals on the sched. Wall to wall coverage in the news makes me smile. Don’t take the “not relevant” bait, fellas.

    Now if they could only erase the memory of the shamrock series uniforms from my brain…..

  25. wisner74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    Sorry Nudeman, I guess the ‘relevance’ thing was in response to another poster. Regarding football alone and recruiting, I agree with you 100%. I also agree about the entire southeast, but I do have a good friend in Columbia, SC, and another one in Jackson, MS.

    My own theory on why the SE has so much talent has to do with the weather. Kids there grow up being able to play outdoor sports all year. Twelve months a year they can play sports that allow for a lot of running, jumping, throwing, catching etc., even if it’s just on playgrounds. Northern kids are limited to gyms at least 4-5 months a year. That’s why there is also so much talent to be found in Texas and S.Cal. I think you have the same basic raw material all over the country, but the weather gives those places just enough of an advantage to make a difference. This dynamic is especially notable in college baseball — not very many good northern teams. Also, contrast with basketball — primarily an indoor game on the organized level. If anything, the south and other warm climates lag in terms of producing talent there.

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