ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported this morning that Notre Dame will join the Atlantic Coast Conference for all sports except football, and will play five football games per year against ACC teams.
Which some could construe as watering down the Fighting Irish’s football schedule, but I won’t go there. Oh wait, I just did.
Since all news is local, does this affect the Big Ten? No. If ever there was a serious flirtation between Notre Dame and the Big Ten, it ended years ago. Commissioner Jim Delany almost sounded dismissive of Notre Dame when the subject was broached by reporters in recent years. Not dismissive of Notre Dame as an academic institution, mind you, but of the possibility the school might reconsider joining the league.
Delany issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“Today’s announcement by the ACC that Notre Dame will join the conference to compete in all sponsored sports with the exception of football was not a surprise. Both the Big 12 and the ACC have openly expressed an interest in adding Notre Dame to their conference under such a condition.
“The announcement by the ACC is further indication that the tectonic plates underlying conference affiliation are still warm. As always, we will continue to monitor the landscape.
“We are very pleased with both our current conference membership and our conference structure.”
Oh, those tectonic plates.
The lone way this affects the Big Ten is it may knock down the number of football games Notre Dame plays against Big Ten teams. The lone Big Ten game that matters to America this week is Notre Dame at Michigan State. Next week in primetime, Michigan is at Notre Dame. Last week, Purdue played at Notre Dame.
Given their proximity, it’s unfortunate that Iowa and Notre Dame haven’t met in football since 1968, and perhaps never will again unless they’re somehow thrown together in a bowl game. But as Stephen Wright noted, you can’t have everything. Where would you put it?
The Hawkeyes and Irish played each other 24 times. Notre Dame leads the series, 13-8-3.
After next Saturday’s game against Central Michigan, Iowa will have played Mid-American Conference teams 21 times since the last time it played Notre Dame. That’s also unfortunate.
After it grabbed TCU and West Virginia to get back up to 10 members, the Big 12 indirectly let it be known that the only school it would truly be interested in adding would be Notre Dame. With blockbuster media rights deals with ESPN and Fox about to go into effect, the league isn’t going to be slicing the pie even further unless a new addition could make it worthwhile. Name someone who would be a likely candidate who fills that bill.
There isn’t anyone. Florida State and Virginia Tech are staying put in the ACC for sure now. That league made a great stabilizing move with its Notre Dame deal.
Notre Dame would have been a fantastic addition for the Big 12. But the concept of the Irish joining the Big 12 was always just that, a concept.