Notre Dame yet again get its way. They get to move to one of the marquee conferences, and they can continue to keep their football independence and their NBC contract. The only thing they have to do is play five football games per year against ACC teams; which ACC teams it will be against has not been announced yet. I think the two-year hiatus with Michigan is now even less surprising; they don’t want to have too tough of a schedule with the addition of the ACC teams, otherwise they might not win more than 7 games. This two-year gap will give them a chance to play some of the bigger conference teams, such as Florida State and Clemson.
Previously, Notre Dame was in the Big East for all sports except for football (and hockey), but they had been looking to move out to a better conference with more money. The Big Ten had offered Notre Dame a spot twice (once in the 90s and once before Nebraska), but they were never going to accept it because the Big Ten was requiring them to move football as well. Notre Dame wanted to keep their “historical” football independence, but more importantly their separate contract. Notre Dame cannot leave the Big East for 27 months, or they have to pay a $5 Million exit fee. My guess is that Notre Dame will pay the money to join next year. The reason for the hurry? The ACC gets a new TV contract in 2014, and they can get a new NBC contract in 2015.
All conference realignment is money driven; shocking I know. Notre Dame is making this move for more money, and also because the Big East has been gutted and is becoming even more of a clown conference. They don’t want to be a part of a conference that has San Diego State, Houston and so on. They believe that they are above that, and they know that the next contract the Big East gets will be far less than what the ACC will get them. The ACC is now a basketball powerhouse, taking that title away from the Big East, along with their most marketable team.
What does this mean for future realignment? The ACC now has 15 teams, meaning the next step is for the major conferences (Big 12, Big 10, SEC, ACC, Pac-12) to expand to 16 teams or more, and create massive super conferences. I wouldn’t expect this to happen anytime soon, but it is most definitely the next step in the process.