What Notre Dame wants, it gets. The Irish don’t need to be a football powerhouse. They are the Beatles. They are the Stones. They are Elvis. No matter how faded or how old or even if you think they are dead, we know them, and we either love them or hate them and they will always be relevant. They ask for, and they shall receive.
The Irish looked around, and didn’t recognize the Big East anymore. And looking at next year when they’d be making trips to a bunch of former Conference USA schools in the south and the southwest, they basically said, “No thanks.”
So the Irish will join the ACC where the conference is thrilled to have them. So what if it means they’ll have an odd number of teams. So what if it is now going to be a 15-team conference for all sports other than football. So what if it makes some of the current members angry. It’s Notre Dame, and they knocked on our door. No way you don’t invite them in.
The Irish conceded very little and got exactly what they want. Familiarity, recognition, and something to sell.
So the football team must play five games against the ACC. Big deal! Since 2007 they’ve played or will play this season: Georgia Tech, Duke, Boston College, Miami, FSU, Pittsburgh and Syracuse (both joining the ACC in 2013), North Carolina, Maryland, and Wake Forest. That is 10 of the eventual 14 teams in the ACC. Mandating they add 1-2 games extra against the conference per year isn’t making or breaking anything.
The Big East is limping. Badly. They may go on a sports respirator soon. The Irish didn’t want to deal with that uncertainty. The ACC carries more weight, and some of their old Big East rivals have already migrated there.
Certainly Notre Dame doesn’t have trouble recruiting, but it will be an easier sell to recruits of all sports, including mom’s and dad’s that you are playing Clemson as opposed to UCF. Or Maryland instead of SMU.
So in the end, the Irish keep their football independence and improve the outlook of their other sports by joining a better conference with more clout. The ACC gains a name, and the Big East continues to unravel.
It must be nice to have the “We’re Notre Dame” card to play when you need it.