Notre Dame is joining the ACC across all sports except football, in which it will remain independent per the conference.
For months, speculation of how the ACC would address rumors of realignment circulated. The Big 12 seemed its greatest threat, with unsubstantiated chatter of Florida State and Clemson leaving for the Big 12 invoking very real discussion. The ACC inked a new television deal in the late spring that fell somewhat short of the contract the Big 12 brokered, but Notre Dame’s presence changes the conference’s dynamic.
The opportunity for marquee football match-ups, even without UND as a full-time partner, exist. The Fighting Irish play Boston College, Miami, Wake Forest and soon-to-be ACC addition Pitt this season. The possibility of home-and-homes with Florida State and Clemson present marquee — not to mention lucrative — out-of-conference dates that might better subsidize each program’s athletic budget.
Notre Dame has no reason to consider joining a conference for football — yet. The university’s deal with NBC has been mutually beneficial. Sometimes overlooked is that the NBC deal is more than just television for UND. NBC also provides the athletic department with an exclusive web brand identity, and Notre Dame gives the network a flagship property.
NBC Universal is among the names rumored in negotiation with the Big East, however, the conference UND is leaving for its ACC membership. This is an interesting angle to follow as the Big East searches for a better broadcasting deal. Using its game as lead-ins or follow-ups to Notre Dame made sense for all parties, but how will UND no longer having an affiliation with the league affect its standing? Expect this to stoke the flames of anti-Big East rhetoric on a certain network.
Furthermore, UND is entering into a league with an ESPN deal. How that impacts the future for Notre Dame football is another intriguing subplot that could develop in the coming weeks, months or even years. The Big East had an ESPN contract while UND was an affiliate, and it had no impact on football rights. But the ACC’s deal is a major talking point of potential conference movement, and ESPN outlets have recently cast the UND presence in a disparaging light. The