Greetings from Asheville, NC. My wife had a work related trip that I decided to make with her and I'm currently enjoying a tall Yuengling at Buffalo Wild Wings and reading about this crazy news going on in college sports! Yes... I'm that guy that I see at the bar every day and makes me angry because I have to do a show that afternoon.
I must say I am jealous of Jeff Zell from WBTW today, as he has got a ton of great news to get to!
Speaking of this news, this is big. This is big for Notre Dame and it's massive for the ACC. I know... you're thinking it's not that big of a deal because they are only a partial member of football. But you are completely missing the boat on this if you think that's what is happening here. First off, here is why this is a great benefit to both Notre Dame and the ACC. Then we'll mix it up with some thoughts on who the final piece of the puzzle will be:
Why this is great for Notre Dame:
The easy answer is, the Big East is currently on life support. Notre Dame needed to be a part of a stronger conference to keep up its level of success. I thought the Big Ten made the most sense (Jim Delaney has got to be furious with the news he woke up to this morning by the way) but the ACC did make sense as well. From an academic standpoint it's a good fit, plus Notre Dame is a national commodity. They can be part of any conference and with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse the ACC made that much more sense from a regional perspective. But here's the big reason Notre Dame needed to move...
The NCAA Playoffs are going to expand either via the NCAA or the conference will take it in their own hands. The NCAA will make double the money on the a 4-team playoff than it did in the entire bowl system. What does that figure go to with 8-teams? Or if they stay at 4-teams the conference could create their own national quarterfinal and make being a conference champion a critical component.
Weather you like it or not we are heading the direction of 16-team super conferences. Two eight team divisions and the championships can serve as either a national quarterfinal with 4 super conferences, or it will be a guarantee for the 4 champs to be in an 8-team playoff and then the losers are sweating it out that they get at large bids. So which conferences will get to 16 the quickest? Yesterday it was the ACC and SEC were the closest, and the Pac 12 is waiting to make its move with lots of options available including independent BYU who was so angry they did not get invited to the Pac 12 along with Utah they decided to leave everybody and go independent. Basically they told the Pac 12 instead of going to the prom with a dud, they were going to just sit at home and wait on their phone call.
Of those three conference, which one made the most sense for Notre Dame? The answer to this is very easy. There was never a thought of going to the SEC or Pac 12 for Notre Dame.
Why this was brilliant for the ACC?
Gosh this is kind of easy, right? You take one of the 3 teams who have national prominence (Alabama and Southern Cal are the other two) and make them part of your conference. AND you make them a partial member in football, something they have never committed to before. Meaning when the 16 team expansion comes and there's an auto bid into the national playoff for the winner... Notre Dame instantly becomes a full member without paying any exit fees to the Big East or anyone else.
The ACC also recently increased its exit fee to a whopping $50 Million. With the addition of Notre Dame and that exit fee, Florida State and Clemson are not going anywhere.
And the ACC is the only conference in America that can stage tournaments and championship games in anyone of the following cities:
Charlotte, Washington D.C., Atlanta, New York, Tampa Bay or Chicago. That is absurd financially for the conference.
The Final Point and Question that needs to be answered
This all leads to my final point and question... who is #16? The ACC has to go to 16 teams and it's going to happen pretty quick. You don't have a 15-team basketball tournament. Scheduling will be a night mare. And now with Notre Dame the ACC has the ability to go after anyone they want in the country. Forget about that little map showing only Atlantic Coast states. The ACC is seeking national prominence and they have the ammo to go into any University Board of Directors meeting and make a convincing argument. Or do the Board of Directors start approaching them?
Texas is my first thought. They had issues in the past in the Big 12 with the Longhorn network and they would love to be paired with Notre Dame. They've made no secret about that and Texas and the ACC were thrown around once before.
Ohio Stat is a thought. With the Big Ten not able to secure Notre Dame, and Penn State in an absolute free fall could Ohio State be looking to align itself with the first super conference?
Could the ACC raid the powerful SEC? South Carolina makes a ton of sense and secures the continuity of the in state rivalry match up with Clemson. For the same reasons Georgia and Florida are a possibility. Half the SEC is in the central time zone now and they may be focused on adding more of the state of Texas, or someone out of Oklahoma or Kansas. Doesn't the ACC make sense for a USC, Georgia or Florida team that wants to keep its regional ties?
Prepare for the next round and what may be the final round of conference expansion. If the NCAA is only going to create a 4-team playoff, then the conferences will step in and create a defacto quarterfinal weekend of conference championship games. That makes the panels job really easy.