With the announcement Notre Dame will join the ACC, Syracuse fans have to feel even more comfortable with the decision to leave the ACC last September. It’s hard to believe now, but this whirlwind of conference upheaval for the Orange is only a year old. And in those twelve months it’s become more solidified by the day: SU made the right call.
At the time, we all felt uneasy with the shredding of traditional rivals. SU would leave behind Georgetown, Villanova, UConn and Rutgers for Georgia Tech, Clemson and NC State? But as the plate tectonics shifted even more, and college athletics underwent massive overhaul, the move made plenty of sense. Now Notre Dame’s move is the icing on the cake. Here’s the top four reasons why:
- The Big East is no longer identifiable
Yeah, leaving the Big East tourney and MSG and Big Monday are tough pills to swallow. Until you realize just how difference the conference is now going to be. Yes, it’s a chicken/egg situation. If SU and Pitt don’t leave maybe West Virginia and Notre Dame stay, and it looks similar. But how does Syracuse taking on SMU, UConn battling Houston, or Villanova heating it up with UCF feel like the Big East? The fact is, with Notre Dame leaving the new ACC looks more like the old Big East than the new Big East.
Boise State, Memphis, Houston, SMU, UCF, Air Force, Navy, DePaul, USF, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Temple are now the body of the Big East. The old school conference powers still left (UConn, Nova, Georgetown) are now the precious few. What kind of value is there in staying in a league that is totally alien?
- The new ACC is the old Big East on steroids
Look at a potential ACC North division: Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame, Boston College, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Virginia. Those are familiar faces, much more so than the new Big East. In fact, it’s a much closer correlation to what type of school SU is. These are northeastern schools, some private, that play both football and basketball. It was always an untenable situation to have hoops-only schools trying to survive alongside football ones. Miami is an old football rival. Duke and Wake Forest (like “the U”) are private schools without huge state budgets. UNC, Georgia Tech and Virginia are public schools with high admission standards. There’s far more similarities for SU than what exists in the new Big East.
- Notre Dame’s addition stabilizes the ACC
We know one thing: The ACC isn’t going anywhere. The conference hiked up the exit fee to $50M. While you can never say never on price tags of college athletics, it makes it financially ridiculous for any conference (like the Big 12) to poach Clemson, Florida State or Miami. Without that threat, the ACC can now exhale and move comfortably into its new surroundings. Syracuse may have had some buyer’s remorse with rumors a few months ago that the ACC could lose some of its juice with defections, but now it’s a no-brainer.
It also makes the ACC as a basketball league, the equivalent (if not better) than the Big East. Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pitt, NC State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Wake, Florida State. Damn. Not a bad postseason tourney, huh? While many of these schools aren’t traditional hoops rivals for the Orange, any one of these match ups would make for a great game at the Dome.
Would the Irish ever join the ACC as a full time football member? Well, it they’re going to go anywhere it’s now gotta be the ACC. It all depends on the NBC deal. If Notre Dame can continue to have its own television revenue alto itself, it makes sense to stay independent. But with a potential move to 16-team super conferences or TV rights fees growing so gargantuan down the road that the conference windfall is richer than the NBC one, it would seem an eventuality. It’s just a matter of how long it takes.
- Notre Dame’s football brand helps everyone
Even if the Irish are not competing for the ACC football crown, five games against conference opponents each year is significant. The power of the Notre Dame brand can only strengthen everyone it’s associated with. One would imagine SU’s future dates at MetLife with the Irish will remain in tact and count toward the five contests. Great. SU games on NBC with Tom Hammond on the call is good for business. Even if it’s part of the ACC’s ABC/ESPN package those games matter. Notre Dame vs. anyone gets eye balls, and fills up stadiums.
With Notre Dame’s national presence, and strongholds in areas like Chicago, Boston and New York hopefully it’s another reason to play the ACC basketball tournament up north on rotation. If you’re Madison Square Garden, do you want the new Big East coming with its island of misfit toys every year – or the new ACC bi-annually? While the Big East tourney would still have teams in close proximity (St. John’s, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Nova, Providence), the sizzle would come from SU, UNC, Duke, and Notre Dame at MSG. The perfect compromise would be the ACC to rotate between Charlotte/Greensboro and NYC. The new Big East can rotate between NYC (when the ACC isn’t there) and El Paso.
Final word: This is a win for Syracuse, Notre Dame and the ACC
SU heading to the ACC may have been strange at first. But now, it’s completely obvious. It’s a much better situation for the Orange.