By now, you've probably heard that Notre Dame has decided to become the semi-regular Saturday night squeeze of the ACC, joining for every sport except hockey and football. ND will play five ACC teams a season and get access to the ACC's non BCS bowl slots. ND decided to make the move because they were worried about future scheduling in a post-BCS world, and, like most sensible people, they have some long term doubts about the health of the Big East. At this point, it would appear that any rumors of ND joining the Big 12 or the Big Ten have been put to bed for now. ND has a toothbrush at the ACC's house and they've deactivated their OK Cupid account. They're going to become a couple eventually.
As Big Ten fans, we should have seen this coming. If ND was going to join the Big Ten, they certainly had a chance before Nebraska (and even earlier) and it didn't happen, and Poet Emperor Daleny would have never let ND work out a similar friends-with-benefits scheme. Plus, the Big Ten is mostly a school of large land-grant, secular research schools, and ND is smallish, private, more undergrad focused and Catholic. Their arrangement is probably better for the institution, and I don't think many of us are upset that the league got Nebraska instead.
This move does potentially have some big picture ramifications though, and some of those do touch the Big Ten and Ohio State. Let's dig into them after the jump.1) Should the Big Ten ever need to expand again, their potential target list just got a whole lot smaller.
The buyout fee from the ACC has been hiked up to 50 million dollars, which just about locks everybody in the conference for the foreseeable future. Maryland has popped up as a possible B1G target from time to time, and Pitt, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech (ha!) have made the rounds on various internet boards as well. They're not going anywhere now, so that basically leaves Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, UConn, and Rutgers on the table (assuming we're keeping things geographically within reason). Now I know that Rutgers can bring in the mythical NYC MARKET (he who controls Rutgers CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE!), but none of those really move the needle much.
2) The ACC probably isn't done poaching from the Big East.
Adding Notre Dame gives the ACC 15 teams for everything but football, and 15 is such an awkward number. The three obvious candidates would be UConn, Villanova, or Georgetown. UConn looks to be the least likely, as they would have an FBS football team that would need to be accommodated (giving the ACC 15 1/2 teams), and Boston College has been down on a UConn addition due to BC's rocky exit from the Big East. 'Nova would give the ACC a Philly footprint, and Georgetown has a stronger history and connection to more ACC schools. Georgetown fans are already talking about a possible move, and seem resigned that the switch would be in the best interests for everybody. That move would unquestionably make the ACC the premier basketball conference, if it isn't already now; any of those three leaving could be the final Jenga block that sends the entire Big East tower to the ground.
3) Seriously you guys, the Big East is in trouble.
Let's take a look at the Big East's basketball lineup after all pending moves happen:
Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, DePaul, Marquette, Providence, St.Johns, Seton Hall, Villanova.
Louisville has been mentioned multiple times as a possible target should the Big 12 want to expand, and I don't think you could feel really confident that either the Cardinals or UConn are going to stay in the conference for the next fiveyears. For a conference that is relying on men's hoops to carry the brand, you'd be left with Memphis, Marquette, Nova, Cincinnati, and CUSA refugees. That's....not good.
So what happens then? The smaller Catholic schools have talked about bailing and forming their own league for a while. The A-10 is now huge after they added Butler and VCU. If the Catholic schools peace out and add a few of the A10/CAA schools, you may end up with an actual better basketball league, and a smaller one that allows for greater rivalry development (Nova/DePaul/Seton Hall/St.Johns/Providence/Temple/Butler/Dayton/Xavier/VCU/Mason/Drexel? That's a 4 bid league ,easy).
Even if that doesn't happen, losing another solid basketball program is a big blow to the stability of the Big East, which is about as stable right now as Greece's economy.
4) Notre Dame isn't going to be scheduling 3-4 Big Ten teams a year anymore.
Given ND's desire to be a "national" program, and given the demographic changes in the US right now, I'm not sure ND would want to do this past 2015, even if they didn't have an agreement with the ACC. It looks as though the Irish want to continue their agreements with USC and Stanford, so they can get a California game every year. They're also going to play Navy every year. That's 8 games right there. Fans have expressed an interest in playing a game in Texas, they have scheduling arrangements with BYU, they may want a MAC team; there just isn't enough games. Judging from the ND fan reaction, there doesn't seem to be a lot of desire to keep the Michigan series going. Northwestern has ND on the schedule in 2015, but that game could get bought out to make room for more ACC games.
Given the fact that this takes away a big chunk of ND's schedule flexibility, I bet it will be a *long* time before we see Ohio State on the schedule again, which is too bad. I've love to see the Buckeyes play Notre Dame. And by play, I mean "beat soundly".
5) The ACC/Big Ten Basketball tourney just got a hell of a lot harder. The Big Ten is a great basketball conference, but the size of the ACC (their worst three teams wont get a game) and the relative poor quality of the Big Ten's worst teams means that just about every team's going to get a tough OOC matchup at the start of the year.
Did I miss anything? Do you guys think Delany screwed up, or would you have been okay with an arrangement bringing ND into the Big Ten, but without football?