|Hood: ACC/Irish agreement is great....for Notre Dame|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 10:45 AM||
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Notre Dame announced yesterday that the Fighting Irish would be joining the ACC earlier than everyone had originally thought, and a headline on the Notre Dame website proclaimed "Notre Dame To Join The Atlantic Coast Conference In 2013-14 Season."
In the words of college football pundit Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.”
The Irish will indeed be joining the ACC a year earlier than expected, joining Syracuse and Pitt in 2013 and Louisville in 2014. They will be joining in basketball and baseball and women’s soccer and track and field several other sports. And I am sure those other sports will make fine additions to the ACC. I know that the women’s basketball team won the Big East last night and now sits at 31-1 on the season, and that one of the players on that team – Skylar Diggins – has over 300,000 Twitter followers, over 10 times the amount that Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
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That’s all well and good, but all I keep thinking about is that someone has missed the boat here, because this agreement helps out the ACC in many ways, but is heavily tilted towards Notre Dame. Why? Because football still isn’t a part of the mix, at least not on a full-time basis, and that’s a shame.
Love them or hate them - it seems there is no in between for college football fans when it comes to the Fighting Irish – Notre Dame is one of those football programs that is instantly recognizable worldwide, and having the Irish as a full-time member of the ACC would give the conference a little more credibility nationally, and a little bit more of the wow factor.
When ACC Commissioner John Swofford started coveting some of the Big East schools, he had to be thinking about Notre Dame first and foremost and with football in mind, and with good reason. No disrespect to Skylar Diggins or the Notre Dame fencing program, but when you think of Notre Dame, you think of Golden Domers, Touchdown Jesus, Rudy, the Leprechaun mascot, Gerry Faust, Tim Brown and Win One for the Gipper. Notre Dame has been and is, in many ways, college football.
And that is where the disconnect comes in, because a school hasn’t truly joined a conference and become a full-fledged member until football joins. The original ACC-Notre Dame agreement last September calls for the Irish to remain an Independent in football but play five games per season against conference schools, beginning in 2014. It will not play a full conference schedule, and will not be eligible for the conference championship. But it will become a part of the ACC's bowl arrangement (non-BCS).
I sat down with Swofford last May, and he admitted then that football drives the proverbial bus in college athletics these days, meaning that most of the money and revenue come from that sport. Swofford said that as much as 80 percent of the ACC’s revenue comes from football, and as the king of the conference, shouldn’t that be given first priority and taken care of, instead of this rather lopsided agreement that favors Notre Dame far more than it does the ACC?
This may come as a surprise to our friends up on Tobacco Road in their pretty little blue sweaters, but the ACC doesn’t make its money off the folks who cram the Dean Dome during basketball season, or the Cameron Crazies. The money in this conference is made off those football palaces and programs built by guys named Danny and Bobby and Frank, men who actually chewed tobacco and said “dagdum” and knew what it meant, men who built football powers in a basketball league, men who wanted nothing better than to pound those little blue sweaters into dust.
Those men blazed the trail for men named Dabo and Jimbo, who are trying to restore their respective powers to former glories, and they will be joined soon by another trailblazer in Louisville head coach Charlie Strong. Football reigns, and someone needs to let those powers-that-be up in North Carolina know that. Once the Big East started to disband, the ACC was in a position of power with Notre Dame, but instead let Notre Dame call the shots when it comes to the pocketbook.
Notre Dame President Jack Swarbrick, in a press conference when the deal was announced last September, hammered home the fact that the Fighting Irish wanted to “maintain it’s independence in football.” Swarbrick maintained that football independence was not only critical to maintaining a national presence, but to preserve Notre Dame's media arrangement, which "serves Notre Dame's independence." There was no talk between ACC and Notre Dame about Notre Dame sharing NBC revenue with ACC schools.
Yep, the ACC and Notre Dame are now married, but it’s merely a marriage of convenience for Notre Dame.
The only analogy I could think of was this: You have a middle-aged guy (the conference), who has gone through some life changes recently when he re-connects with the girl he had a crush on in high school. She’s the one he always wanted, but she always seemed just out of reach. However, she has also gone through some life-changes, and while she has added a little age and some of that former luster has faded, she is still very desirable. And shortly after they reconnect, he learns that she and her two kids and five cats are being thrown out of their house and have nowhere else to go.
He mentions marriage – he has room in his house, wants the companionship and she needs a place for her kids and her cats. So the two arrange the marriage. However, she then tells him that while it’s great he has taken in her kids and her cats, she isn’t going to share her paycheck. She will help cover some of the costs of maintaining the children and the animals, but hey, it’s her money! And, she also wants to “maintain her independence” and still hang out with some of her former suitors. She will be home a few nights a week, but the majority of the nights will be spent elsewhere. So she tells him, “I am headed out. Put the kids to bed. Feed the cats and make sure they are taken care of. Oh, and make my car payment. I will see you Saturday.”
And he takes it, because he really wants her, even if it is just “Facebook official” and a not a true marriage in any sense of the word. Makes sense, right?
Yep, makes perfect sense if you’re Notre Dame.
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