Realignment Today: What Notre Dame's move to the ACC (in everything but football and hockey) means for the Big 12

Today’s announcement that Notre Dame will move its non-football sports to the ACC has sent a large faction of Big 12 fans into a frenzy.

Although I understand why this is the case on the surface, I’m not so sure the announcement is worth getting worked up about.

For starters, it seems as if Notre Dame joining the Big 12, either entirely or as a partial member, was a longshot to begin with. There were talks and those talks were extensive, but I’ve been told that there was never a strong indication that the Fighting Irish, as things stand today, were ever really that interested in joining the Big 12.

The reasons for that are plentiful and include everything from academics and athletics to Notre Dame’s desire to maintain control.

As part of the agreement to join the ACC, Notre Dame will play five football games against ACC opponents annually but will continue to operate as an independent, which has been the school’s goal all along. That set-up is not a huge departure from what the Irish have done lately anyway. Just look at this year’s Notre Dame football schedule which includes Miami, Boston College, Wake Forest and Pitt, all schools that are in or will be in the ACC by the time Notre Dame joins.

In maintaining its independent status, the Irish not only will be able to continue their relationship with NBC, but also should be able to continue healthy rivalries with schools such as Navy, USC, Michigan State and others.

It’s a good move for the Irish and an even better move for the ACC. Looks like a win-win for both sides and, whenever that’s the case, it’s certainly hard to argue.

But enough about Notre Dame. What does all this mean for the Big 12?

In my mind, the answer to that is simple — the Big 12, as it has said for quite some time, will be staying at 10 teams for a long, long time.

There was some genuine interest in adding schools like Notre Dame or Florida State, but with those schools now off the table thanks to Notre Dame’s move to the ACC and the ACC’s simultaneous announcement that its exit fee would be increased to $50 million, those schools, along with Virginia Tech, Clemson and others now look to be off limits.

Quick sidenote: I can’t help but be mightily impressed by what the Big 12 and ACC have done in consecutive years in the face of uncertain and very dangerous futures. The Big 12 looked all but dead a year ago yet found a way to bounce back and flourish both in terms of its financial situation and its public image. Shortly after the Big 12 became more stable than ever, the ACC took its place on the chopping block and appeared to be equally as vulnerable, if not more so. Yet, here that conference is today, announcing the addition of Notre Dame and securing its future by agreeing to up its exit fee to an amount that no one would dare tangle with. Impressive.

And hopefully, just maybe, their moves can put an end to conference realignment for the foreseeable future. I won’t hold my breath on that, though.

The Big East, which has been in a tough spot all along, now becomes the most vulnerable league by far, with the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC all positioned to pick up any number of Big East defectors should it come to that. Maybe it won’t. But if the Big 12 were to make a move to expand, that’s likely where it would look.

Again, I don’t expect that to happen. I don’t think the remaining schools “out there” are impressive enough nor profitable enough for the Big 12 to want to bring them in to split the pie 12 ways instead of 10. It just doesn’t make sense to bring in schools for the sake of bringing them in when the schools you’re picking up don’t add much to the pot.

Louisville, UConn and even Rutgers all are intriguing options for various reasons, but neither of them is on par with the Notre Dames and Florida States of the world. And Big 12 leaders have said all along that it would take a special school for them to consider expanding. I don’t think the schools I mentioned above are considered special by anyone outside of their fan bases.

Adding any of those schools or a program like BYU (which isn’t happening) would not be a lucrative enough endeavor to make it worth the Big 12’s while.

I know the concept that bigger is better is tough for people to get past when it comes to realignment, but it’s important to remember that what’s good for one league isn’t necessarily what’s good for another.

The ACC now has 15 teams and the Big 12 has 10. Both appear to be stable and headed toward exciting and profitable futures. What’s wrong with that?



jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

This story means ND expects Obama will win, and so it will be another four years before the Big 12 oil and gas interests have a shot at combining conference expansion with regional political economic interests.


DanHogan95 1 year, 7 months ago

Matt, I've read a few places that Louisville is good enough to be accepted as #11 but there isn't a #12 out there to make the deal possible. Do you buy in to that?


Vernon Riggs 1 year, 7 months ago

Exit fees are like used car prices..they look nice on the windshield, but nobody pays full price. If FSU want to leave the ACC, they wouldn't pay $50 million. Did MethZoo pay full price? Did the Aggies?

If nobody joins the Big12, that's okay too. Better schedule. More $$$ divided by only 10 teams. A better path to the 4-Team Play-off Championships.

All the people that are saying in 13 years, Texas and OU will be leaving the Big12...13 years is a lifetime! The sky isn't falling yet.


phogphan2000 1 year, 7 months ago

Forget about adding teams, I think the full round robin format is great. Other conference regular season titles are becoming totally meaningless at this point. If FSU is upset about the $50 million they'll call. If not there's just not enough reason to add teams like UofL and Cinci. UofL should probably just give up and see if the ACC will add them in bball to balance out ND. BigEast is dying fast with Calhoun out and ND out. Going to be strictly 2nd tier at this point.

Krohnutz, no doubt the ACC gave up some things the Big12 wouldn't have to ND, but they also didn't have as much to give up. Don't think ND will have an opportunity to steal an Orange Bowl bid, but a Chick-Fil-A bid or Russell Athletic bid yes. Not like with the Big12 where the deal has been made for next best teams to play in a big bowl similar to the Cotton Bowl setup they have now. ACC probably did enough to appease FSU with the ND move, now they'll have them both locked in with the big buyout.


riverdrifter 1 year, 7 months ago

ND doesn't have near the clout they had 10 years ago. It would be fun to have them in football but it's no biggie.


blindrabbit 1 year, 7 months ago

Since all these blogs are getting way too serious, here is a bit of trivia. Kansas is bordered by four states all which have 8 letters their in their name. RockChalk!


Krohnutz 1 year, 7 months ago

By the way, Jim Calhoun just retired.


Krohnutz 1 year, 7 months ago

Also, concerning the exit fee increase, note this article:

If Florida State was debating a move, I would think it would be now or never. If the $50 million is to come into effect, FSU (and other schools) would have a legal recourse to exit the league before it is legally binding.

If I am a member of a rotary club, and one day ten other members vote to charge $50 bucks for me to join a different rotary club, it does not mean I am instantly bound by that fee.

And the ACC commish is a dirty SOB, as a side note. If you feel a sting in your a$$ region, you need to locate him as soon as possible, and make sure his pants are not at his knees.


Krohnutz 1 year, 7 months ago

Look, I have not been much of a UT fan, but this time I am going to come to their defense.

Let me ask you folks this: Is it plausible that a school like Notre Dame might be asking for way too much for a conference to take their offer? I am going to say "yes" to that one.

Is it plausible that the ACC gave up more than the Big 12 would have simply because they were the next weakest conference after the Big East? I am going to say "yes" to that as well.

If you scroll down to the 11th paragraph of the ESPN article it makes mention of some bowl tie-ins, to include the Orange Bowl. Nothing else is mentioned on how that works.

My guess is that Notre Dame leveraged a desperate conference to give up something that the Big 12 would not. And to be honest, if it involves benefits like bowl placement over a full-on conference member than I am NOT for that deal.

I think as the days go on and the details come out, this marriage between the ACC and Notre Dame will look less glorious.


Displayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Is it any wonder that the Big 12 is stronger now that Brady Deaton is no longer the Chairman of the Big 12 supervisory committee??? He wasn't interested at all about keeping the Big 12 strong, or growing the conference. His only motive was to get Miztake into another conference! That's why I hope every team that plays Methzzoo pounds them into little pieces.


jgkojak 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, I can see the B12 lasting with 10 teams for 13 years (per TV agreement) - then, at the end of year 13-- boom - TX and OK start evaluating their options.

A few things to consider: 1) Will Penn State be in the Big 10 in a decade? There are still some ugly things about boosters and Sandusky that will come out.

2) If Penn State is pushed out of the Big 10, what the replacement school? Rutgers would be 1st choice-- but they may in the ACC then The only other geographically viable AAU school is Kansas.

I contend that either as a replacement for Penn St or in an expansion to 14-16 teams, the Big 10 issues as invite to KU about 12 years from now.


Jayhawk470 1 year, 7 months ago

What does this mean for the Big 12? Nothing. Notre Dame was never going to join the league anyway. And that's fine with me. I don't want a team in the league that doesn't want to join all the way.


Ron Prichard 1 year, 7 months ago

I wanted ND but only if we could have had all the sports ultimately. Without football, I don't think it is a huge loss. From some of the details I have heard, ND may be getting some things from the ACC that the Big 12 was never willing to offer. Also, I was hearing that ND's TV ratings with NBC have had some of their all-time lowest ratings in the last year and a half. ND's prestige is falling but they still wanted several special concessions from everyone else. If they wanted to be treated differently, then we didn't want them in the Big 12. Remember, that's what started all this mess in the first place. Nebraska and MU were upset that Texas got a bigger piece of the pie than they did.

The most disappointing part of all of this for me is that it would appear FSU and Clemson are now squarely out of the picture, along with any other ACC school. So, while I do like the 10 team Big 12, if they wanted to expand at anytime in the near or near-distant future, they needed to strike while the ACC was weakened. I wouldn't want to add teams just to add right now. I kind of think the SEC is already regretting their decision to add to mediocre teams that didn't add significant TV value (teams to remain unnamed--ha!).

The Big 12 is secure for several years to come, and after this move I wouldn't expect much change for a while. The Big East may scramble and try to add some more middling teams, but the major power conferences are pretty well set for a while. The only other thing I could see is whenever (or if) ND decides to join the ACC in football is the ACC trying to add one more team to make it an even 16 (Louisville or UConn?).


Daniel Kennamore 1 year, 7 months ago

This is yet another example of the Big 12 getting hosed because Texas made us drag our feet. Clemson and Florida State were both right there ready to jump ship but we dragged on because of the pretty public courting by Texas to get Notre Dame. Now we've lost all three.

And Matt, a lot of us are not after 12 teams because bigger = better; we are after that because it's more STABLE. I don't care if we make 3 to 5 million less a year because we add 'inferior' schools like Louisville and's more STABLE. The only reason we don't grab a very lucrative Louisville program before the ACC at this point is Texas greed, plain and simple.


Stephan123 1 year, 7 months ago

Notre Dame has a much better shot competing in a weak ACC. As for the academic question, KU should see a rise in its standing as the university's new admission standards are implemented over the next few years. The admission standard is one of the factors computed to figure out "rank". ACC was quite nervous about holding on to its members. $50 million is a whole lot of cash.


Krohnutz 1 year, 7 months ago

Also, I would like to see a similar football arrangement done with BYU. Note, I do not mean adding them for other sports, I mean playing five games against them annually.

If you are looking for an independent to buffer up your non-conference schedule with both fan interest and dollars, I would think BYU would be a solid fit.

I feel like it would be a win-win for both sides. Their home games could be televised on the BYU network, and the road games added in with B12 revenue.

Throw in television exposure for everybody else.

Who is with me?


Krohnutz 1 year, 7 months ago


Can you address the reported statement that "Notre Dame has acces to the ACC's Orange Bowl," that was posted on ESPN.

If Notre Dame can sneak in and take your automatic bid to the Orange Bowl, I can see why they went ACC over the Big 12. Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia... Ehh, any sane football team would say "No way," to such a demand. I cannot imagine that it would sit al that well with the traditionals already in the ACC.

Yeah, North Carolina and Duke might not give a crap, but you can bet FSU or VT would. So what is the official deal concerning their bowls?

Thanks in advance.


canusayduh 1 year, 7 months ago poor poor people who were banking on Notre Dame coming to the Big 12 when the good teams are leaving in a mass exodus. Have you finally figured it out yet?


BPSkelly 1 year, 7 months ago

While this is certainly news worthy, does anyone really view this as some sorta seismic shift that drastically alters the College Football landscape more than it already has the last 2-3 years? I dont think it does. They're going from a crumbling Big East where they were a ZERO partner for football to an ACC partner where they'll actually play some ACC schools. Im a little surprised its FIVE per year, but lets be honest... other than two or three schools, most of the ACC is fodder... of which it still wouldnt be that shocking if Notre Dame has trouble with. It might improve NDs odds of getting into a 'Final Four', but my guess is it is only marginally.

I have to agree with Matt nearly 100% on his assessment. Did anyone ever HONESTLY think Notre Dame was coming to the Big 12??? Now, I WANTED it to happen, but I never really believed or bought into that idea.

I also think that this going to keep the Big 12 at 10 for a hell of a long time as well. Is that what I want? No. Would I have loved to see a mass-exodus of the good ACC football teams coming our way? Yes. But again, pie in the sky sorta stuff. The one thing all of these 'realignments' shows is that it doesnt take much than an uncredible "unamed source" to blow #$@% out our $%@% and people freak out about it.

Personally Id still like to add Louisville, but finding another dance partner to join -- I mean who would we even go after really -- it just doesnt seem to make much sense.

One thing overlooked in all this is that I think ND liked being "East Coast Centric" the whole time. Your not gonna a get a lotta "Subway Alumni" going to the heart of Texas now are you? Id imagine UConn or Rutgers (or even Louisville) will end up being the 16th team. And the ACC will continue its fine tradition of mediocre football.


Vernon Riggs 1 year, 7 months ago

No team playing in the ACC will ever play for the NCAA National Championship in the 4-Team Playoff that starts in 2014. Will FSU and Clemson trade that cold hard fact for a Junior Membership from Notre Dame?

What does Notre Dame get for their Junior Membership? Share of the ACC's TV deal? Part of the ACC's Bowl Money shares? Position in line for one of the ACC bowl spots? Seems like a lot for five games per year.


LAJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

"...but also should be able to continue healthy rivalries with schools such as Navy, USC, Michigan State and others."

According to the Chicago Trib, the Irish will keep their rivalry games against Navy, USC and Stanford, and will likely play those old Big 10 rivalries on a rotating basis. It'll be a little weird not seeing ND play Michigan and Michigan St every year... but I suppose no less weird than KU not playing mizzou or Texas and A&M not playing each other. So is the way of the conference realignment world.,0,4749218.story

As to ND to the Big 12 talks, it's pretty clear all of that was simply a means of leverage for the Irish, as the ACC didn't want ND joining without football. They showed the ACC they had other options, and the ACC caves with the understanding that ND will play 5 games against ACC opponents. Big 12 was never going to pick up Notre Dame, and those thinking we would actually add FSU or Clemson should probably come down out of the clouds as well. That was a super-long shot that never really had a chance, even though it would have been sweet had it happened.


bjejayhawk69 1 year, 7 months ago

Grab an appropriate school when it comes along. I think Louisville is better than people realize in all sports. Would give presence in the Kentucky, southern Ohio area. Bringing on new schools needs to include increasing TV viewers. If you can convince a BYU that would be good.


blindrabbit 1 year, 7 months ago

KU is in a difficult time; football attendance is falling, even with talk of moderization of Memorial Stadium. Really, KU football fans are as fickle as any, have a winning season and attendance improves for a year or so, but falls off abruptly, look at attendance a year or two after bowl wins in 1991, 1993, Texas, Orange and Insight Bowls (attended the last 4). This along with a decreasing standing in academic rankings, even compared to Big 12 schools which KU used to beat out. KU is loosing any bargaining position with other conferences as athletics (except BB) and academic excellance tails off.


HAWKLICIOUS 1 year, 7 months ago

From a basketball standpoint, the road to a conference championship for Notre Dame just got a little more difficult (especially with Cuse and Pitt coming to the ACC). I would think Notre Dame basketball would have a better chance of winning in the Big 12. From a football standpoint: 1). I am curious how the five teams that Notre Dame will play are determined? Certain years could be a cake walk for them. 2). The Big 12 would not have been a good fit in terms of winning for Notre Dame. Having to face UT, OU, OSU and dare I say KU ((:-) on a yearly basis could be detrimental to their record. Overall, a move to the ACC seems like a good fit for the Fighting Irish.


John Myers 1 year, 7 months ago

Hey Matt -

Has there been any talk at all about renaming the conference? I'm fine with staying at 10 teams, but remaining the Big 12 with 10 teams drives me batty. Any consideration to changing to a name that isn't tied to a specific number?


manginorh00lz 1 year, 7 months ago

What happens when Penn State gets kicked out of the B1G?


jgkojak 1 year, 7 months ago

Big big mistake to not grab FSU and Clemson when we had the chance. Notre Dame may not have ever joined the B12, but grabbing those two would have absolutely solidified our position.

If the ACC were smart... 16 teams would be much more workable for non-football sports...

they would make a belated offer to West Virginia.

That would absolutely kill the B12.


Sam Brockert 1 year, 7 months ago

What is wrong with that? If we stay a ten, the big 12 dies. Plain and simple. In the current waters you are either growing or your dying. But lets face it, the real decision makers are influenced by Texas and Oklahoma. Neither one of them want to expand because it would be a harder road to the national championship. Why would those two schools care? They would be able to find homes EASILY.


jhawkinsf 1 year, 7 months ago

I still have to think that it's in the conference's best interest to get back to 12 teams. That allows a football championship game, a big money maker. I have to wonder if some conference team goes undefeated and gets left out of the BCS championship because we played one less game. If that's true and the Big East seems to be falling apart, I think we should be going after Louisville for sure, and then either Cincinnati or South Florida.


d_prowess 1 year, 7 months ago

Matt, do you have any sense on what the exit penalty would be for Notre Dame if they ever decide to fully (aka football included) join a conference other than the ACC? Would it also be $50 million or do they have a different out clause given that football is not included?


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