Each week, we’ll examine schools that could potentially join the ACC at some point if/when the conference decides that 14 isn’t good enough. While it appears that conferences (ACC, and SEC soon) are content with 14 for now, any moves by conference cornerstone programs could cause even more shifting. With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at how each potential addition stacks up.
This week’s resume: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
School: University of Notre Dame
Team nickname: Fighting Irish
Location: South Bend, IN
Current League: Independent (football)/Big East (all other sports)
Year Established in FBS: 1906
2011 W-L: 4-2
Overall W-L: 849-297-42 (incl. all games)
National Titles: 11
Bowls: 30 (2 BCS)
The Good: Notre Dame football is an institution in not just American collegiate athletics, but the country’s sports landscape as a whole. A nationwide branding and marketing machine, the Irish have their own television deal with NBC and one of the country’s largest fanbases, spread from coast to coast. As a current member of the Big East in all sports but football, Notre Dame already has well-established rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Along with current ACC member Boston College, Notre Dame is one of just two Catholic schools playing football at the FBS level. As chronicled in the book “Perfect Rivals,” Notre Dame has also had a storied history with the University of Miami, specifically in the 1980s.
The Bad: Notre Dame’s preferential treatment in the Big East has been frustrating to watch since 1995, and it would take a huge push for the team to give all of that up. Also don’t forget that Notre Dame has been largely overrated for the past decade and a half, getting by solely on the mythos of their last championship in 1988 and the allure of “Notre Dame football”-as-institution (much like the qualities assigned to teams like the New York Yankees, Duke basketball and Dallas Cowboys). On a less-biased note, Indiana is neither “Atlantic” nor “Coastal,” a geographical sticking point that the ACC, unlike most other leagues, seems to value. There’s also the argument that Notre Dame would keep their NBC television deal, which would give them a huge advantage in terms of TV revenues.
Our Vote: Emphatically, yes, if only because the ACC needs as many “big fish” as possible (in spite of how inflated a team’s stature may be by perception). Notre Dame brings eyeballs, and eyeballs bring more television revenue for all the schools in the conference. The best part — people will gladly watch the Irish even when they’re terrible, so there’s no drop-off for the other ACC institutions during down years. Plus, a Notre Dame invite means Connecticut will be joining as well (supposedly), thus creating the greatest top-four programs any basketball league has ever seen.