Notre Dame Joining the ACC: Signs of a Good Compromise

Was the ACC-Notre Dame Deal a Good Compromise for Both Parties?

“A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied, and I think that’s what we have here.” – credited to U.S. statesman Henry Clay.

Reaction to the Notre Dame / ACC alliance is strong no matter where you look.

Many Florida State and Clemson fans are upset because they feel that Notre Dame is getting a sweetheart deal, and they’re jealous of it. They cite the fact that Notre Dame only has to commit to playing five ACC teams each year while they are forced to play nine – thus making it very difficult for them to schedule the non-conference opponents they would like to play. They also cite the fact that Notre Dame is allowed to continue with its own TV contract separate from the ACC (for football) while still benefiting from the ACC’s football bowls, basketball games & TV, etc. And, of course, they are not happy about the increased exit fee which they feel was instituted to keep them – not Notre Dame – from leaving, with Maryland and Florida State specifically voting against it.

On the other hand, many Notre Dame fans don’t like the deal either, but for different reasons. They think that it is a bad deal for ND and a good deal for the ACC. The Irish had to contractually agree to playing five games per year against a rotating schedule of all 14 ACC teams. To many Notre Dame fans that means they are giving up 5/12th of their football independence (which, I suppose, they are). Keep in mind also that the terms of the deal call for Notre Dame to get a 1/15th share of the basketball money only – which the ACC successfully negotiated as only 20 percent of the total TV revenue.  1/15th of 20% = 1.3%. So from this point of view, Notre Dame will become 5/9th of an ACC football team but will only be paid a 20% (1/5th) share. (Before anyone cries for Notre Dame, bear in mind they will keep 100% of their own football TV contract with NBC, so they will be just fine)

Are these concerns really fair? Well consider this: Notre Dame is expected to increase ACC attendance more than the ACC will help the Irish. Having those five games per year against Notre Dame (plus all basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, etc.) will also give the ACC TV contract a boost estimated at $2 million per year for all 14 teams. Notre Dame will probably also get an increase from NBC, but you’d be hard-pressed to prove it’s because of this deal. So what does Notre Dame get out of it? First, they actually get to keep their unique deal with NBC – a significant benefit in itself. They also get a guarantee, effectively, that they won’t have to play any FCS or lower-tier FBS teams, while still retaining control over 7 football games per season – more than any member of any conference.

Fans at Florida State Maryland, Clemson and elsewhere are unhappy because they feel that Notre Dame is getting more than they give, while Notre Dame fans think the opposite. Lawyers, are fond of paraphrasing the above quote when reaching a settlement in which both parties are unhappy in some way. Using that criteria, this must be a good settlement.

Read more from Hokie Mark over at ACCFootballRx, where he gives his prescription for fixing what ails the ACC on the gridiron.


5 thoughts on “Notre Dame Joining the ACC: Signs of a Good Compromise

  1. It’s definitely not that simple.

    I am a Maryland fan and I love this deal … I think it’s good for both the ACC and for Notre Dame. The ACC schools voted unanimously to bring in Notre Dame on these terms, and while I’ve never really been a fan of a partial member for the conference, I understand why it was done and support it. There are also other Maryland fans who are ok with it.

    I know that some Maryland fans are irked because they want the Terps to be in the Big Ten, and are really mad about the $50 million exit fee. I think the Big Ten is an awful idea for Maryland and I’m glad that they’ll be staying in the ACC. Maryland is an east coast school, not a midwestern school. I do understand some of the reasons people want to move, but I don’t think it’s a good fit for various reasons (only one of which is history/tradition). The best thing to do would be to improve the ACC in ways it needs improvement (e.g. the football teams improve themselves), not to join a conference that’s a mismatch.

    A game against Notre Dame every three years (most of the time) is a great thing for all of the ACC schools. Another great Olympic sports member is also good for the conference. Hopefully it’ll all work out as well as everyone hopes it does.

    I would describe Notre Dame football now as “semi-independent.” They aren’t part of the ACC football league, but almost half of their schedule will be given to them by the ACC, It’s a relatively unique situation but I think it will work out well for all.

    • Thanks! I think it fits.

      If I understand correctly (I think I remember reading this) … what’s apparently going to happen is that Notre Dame is going to tell the ACC “I’ve got these five weeks free for year X” and the ACC will schedule five games for Notre Dame during those weeks that year. I have no idea how the ACC will pick the teams, and whether or not they’ll get input from ND or not. I presume that everyone will know well in advance when they’re playing ND so they can leave one non-conference slot open for those years.

      So in effect, the ACC is scheduling for Notre Dame the same way it schedules for all of the conference teams; it’s just that it’ll only schedule five games for ND instead of a full conference slate.

      So if that’s correct, semi-independent is as good a description as any. 🙂

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