In a less-than-stunning piece of breaking news on this beautiful Wednesday morning, Notre Dame announced they are going to join the ACC.
Well, except for football and hockey.
The Big East is falling apart and is, frankly, struggling to maintain it's place among the second-tier conferences in the NCAA. While the Fighting Irish have not (yet) aligned their football program with a conference, the move to the ACC makes enough sense on so many levels that nobody should be surprised.
As part of the deal, Notre Dame will play five football games against ACC opponents each year. If they maintain rivalry games against the likes of USC, Navy and Stanford, that means someone from the Big Ten (Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State) will likely get bumped off the calendar on an annual basis because of the move.
Is that a bad thing for the Irish? Not necessarily.
The ACC is filled with universities that play in a New Year's Day bowl game on an annual basis. Florida State is a legitimate national championship contender this year, and Virgina Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Boston College all have a strong history on the gridiron. Let's not ignore the historic rivalries that the Irish have with some of these schools as well.
For the Irish, they'll be adding affiliations with marquee programs in sports other than football with universities that are strong academic matches. Maryland and Virginia are strong lacrosse programs, which is nice. But the ability for Notre Dame to put North Carolina and Duke on the basketball schedule every year is a major consideration.
As someone that appreciates Notre Dame's traditions, it's easy to see why the Irish would join the ACC.
If this goes well, could we see Notre Dame align their football program with the ACC within the next decade? It's at least possible, especially if NBC decides their new regional sports platforms afford them enough opportunities to walk away from their exclusive deal in South Bend when the current contract expires.
This is another big moment for the NCAA, as the major conferences continue getting stronger and the mid-major conferences continue adding formerly-major conferences to their ranks. Notre Dame is now the latest, and biggest name, school to make a change.