@MrSEC IMHO ACC is more stable than folks think. We've heard team A will bolt etc before. Good gossip is what media does best.
For the ACC, the best way to achieve stability would be for the league to add Notre Dame as a full member. Currently the Irish are scheduled to join John Swofford’s conference in 2013-14, but only those sports not using a pigskin will officially join. The Notre Dame football team will play five ACC opponents each year, but it will maintain it’s independence.
Yesterday it was announced the school and the network had extended their current contract by another 10 years, running through the 2025 gridiron campaign. In the past the school and the network had agreed to five-year extensions of the deal that was initially signed back in 1991.
NBC — now merged with Comcast — can offer “additional avenues to expand the breadth of Notre Dame-related sports programming on NBC platforms,” according to Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick. In other words, expect NBC to continue to air Notre Dame home football games while the new NBC Sports Network (which reaches 80 million homes) will launch specialty programming focused on Notre Dame athletics. NBC Sports Network will also have access to the school’s other sports and a home football game on occasion.
ESPN owns the rights to Notre Dame road football games played at ACC schools via its contract with that conference.
In a statement, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said, “We are particularly excited that this extension offers enhanced rights that allow us to bring Notre Dame Football to fans on more platforms than ever before.”
So why write of this on an SEC-centric website? Because Notre Dame’s extension with NBC impacts the ACC and the ACC is the conference that’s currently most vulnerable to another league’s raid.
“I think it strengthens us in a lot of different ways,” Swarbrick said yesterday. “It’s not intended to be a signal about (independence). Our commitment to it isn’t more today than it was two years ago. It’s a starting point for our planning what we wanted to achieve.”
Maybe so, but the deal most certainly does button-up Notre Dame as a football independent for the foreseeable future. With NBC/Comcast cash rolling in, the school can continue along as an adjunct football member of the ACC. Or another conference.
From an ACC standpoint, Notre Dame won’t be rushing in as a last-minute hero to save the day. If the Irish had joined the league full-time — and no one really expected that they would — it would have meant four additional ND/ACC football games each season. That would would have meant more inventory to sell to ESPN and more cash for the league’s schools. It would also would have meant that “football schools” like Florida State and Clemson would’ve seen Notre Dame more often. As it stands, 14 ACC schools will be pushing for matchups with Notre Dame but only five per year will get them.
It’s believed that several ACC schools have had discussions with the Big Ten regarding a potential jump to Jim Delany’s league. Maryland is currently fighting to escape the ACC’s $50 million exit fee by way of the court system. If that fee is eventually negotiated down — like just about every other exit fee that’s ever been challenged — it’s possible schools like Virginia, Georgia Tech, and/or North Carolina could get invites from the Big Ten.
On the other hand, if that huge fee is upheld, the ACC might stabilize.
Big Ten schools will be aiding Maryland with its exit fee, whatever it turns out to be. So it isn’t likely the league’s administrators would be too keen on kicking in tens of millions more to help other ACC schools jump leagues. In turn, that would solidify the ACC.
If the Maryland exit fee is negotiated down and ACC other teams begin to evacuate, Notre Dame’s options would appear to be limited to the Big XII as the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC all share revenues evenly. Those conferences’ schools have given most of their third-tier media rights back to their league offices in order to create league-owned networks. The Big XII allows its schools to hold onto their Tier 3 rights. And you can bet Notre Dame will have no desire to end it’s partnership with NBC. So if the ACC falls victim to another raid, the most likely destination for the Fighting Irish would be the Big XII.
For those who will point out that the ACC was also an even-Steven league before admitting Notre Dame, you’re correct. But the ACC wasn’t dealing from a position of power. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are in no danger of being raided by other conferences and they all have or will have their own networks. The ACC was vulnerable and therefore more willing to bend if it meant nabbing Notre Dame and earning itself a bit more stability.
But with Notre Dame’s new NBC/Comcast extension, the ACC won’t become as stable as it might have… had it been able to convince the Irish to join in football, too. Such a move might’ve even put the brakes on conference realignment across the board for a little while. Instead, all eyes remain trained on the Maryland situation. And the ACC remains vulnerable to outside attacks.