In less than a month, the Miami Hurricanes and Notre Dame will collide on a football field.
Get used to it at least every now and then.
Notre Dame is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, the league announced Wednesday. The Fighting Irish will leave the Big East and compete as full members in all ACC-sponsored sports except for football. The Irish will remain independent in football but will play five games a year against ACC teams, likely on a rotating basis. Those football games will count as nonconference games.
The timetable has not been announced, though the move is not expected until at least 2014.
Its a great day for the ACC, said UM coach Al Golden, whose sentiments were echoed throughout much of the country Wednesday. Just really excited about what our leadership is doing our presidents, our [athletic directors] and the conference office really fortifying our league and making it stronger.
Golden, among many others, was asked if he believed the Irish would ultimately be a football-playing member.
I think I share the sentiment of everybody, he said. We would love to have them. They represent all the things we represent in the [ACC], in terms of the commitment to student-athletes and graduation rates and doing things the right way. I would hope that it would be that [way] at some point.
But Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick told reporters Wednesday that he doesnt anticipate the Irish changing their independent status in football.
Thats central to our identity now, Swarbrick said. We anticipate maintaining it.
Swarbrick added during a teleconference: If something would change, and it would have to be a drastic change, were committed to the ACC.
The ACC formerly had an all-or-nothing requirement for membership.
We have always been an all-in, if you will, membership, ACC commissioner John Swofford said. In more recent years weve discussed this with a changing landscape out there in intercollegiate athletics. [Clemson president] Jim Barker, I think, said it best in one of our discussions about this and talking about change. You know, what was best 20 years ago isnt necessarily best in todays world.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the ACC next year, making the league 14 members strong. With Notre Dame, that would be 15 in all sports except football, and Swofford said he anticipates it staying that way.
He also expects no one to leave the ACC anytime soon. The buyout fee for a school wishing to depart the conference has gone from $20 million to $50 million, ensuring much greater stability.
In May, the ACC announced a 15-year TV contract with ESPN worth $3.6 billion, which came after Pittsburgh and Syracuse decided to exit the Big East. ESPN reported Wednesday that revenues are likely to increase to as much as $18 million per school, just behind the $20 million deal per school the Big 12 recently signed.
Notre Dame will maintain its TV contract with NBC for football.
Bowl-wise, Swofford said, and were not through with the discussions on this, but in all probability Notre Dame will be one of the multiple potential participants on the opponents side of the Orange Bowl. The ACC will keep all of its Orange Bowl revenues as a contract game that comes straight to the ACC. It does not go into the BCS revenue sharing pot, so to speak.
Thus, the possibility exists that an ACC team would play Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, as well as the Irish being eligible for all the ACC-affiliated bowls below the BCS games.
This part of the new deal might not thrill ACC football teams: A bowl provision allows for Notre Dame to be selected over an eligible ACC team if the Irish are ranked higher, equal to, or within one win of another eligible team.
UMs upcoming three-game series with the Irish will begin with the Oct. 6 game at Soldier Field in Chicago, followed by a 2016 game in South Bend, Ind., and 2017 game at Sun Life Stadium.
Today is a great day for the University of Notre Dame and our athletics department, including the football program, Irish football coach Brian Kelly said. Speaking strictly from a football standpoint, we have further solidified our future as an independent in college football, maintained our unique ability to schedule nationally and greatly improved our postseason bowl game options.
I applaud [Notre Dame president] Father John Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick for this move. They have set our entire athletics department up for great success in the future.