Instead of asking questions like, “what is the meaning of life”, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around, does it make a noise” and “what came first, the chicken or the egg”, college sports fans have been asking “will Notre Dame give up its football independence” seemingly since the beginning of time. Hell, I’ve been one of those fans who have asked that question from time to time.
Late last week, Tim Brando of Fox Sports has reported that Notre Dame is having conversations about joining the Atlantic Coast Conference for football. That report has caused quite a stir among college football fans and pundits everywhere.
For such a long time, I have believed that Notre Dame giving up its football independence would not happen in my lifetime — if EVER. But as I have been learning during my soon to be 44 years of life, everyone has a price.
Before I unleash, let’s be clear about one thing: Notre Dame is already flush with cash.
It essentially has its own football network (NBC) which pays it $15 million per year. The school also has tons of revenue streams flowing into the coffers of the athletic department and the academic side.
So while the upcoming ACC Network may (and most likely WILL) be a cash cow for its full-time schools, Notre Dame would likely not have that sudden urge for a money grab — though there is nothing with wanting some extra cash.
Also, while Notre Dame is not the BFD it once was several years ago, it’s still a brand that broadcast companies would be happy to pay for (ahem, NBC). And while it is no longer the prettiest girl at the prom, college conferences are still head over heels when it comes to Notre Dame (nothing wrong with MILFs, y’all).
Notre Dame is missing that one all-important component that would ensure its football program does not lose more luster off those shiny-ass dome helmets: access to the College Football Playoff.
The current playoff system is set up for conference champions in the “Power Five” (ACC, SEC, B1G, Pac-12 and Big 12) to have easier paths to qualify.
If the playoff format stays at four teams (as it should), Notre Dame would continue to have a much harder time making the playoff. Being without a conference means it would have to schedule out of their minds just to be in the conversation.
How could Notre Dame avoid that hassle? Join a conference. And since the Irish are contractually bound to join the ACC if they decide to give up their football independence, well there you go.
Look, I know the “old heads”, Notre Dame alums and fans out there cherish their football independence and want to desperately hold on to that tradition. I get it.
Unfortunately, tradition is a lost art in this era of college football. We could thank conference realignment for that…