Two years ago, the Atlantic Coast Conference had Notre Dame right where they wanted it, and they didn’t close the deal. Now, with the SEC and Big Ten expanding to become Power 5, Power 2, they’ve left the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 scrambling to find a way to still be relevant by the time the current model of College Football Playoff to work. its course after the 2025 season.
What does this mean for Clemson? What should Clemson do?
After the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, college football still found a way to have a season. Travel was not as easy as in years past due to the COVID restrictions that were in place.
Most conferences eliminated non-conference games, keeping everything at home. What reduced travel expenses and allowed conferences to keep the virus within it are member schools to a minimum.
This made it very difficult for the Independents, like Notre Dame, to play football. The Irish eventually worked out a deal — if you want to call it that — to join the ACC as a full-time member for one year just so Notre Dame could have a football season.
ACC finally got what it wanted. Notre Dame needed a home, and with it already tied with the ACC in every sport except football and hockey, it couldn’t go anywhere else.
The ACC could have forced the Irish to permanently join the league as a football school, but it didn’t. Instead, it allowed Notre Dame to enter into a deal where the ACC gave too much to the Irish, but the Irish gave too little in return.
Two years later, the ACC is looking back on this lack of judgment and wishes it had been firm. If only Notre Dame had called and said, “We’ll help you, but only if you come and join our conference full time. If not, then good luck trying to make a schedule when nobody plays non-conference opponents.”
I’m not saying that would have forced Notre Dame’s hand and the Irish would have been stripped, but it would have at least shown that the ACC has some strength and try to at least push its power.
Instead, the ACC collapsed. Notre Dame got what it wanted. And now that USC and UCLA have decided to jump into the Big Ten in 2024, there’s a chance the Irish will join them.
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Notre Dame now holds the fate of the ACC in its own hands. A decision by the Irish to remain independent will at least allow everything to stay in order for the time being. With the ACC’s rights granted until 2036, its full-time members are likely to stay put for now as they try to avoid a fee that could cost them more than 300 million dollars in TV revenue if they get up and join forces. SEC or Big Ten.
If Notre Dame decides to join the ACC full-time, which doesn’t seem likely, then the ACC will have the negotiating power it needs to reopen its deal with ESPN and try to at least get closer to the TV dollars of the SEC and Big Ten. will attract with the new TV packages.
If Notre Dame joins the Big Ten, which could happen, then all bets are off. And it’s every school for themselves and we could see the decline of the ACC.
It was reported earlier this week that the ACC and Pac-12 are talking about some sort of alliance that would allow them to enter into a joint television deal with ESPN. This plan, which supposedly comes from the ACC, sounds outlandish and desperate at best.
It also indicates that ACC schools have expressed their desire to possibly leave the ACC if commissioner Jim Phillips and the conference do not ease their concerns and find a way to compete for television revenue with the SEC and Big Ten.
Phillips reportedly met with the league’s athletic directors and presidents on several different occasions last week. I can tell you that Clemson is not sitting back and waiting.
Clemson’s Board of Trustees met Friday to discuss some action items unrelated to the ACC or conference expansion. However, as The Journal’s Riley Morningstar reported, the BOT went into executive session to discuss items outlined in the announced agenda, as well as “to obtain legal advice regarding matters covered by the attorney-client privilege.”
It seems clear that Clemson is putting, or already has, a plan in place.
Remember, if the ACC opens negotiations with ESPN and the Pac-12, then Clemson and any other ACC school looking to leave the conference will have their window of opportunity to jump ship.
And in my opinion, if the ACC tries to align with the Pac-12, especially with all the travel that can be involved for its non-revenue sports, then Clemson needs to get out and out fast. Nothing good will come of an ACC and Pac-12 partnership, at least not anything that will compete with what the SEC and Big Ten will do.
Clemson can’t afford to be left behind, and I doubt it will be.