An Irish blessing
Some day Notre Dame may call upon the ACC for a service. It will want a football conference to call home, and the ACC will oblige, right after it's done making snow angels in the $100 bills layering its floor.
Until then? This partnership is an Irish blessing. Nothing is more important to anyone in this deal than football independence is to Notre Dame. That remains viable. And now the program can infiltrate the ACC's postseason bowl structure, a critical security measure.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame's non-football coaches said they were "ecstatic" to flee a decaying Big East. The ACC gets to trade on Notre Dame's name and earn a few more dollars from its TV deal. What Notre Dame got out of this, you can't put a price on.
Everybody's a winner
Los Angeles Times
The Notre Dame-ACC marriage is a win-win for both but a bigger win for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame got what it wanted; the ACC got what it needed. The Irish don't have to share their NBC TV money or money earned if they make any BCS bowl other than the Orange. Notre Dame also joins the ACC bowl lineup and can be cherry-picked if it meets certain minimum win-loss thresholds.
What's not to like? Playing five games against the ACC every year gives Notre Dame schedule stability and flexibility. The ACC wins because it can co-opt Notre Dame's national brand. The $50 million exit fee for ACC schools also should curtail the cut-throat expansion that has sullied the sport and strained intercollegiate relationships.
Nobody's a winner
Maybe if Notre Dame had jumped all-in, the "partnership" might be something to keep an eye on for the future and perhaps be the start of making the ACC a bit more relevant in the BCS. Instead, the Fighting Irish simply found another partner willing to accept an open marriage instead of a total commitment.
From a football standpoint, nothing really changes. Notre Dame isn't going to significantly enhance the ACC's revenues. And Notre Dame-Duke from South Bend isn't going to help NBC's ratings.
As for basketball, the presence of the Irish might help the ACC in Midwestern markets, but the core of the league remains along Tobacco Road.
So the winner seems to be neither.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Notre Dame came away a winner for the simple fact that it can now — mostly — put to rest concerns about its independent football status, and still provide for other sports a growing league of like-minded institutions.
But as much as both sides earned victories, they weren't equal. The Irish squeaked by with a last-second Hail Mary.
A new conference exit fee that starts at $50 million puts current conference members at a marginal disadvantage. The exorbitant figure makes it difficult for any of them to be like Notre Dame and become a winner somewhere else.