Additionally, the way the deal is written, an ACC team will need two more wins than Notre Dame to not get leap-frogged by the Irish in the bowl pecking order. In other words, if Maryland and Virginia finish 9-3 in a given season and Notre Dame is 8-4 and it is the Gator Bowl’s turn to pick the No. 3 ACC team, it can — and will — pick the Irish. One more bonus for Notre Dame: If and when it does return to national prominence, it won’t have to deal with playing in a conference championship game against a quality opponent in order to wrap up a playoff spot or a BCS bid.
The Big East has been the best and deepest basketball conference in the country in recent years. But with Syracuse, Pitt and now Notre Dame moving to the ACC; Connecticut in flux with the retirement of Jim Calhoun; and schools such as Houston, SMU and Central Florida replacing the departing schools, the profiles of the two conferences have changed considerably.
One can bet that Notre Dame basketball Coach Mike Brey will have a considerably easier time selling recruits on playing games against North Carolina and Duke than on games against SMU and UCF. What’s more, it is entirely possible that the Big East hybrid, which will eventually include football-only members Boise State, San Diego State and Navy, won’t survive.
The simple fact of it all is this: The ACC was so desperate to improve its football profile in any way possible that it accepted Notre Dame’s ludicrous terms just so it could claim to now have a relationship with the marketing and TV monolith that is Notre Dame football. The real football conferences: Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-12 would never have taken Notre Dame under these terms. As bad as the Big Ten appears to be this year, it is still the Big Ten.
So let’s all cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame. The Irish climaxed their week with a win at No. 10 Michigan State to go to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. They still have the best fight song out there and much of the world still buys into the myth that the school is somehow different than all the other money-chasing big-time football schools.
In the meantime, Notre Dame laughs all the way to the bank. Cheer, cheer indeed.
For more by the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com. To read his previous columns for The Post, go to washingtonpost.com/feinstein.