The Atlantic Coast Conference has had a busy week, though from most perspectives, maybe not a good week.
The last few days have been consumed with realignment drama as the ACC debated the additions of new teams. Stanford and California were considered, as well as SMU.
By the end of the week, there weren’t enough votes to make any additions. Twelve positive votes are required to admit new members, and only eleven of the fifteen member schools with a vote were in favor of admitting anyone.
It should be noted that there are certainly conversations still occurring, but for now, it appears the schools in favor of expansion have fallen one vote shy of success.
If you were attentive, you noticed that fifteen schools had a vote on expansion, even though there are only fourteen schools that are full members of the ACC. Notre Dame, who isn’t a member in football, still had a vote. This was brought to light by Larry Williams of Tiger Illustrated.
I did not realize they had a vote on the addition of full members to the conference, but it wasn’t completely shocking. I had already read that the Irish had a vote when it comes to the dissolution of the conference, as it pertains to the possibility that eight schools could vote to leave the league to escape the Grant of Rights.
Though I wasn’t shocked, I was a bit surprised. It seems logical that Notre Dame should have some say in the continued existence of the league. It seems logical that they should have some say in the addition of non-football-playing members.
It does not seem logical that a non-football-playing member of the ACC, like Notre Dame, should have a full vote when deciding whether football-playing schools will accommodate the addition of football-playing full members to the league.
Before we go any further, I want to state for the record: I like Notre Dame. I have nothing against Notre Dame. I would love them to become full members of the conference but I understand that won’t happen.
The reason this situation exists is because Notre Dame has weight. The ACC wanted them to join in every other sport than football in the hopes that one day the Irish would decide to join in football. It’s not the Irish’s fault they have a full vote on membership. They didn’t offer it to themselves, and the ACC could have said “Nah, you can just stay in the Big East or American Athletic for your other sports, we’re good.”
We don’t know the reason why the other ten schools, including the likes of Miami and Virginia, would vote to add new schools, but we do have a quote from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick on the Irish’s reason for voting yes to at least Stanford and Cal.
I work in marketing, so I know Swarbrick would decry this, but I read this as “We feel bad for Stanford and California and wanted to throw them a lifeline”.
Here is where I have a big problem with Notre Dame’s affirmative vote on adding Stanford and California. The question of whether a new school should be admitted to the conference should be based on whether it is a good business decision for the conference as a whole.
College football is a business, not a charity. I know a lot of fans dislike how college football has become more like a professional entity, but it has always been a business.
Clemson Football needs to exit the ACC as soon as possible
It is fair to say a conference should be about similar schools that have mindsets that complement one another, and we have to acknowledge that we don’t have public reasons why schools like Miami and Virginia were in favor of adding new schools that didn’t improve the overall value of the league.
Perhaps some schools were going to vote yes because they figure Clemson and Florida State will eventually leave, and it is conceivable at that point adding schools makes sense for Wake Forest, Boston College, Georgia Tech, etc. Perhaps they were feeling charitable too, who knows?
What we know is that Swarbrick wasn’t thinking about the best business decision for the members of the league. He was being nostalgic about the good old days of college football and wanted to help out the Irish’s buddy Stanford and their frenemy California.
Notre Dame should not have a vote to determine if the rest of the full members of the conference must assume a burden that they themselves are unwilling to bear. The Irish aren’t the ones who would have to share football revenue with the new members, and the revenue from other sports pales in comparison.
Whether the Irish make more or less with their own football television contract is irrelevant. As a member who has a full vote, their responsibility is to make the best decision for the league, not the decision that suits their personal whims and fancies.
This is ultimately the Irish’s fault. It is the fault of the ACC for allowing them that privilege in the first place, and yet another reason why Clemson must do everything in its power to exit the conference as soon as possible.