The Fake News: Notre Dame to Join the ACC

Disclaimer: This article is entirely fictitious. If you do not possess a sense of humor, this article may not be for you.

NOTRE DAME, IN -- 9/30/2003

Yesterday the University of Notre Dame and the Atlantic Coast Conference reached a landmark agreement that will have ramifications throughout the NCAA for years to come. After lengthy negotiations, Notre Dame agreed to accept the ACC’s offer to become the conference’s twelfth member. Notre Dame will join the University of Miami and Virginia Tech who, this past summer, accepted invitations to join the ACC. Many experts thought that Notre Dame would retain its independent status in football, but the ACC was able to make the Irish an offer that they couldn’t refuse.

The biggest issue impeding Notre Dame’s move from independence to the ACC revolved around the school’s lucrative television contract with NBC. Notre Dame feared that it would be forced to share a portion of these revenues with other conference members. As an independent, Notre Dame is able to retain the entire $8.5 million dollars annually paid by NBC for the exclusive rights to televise Notre Dame home football games. Under the new agreement with the ACC, Notre Dame will not be obligated to share any of the NBC revenues with other conference members. In fact, Notre Dame will be given 25% of all local radio and television revenues generated by the other eleven ACC teams.

The other major issue that may have prevented Notre Dame from entering a football conference is scheduling. Notre Dame has long standing rivalries with Michigan, Purdue and USC among others and typically schedules several top programs from a variety of conferences. In the twelve member ACC, teams will play eight games within their conference leaving only three or four slots open for non-conference games. This arrangement would not have given Notre Dame the scheduling flexibility that they are accustomed to. In order to convince Notre Dame to join the conference, the ACC agreed that Notre Dame will play only three ACC foes per year and will automatically be given five victories to make up for the conference games that they are missing. So, if Notre Dame is 3-0 in the ACC, their conference record will be 8-0. If they are 0-3 in ACC games, their conference record will be 5-3. Notre Dame’s adjusted record will be used when the league’s conference championship game is set.

The other parts of the agreement reached by Notre Dame and the ACC are as follows:

  • Notre Dame will be given 75% of the revenue generated by the ACC’s automatic BCS slot. Miami and Florida State will each get 10%. The other nine ACC schools will split the remaining 5%. The same holds for at large BCS bids.
  • All ACC Presidents will be required to appear at Notre Dame pep rallies in South Bend dressed in French maid uniforms the week that their school plays Notre Dame.
  • Notre Dame will win all tiebreakers.
  • Notre Dame will not play road games within the ACC.
  • The eleven existing ACC schools will pay Tyrone Willingham’s salary for the next ten years.

Response to the agreement was mixed. Most ACC Presidents and Athletic Directors felt that they surrendered a lot to draw Notre Dame into the fold but that it will be worth it in the long run. Ten of eleven ACC Presidents felt some trepidation about showing up at South Bend sporting the French maid outfits. Miami President Donna Shalala, however, indicated that she is “very much looking forward to it, but would need to ask Bill Clinton to return her uniform.” The biggest opposition to the agreement came from Blacksburg. Virginia Tech responded to the news by filing a lawsuit against Notre Dame, the ACC, the NCAA, the State of Indiana and all football teams that wear gold helmets. This morning Virginia Tech unveiled new gold helmets and dropped the last of the five lawsuits.

When asked about the new agreement, Notre Dame’s most successful alum Regis Philbin commented, “This is great! I feel like a million bucks. Get it? A million bucks.” Former Irish quarterback Ron Powlus was less thrilled by the news, “Why couldn’t this have happened ten years ago? If I had been able to play against that weak competition three times per year, I may have had a better career.”

As expected, the agreement reached by Notre Dame and the ACC sent immediate shockwaves throughout college football as well as basketball.

With Notre Dame officially off the table, the Big Ten ended speculation by inviting Missouri to become their conference’s twelfth member. The Pac Ten then responded by poaching another Big 12 team, Colorado then grabbed the Buffs instate rival Colorado State from the Mountain West Conference. The moves left the Big 12 with ten teams and the Big Ten with twelve teams.

Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese also executed a plan to expand Big East basketball. The Big East will merge with Conference USA, the Patriot League, the Atlantic 10 and the Harlem Globetrotters to form a six division, 42-team basketball conference. The top 32 teams will be invited to New York City for the conference tournament. When asked how the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee would respond to this, Committee Chairman Jim Livengood indicated that the Committee may be willing to offer as many as five NCAA bids to the new conference. Tranghese commented that it was too early to speculate as to whether the conference would still be called the Big East, but sources close to Tranghese indicated that there are plans to change the conference’s name. Leading candidates are the “Really Big Sorta East”, “Mikey T’s House O’ Hoops” and “The Big 42”. Tranghese will soon address the future of his now decimated football conference. The Big East is expected to add Cincinnati and Louisville from Conference USA and may opt for a ninth member to be determined in a new reality show on ESPN called “Who Wants to Play Big East Football?”

The NCAA also announced plans for new rule changes within college football. The most significant involved the BCS. After lengthy discussions, the NCAA has decided to add a fifth BCS game, but at the same time will strip the Big East of its automatic BCS slot. In the spirit of compromise, the BCS will make teams outside of the Big Ten, Pac Ten, ACC, SEC and Big 12 eligible for a BCS slot. Here’s how it works: In even-numbered years, the highest ranked team (based on the AP Poll) among the Big East, Conference USA, the MAC, the WAC and Mountain West will be eligible for a spot in the least desirable of the five BCS games. The highest ranked team’s logo will be printed on a ping pong ball which will be placed in a bin along with 49 blank ping pong balls. One ball will then be randomly drawn from the bin. If the eligible team’s ball is drawn, they will be given the BCS bid provided that a subsequent coin flip lands on heads. One NCAA spokeman said that he “felt that the small conferences have earned the right to be a part of the BCS and this was our way of honoring the fine work of those student-athletes and coaching staffs.”

A second new rule involving player behavior was approved by the NCAA, passing by a narrow margin. The new rule states that no team with either 15 felony arrests or 25 misdemeanor arrests can be eligible for a BCS game during the season of the infractions. Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel expressed outrage: “The new player conduct rule is the most abominable thing to happen to college football in recent memory. If this rule had been in place last season, our program would not have been able to compete for a National Championship. Northwestern may end up being the only school in the Big Ten BCS-eligible.” Current San Francisco 49er and former Miami and Oregon State Head Coach Dennis Erickson chimed in as well: “Man, I got out just in time.”

A third NCAA rule relating to academic achievement did not pass. The proposed rule would have required football programs to maintain a graduation rate of at least 15% to be eligible for the BCS. This rule was expected to pass but Notre Dame, a school with a 90% football graduation rate, unexpectedly used its 68 electoral votes to oppose the rule. When reached for comment, Athletic Director Kevin White explained why he opposed the new measure. “Clearly Notre Dame advocates higher academic standards within college sports, but we were afraid that the new rule would give Boston College a better chance to land a BCS bid and we just can’t beat them anymore.” A relieved LSU Coach Nick Saban stated, “What does academics have to do with Division 1 college sports? Requiring players to go to class would cripple our conference.” Texas Coach Mack Brown added: “Gradu-what?”

Will the new rules and conference musical chairs be good or bad for college football? Only time will tell.

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