Notre Dame reportedly pulling for Cal and Stanford in the ACC
The twists keep turning for the California Golden Bears in realignment, as the Fighting Irish emerge as a surprise ally.
When I think of longstanding allies of the California Golden Bears, I think of the the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Strange huh? But that appears to be where things are going as of this afternoon in Cal and Stanford (and perhaps SMU) joining the ACC.
Am told Notre Dame, as a full voting member of the ACC, is pushing hard for the additions of Stanford and Cal. That "full voting member" part is ... something. Writing on this shortly.
Ross Dellenger with more financial details of how Cal, Stanford, and SMU would work financially:
- SMU open to forgoing 5+ years of distribution
- Cal, Stanford taking a 60-70% share
- ESPN new $$ off-setting current member travel increases
There are probably academic and cultural reasons for Notre Dame adding Cal and Stanford. All are seen as well-rounded universities that nail the fundamentals of a top collegiate experience. All carry significant name recognition around the world. And all perform well at the non-revenue sports besides football and basketball. And there is the potential of a regular California trip for recruiting purposes as Notre Dame rotates out the USC rivalry with Stanford or Cal.
But there are certainly strategic aspects to Notre Dame wanting to bring Cal and Stanford in. For one, it would provide potential stabilization to an ACC that faces internal uncertainty if Florida State and Clemson choose to exit. And it’d be easier for Notre Dame to find a path to a 12-team college football playoff in the ACC, rather then having to go through the now extremely intimidating Big Ten gauntlet.
Notre Dame is a full member of the ACC in every thing but football. The Irish could make that partnership even more solid (if not a complete conference deal) and lay claim to being the dominant power in that conference if FSU and Clemson leave. But also, with Notre Dame even more solidly in the ACC fold, it might make Florida State and Clemson more likely to stay in line, garner by giving the conference more leverage in TV rights negotiations.
And there are advantages in the long game for Notre Dame too. There is also the possibility of it being a leverage play for better negotiating terms with the Big Ten, potentially extracting better matchups, favorable payouts, and a higher TV rights deal. This would ensure that even if the Irish might have a much harder path to making a playoff, it’ll be justified in ROI. Whether Cal and Stanford would be part of that equation is unclear.
Regardless, Cal is still alive for a major conference in 2024 and beyond. Still, they’re just hanging by a thread and their fate is entirely in the hands of everyone but theirs.
It’s not the greatest feeling, but the Bears have to take what we can get.