Jeff: The big news of the week is that Notre Dame is headed to the ACC. This seemed like fantastic news at first because their addition, along with the simultaneous increase of exit fees, solidified the conference going forward and would likely eliminate a lot of realignment rumors involving any ACC teams. Then we heard that this might mean BC would fall into just the standard ACC rotation of playing Notre Dame which would mean they would essentially play once every 3 years. So right now, are you happy that Notre Dame is now part of the conference even if it means BC playing them in football less often or would you prefer BC playing them closer to every season and the conference have less stability?
Brian: It's not necessarily an either / or answer here in terms of added stability or more BC-Notre Dame football games. Yes, the added stability is important. You can forget about all those rumors of Florida State and Clemson leaving for the Big 12 now. As is a renegotiated TV payout, which will probably land Boston College somewhere in the range of a few extra million a year. That gets the conference's per-year payout closer to that of the other power four conferences. I'd imagine Boston College will get two more games against Notre Dame in hoops annually, which will be good for the program which will soon also renew hostilities with Syracuse twice a year. The addition of the Irish's Olympic sports is nothing but a positive for the conference, particularly in baseball where Notre Dame will likely fill the place of Syracuse in the Atlantic Division.
I also think Notre Dame hitching its wagon to the ACC will serve to stabilize the other power conferences. Further Big 12 expansion is probably off the table. So is Big Ten expansion (if the Big Ten was going to add Rutgers, UConn, Cincinnati, etc. or dip into the ACC, it likely would have already done so). The SEC doesn't have many viable candidates that extend its TV footprint and will be rolling in cash when their TV contract comes up anyway. The PAC-12 is similarly constrained when it comes to viable expansion candidates that make sense academically and geographically.
With the good, there's also the bad. If you re-read Notre Dame A.D. Jack Swarbrick's press conference transcript very carefully, the Irish have all the leverage when it comes to fitting five ACC opponents into the yearly schedule. Notre Dame will tell the conference which five dates it has available each season and it's on the ACC to work out which teams will play the Irish every year. I've been long of the opinion that the ACC should do a better job managing its own conference schedule -- in turn, maximizing its own TV inventory and revenue -- before catering to the non-conference schedule. Now we have a situation where Notre Dame dictates when they can play the ACC and the ACC will bolt the conference schedule around these five games (as well as other non-conference scheduling obligations).
Then there's the matter of bowl games, where the Irish can now be considered for non-BCS ACC bowl games. Notre Dame doesn't have any bowl tie-ins over the next two seasons, so it was imperative that the Irish football program find an arrangement that provided them access to the BCS and the future college football playoff. Let's say Boston College goes 9-3 with a win over Notre Dame during the year. But if the Irish win eight games, they will jump BC in the ACC bowl pecking order. Boston College has had to deal with any number of issues when it comes to bowl selection. Now we have to deal with the same potential bowl selection headache that we had in the Big East in our new conference home.
As for the annual Boston College-Notre Dame game, I think this move cheapens what has developed into a pretty good rivalry. No matter how overrated Notre Dame football is year in and year out, that's a game that Superfans circle on their calendar every year as a can't-miss game. That game puts butts in seats and is nearly always a nationally televised contest. The loss of an annual Boston College-Notre Dame game is unfortunate, but with a move to nine conference games, it's not the worst thing in the world, either. I do like the flexibility this affords BC in going out and scheduling other peer BCS programs as the one marquee non-conference game of the year. I don't think locking BC into an annual non-conference schedule that consists of Notre Dame, MAC / service academy and I-AA is in the best, long-term interests of the program. The Boston College program needs to get to other parts of the country and, in many ways, take on a football independent mentality when it comes to filling the precious few non-conference slots on the future schedule.
Finally, in terms of hoops, while I think Notre Dame basketball is a tad overrated, I can't help but think this only pushes BC's place in the conference down a bit. I know that the league was planning on putting ACC Tournament games on Wednesday when Syracuse and Pitt join the fold, but a 15th program makes the ACC Tournament just a bit more unwieldy.
Brian: BC has already lost four fumbles and Northwestern has forced a turnover in 16 straight games. What are the chances that NU makes it 17 tomorrow?
Jeff: Very very good.
Jeff: Do you think North Carolina is ready to get some revenge on the hardwood against Notre Dame since the Irish are 16-1 all-time against the Tar Heels in football?
Brian: Sure. It's easy to forget that North Carolina is just a few years removed from 2- and 3-win seasons.
Brian: Will Notre Dame eventually move football into the ACC, or do you think this hybrid arrangement is what we'll have for the foreseeable future?
Jeff: Eventually is a long time so yes. A lot of smart people think they'll move a lot sooner than I do.
Jeff: BC plays the only non-Big East BCS conference opponent in the ACC this week. Better chance that BC wins or the ACC sweeps the Big East opponents?
Brian: Better chance that BC wins. Maryland is involved in one of those ACC-Big East matchups.
Brian: NESN asks who is the best college coach in New England sports history? Surprised at the results of the poll so far?
Jeff: Yes, given Calhoun's retirement is what prompted the poll I thought he'd be winning by a larger margin.
Jeff: How is it possible that the BC game will not be shown on BTN in Boston today?
Brian: No clue. It's an even bigger head-scratcher when you consider the Michigan-Massachusetts game will be over in the first 15 minutes.
Brian: Last one. Who is the Eagles' leading receiver tomorrow? Does said receiver break the 100-yard mark?
Jeff: Gotta go with Amidon again and yes.
Brian (1-4 last week, 4-6 overall):
Boston College Eagles (-3) at Northwestern Wildcats
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns at Oklahoma St. Cowboys (-23.5)
Utah State Aggies at Wisconsin Badgers (-13.5)
USC Trojans at Stanford Cardinal (+9)
TCU Horned Frogs (-21) at Kansas Jayhawks
Jeff: (1-4 last week, 3-7 overall):
Northern Illinois Huskies (-3) at Army Black Knights
Virginia Tech Hokies (-10) at Pittsburgh Panthers
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+27.5) at Florida St. Seminoles
Alabama Crimson Tide (-20) at Arkansas Razorbacks
USC Trojans (-9) at Stanford Cardinal
ATL: (1-0 last week, 1-1 overall):