|Conference realignment continues, as feared and predicted. The ACC is now set to go to 15 teams. (US Presswire)|
The Atlantic Coast Conference was already set to reclaim its position as the elite college hoops league in America once Syracuse and Pittsburgh officially joined the conference in 2013-14. Now the ACC has become even stronger with the addition of Notre Dame.
The Irish will join the league in all sports -- except for football and, apparently, hockey. Obviously, football is what ultimately matters in South Bend. However, Mike Brey has made Notre Dame basketball relevant -- locally and nationally.
|Notre Dame joins ACC|
For a while there, Notre Dame fans were frustrated with Brey. During a three-year stretch in the mid-2000s the Irish made three consecutive NIT appearances. Many were clamoring for a change. Since then, Brey & Co. have gone to five NCAA tournaments in six seasons and finished in the top three of the Big East each of the past two years. Notre Dame should be competitive toward the top of the Big East again this season after returning all five starters off last year's team, which went 13-5 in league play, and also adds talented freshman Zach Auguste.
This is a nice addition to the ACC -- and maybe more importantly, a significant blow to the Big East.
New commissioner Mike Aresco, who left CBS Sports to take the reigns in mid-August, has some work to do. The league is now down to 17 non-football members -- with the impending additions of Memphis, Temple, Central Florida, Houston and SMU.
The league still has some quality basketball teams with Louisville and UConn now taking the mantle as the powers, but who knows what will happen in Storrs now that Jim Calhoun has decided to retire? The talent level in the Huskies program certainly isn't what it has been over the years.
And what if Louisville -- or even Georgetown -- winds up jumping ship to another league? There's already speculation that the Hoyas could be next to depart, maybe even following Notre Dame to the ACC.
Then the Big East becomes mediocre, not much more potent than the Atlantic 10, which just added Butler and Virginia Commonwealth.
The ACC now has 15 teams -- when Notre Dame officially joins at some point in the next year or two. The league also voted to increase the exit fees to three times the annual operating budget, which currently equates to more than $50 million. That should help with conference stability. Now will Commissioner John Swofford add one more to make it an even 16? It certainly looks that way.
If that's the case and he finds a way to grab, say a Louisville or UConn -- or even Georgetown, the Big East will have quickly gone from the most potent college basketball conference to arguably the weakest of the supposed power leagues.
While the ACC continues to rebrand itself as the power in college hoops.