|Mike Brey and Notre Dame's future in the Big East is uncertain. Will it be one, two or three more years? (US Presswire)|
We don't yet know when Notre Dame will officially leave the Big East for the ACC (I'm guessing July 1, 2014). But whenever it happens, chances are it could take hoops fans a few years to realize the shift, anyway.
Last week brought the news that the Irish will move to the ACC in all sports except football (which will remain independent until the sun swallows our planet, and, even then, steadfast and stubborn Irish independence will likely live on with the reincarnation of a new solar system where nothing initially exists except the sanctity of a safeguarded and classified NBC television contract).
Irish hoops heading out of the Big East is another whack of the ax against the stump of that league's tree, but coach Mike Brey isn't ready to say goodbye. It's more than that, too: He won't let go. Brey wants to keep playing as many inter-conference games against the Big East as possible going forward.
Brey told ESPN.com:
Brey wants to play the Big East's Catholic-based institutions in nonconference home-and-home series, especially long-standing rivals Marquette and DePaul. Brey said he wants to add Villanova, St. John's and possibly Georgetown in the rotation of schools the Irish want to play. Brey said he wants to play at least two to three of those five schools every season.
"We're not in Philadelphia anymore so we definitely want Villanova, we want to go to New York with St. John's and keep DePaul and Marquette,'' Brey said. "We will be in the DC area with Maryland, but we'd still like to play Georgetown. Villanova, DePaul, Marquette, St. John's and possibly Georgetown are definitely the five I'd like to do.''
Brey said he is hopeful the Irish aren't leaving on poor terms in the Big East and would be stunned if the conference's like-minded institutions would shun Notre Dame in the future. Keep in mind, Boston College couldn't get former Big East teams outside of Providence to play on a regular basis after the Eagles left the Big East for the ACC.
It's terrific. He's picking out teams like loading up on items at a salad bar, just going down the row and choosing whatever his eyes tell him.
I actually love this. And although it's nearly impossible to forecast what all those aforementioned Big East schools will look like four years from now, chances are Notre Dame will do itself well in the non-con to keep a cluster of Big East teams on its itinerary. Think about it: You know Notre Dame will, at the absolutely minimum, also have at least two more major team agreements with a school not in the Big East due to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge (and if there are years in which ND isn't in the rotation, another BCS-level game is sure to be scheduled). That in addition to the Indiana-based Crossroads Classic (Notre Dame, Indiana, Butler, Purdue), which turned into an expectantly awesome event that hopefully is years away from ending.
So this primarily serves to boost the Irish's resume yearly before getting to the gauntlet of ACC play. It's what the tournament committee will want to see.
Coy move by Brey. Of course, he's setting the table for it now by basically looking to schedule years in advance -- like a college football coach would.
Brey also told ESPN.com, "So many people were jealous of the Big East, of us getting eight to nine to 10 to 11 bids. I think the ACC will move into that territory and get eight out of 15 teams in. It's kind of exciting to finish in the top half of the league and know that you can go to the tournament. That's gettable. It keeps hope alive when it's tough in November and December and you can still get a bid.''
Tournament qualifying is unlikely to be an issue for the Irish so long as Brey is there. Now, winning once ND gets to The Dance? Well ...