The official news of Notre Dame's departure from the Big East came on Sept. 12. Since then, we've wondered if the lame-duck era of Irish hoops in the Big East would be drawn out, or if this 2012-13 season would be ND's last in that league.
Now, via Irish coach Mike Brey, we know. It'll be one more year on the carousel inside the Big East before the Irish head to the ACC, which will undoubtedly become the best basketball league out there when Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville and ND all are in the fold by the start of the 2014-15 season.
Via the Chicago Tribune, here are the details. Surprisingly, this decision was finalized six days ago and just hung out there before Brey let the cat out of the bag at a phone presser Thursday morning.
"We do know we'll be in the Big East next season," Brey said. "That decision was made last Friday. ...The last hurrah will be next year, not this year."
Big East bylaws mandated a 27-month waiting period before departure and there was some thought that Notre Dame -- which wouldn't owe the league a penny of relocation fees if it waited that long -- would negotiate an early exit to jump in with fellow Big East exports Syracuse and Pittsburgh for the 2013-14 athletic calendar.
That, evidently, is not to be. And Brey said he's fine with it, citing a bit of "buyer's remorse" in shifting to the ACC but also saying he's confident that the nonfootball playing members of the Big East -- the so-called "Catholic 7" -- also will be part of the league one more year before breaking off into their own league.
Yep, that's the other key part in this. Before the Catholic 7 severs ties, it would seem to me that the Big East will have one more good go of it next year, even though Pitt and Syracuse will be gone. The transmogrification of that league will happen more slowly than some initially expected.
The original plan was for Notre Dame to get going on with the transition process as soon as possible. That's been the model for most conference realignment behavior: If the calendar permits it, get out of your current league as fast as you can and move in to your new digs. Notre Dame won't be doing that, and now I'm thinking Louisville's transaction pattern will match it as well.
Meaning this. Next year's Big East will probably sort out as such, with 18 teams. (Tulane joins in 2014.)
DePaul (eventual outgoing Catholic 7 member)
Georgetown (eventual outgoing Catholic 7 member)
Louisville (leaves for ACC in 2014)
Marquette (eventual outgoing Catholic 7 member)
Notre Dame (leaves for ACC in 2014)
Providence (eventual outgoing Catholic 7 member)
Rutgers (leaves for Big 10 in 2014)
Seton Hall (eventual outgoing Catholic 7 member)
St. John's (eventual outgoing Catholic 7 member)
Villanova (eventual outgoing Catholic 7 member)
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