College athletics has been upended by the conference realignment that has played out over the past three off-seasons, and reached a fever pitch last month. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said on Wednesday that those changes were “a complete disaster.”
The big changes this offseason have centered around the PAC 12, which is now decimated. The conference is down to just four members in 2023 as Oregon and Washington joined the Big Ten and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah joined the Big 12.
Not only is this bad news for the PAC 12, obviously, but it’s not good news for the ACC or Notre Dame, either. Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in all sports except football, and is required to play at least five games a year against ACC foes. With the Big Ten solidifying itself as the top conference in the country financially, and the SEC clearly number two with the additions of Texas and Oklahoma next year, the ACC is in a precarious position.
Unlike the Big 12, which no longer has any teams that are particularly appealing to the Big Ten or SEC in the future, the ACC has a handful of teams that could easily be poached by those schools. A grant of rights signed by all ACC teams in effect through 2036 complicates things if schools elect to leave, but some, most notably Florida State, have already expressed interest in leaving the ACC. Who can blame them? Big Ten schools could make $50 million more a season from media rights than ACC schools starting next year. That adds up over a decade.
As for Notre Dame, this threatens to squeeze them out of being a football independent, as the finances and scheduling could get quirky. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick doesn’t like that, it seems. Take a look at this clip from the Dan Patrick Show, where he called conference realignment “a complete disaster”.
"A Complete Disaster."
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) August 23, 2023
Yeah, because Notre Dame’s indecision and refusal to join a league like everyone else definitely hasn’t contributed to the instability. Yes, Mr. Swarbrick, you had nothing to do with this.