On Friday the ACC released the future Notre Dame and ACC football schedule for the 2014-2016 seasons.
Wasn’t it only a few months ago that critics of the partial membership deal said Notre Dame would never agree to such a deal, or that the Irish would create their own schedule? Yea about that…
Considering that Notre Dame must play “at” the ACC’s 3 best football programs in this first cycle of games -> 2014 at Florida Sate, 2015 at Clemson, and 2016 at Virginia Tech, I’d say the balance of the scheduling is far more equitable than is given credit for by some. Now no one will argue that partial membership is better than a full membership with Notre Dame, but there are significant benefits that the ACC has already reaped and will reap with agreement.
Back in October I wrote about what would Notre Dame partial membership add to the ACC’s television contract. I estimated $1-1.5 Million. Recently a CBS Sportsline article I’ve referenced before confirmed the increase of at least $1 Million per ACC team. That is not the only way the partnership with Notre Dame benefits the ACC. The ACC struggles with having marquee football matchups. That’s an absolute fact. This affects ticket sales and television exposure from college athletics biggest revenue generating sport. When Florida State and Miami is still one of your highest highest rated conference games of the year, then you’ve got a problem.
That game drew 4.6 million viewers. Miami hasn’t been nationally relevant for years and Florida State is just now returning to that level. To both schools credit it does still show how the Miami and Florida State brands still carry significant weight. Clemson versus Florida State had similar numbers at 4.3 million. Beyond that only Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech drew more than 4 million viewers at 4.3 million on a Labor Day night where it was the only football game on.
I think that’s enough evidence to prove the ACC needed to find some way to increase interest in their football matchups. In walks in Notre Dame.
The other day listening to Clemson sports radio, it was one of the few times there was genuine excitement about an announced a game that was still over 2 years away, Notre Dame at Clemson in 2015. Like it or not people are still interested in Notre Dame, even more so after last year’s run to the national title game.
You don’t think so? Look at these numbers…
Notre Dame’s game at 2-7 Boston College had 5.8 Million viewers. It was Boston College’s only sellout of the year, and out drew BC’s next highest home game by over 4000 people. Only Alabama and Texas A&M had more viewers that November 10, 2012 day.
Oh that was only because Notre Dame was in the national title hunt. Back in 2011 Wake Forest hosted Notre Dame with their largest crowd of the season. The game was also in primetime, ABC 8 PM. Both teams were 5-3 at the time. The last time Georgia Tech hosted ESPN Gameday? 2006 with you guessed it Notre Dame in town.
Ok What about Notre Dame’s just completed deal with NBC to extend their deal through 2025. That can’t help the ACC in anyway. Obviously that deal is best for Notre Dame, but that doesn’t mean ACC teams won’t benefit. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame drew 6 Million viewers on November 2, 2012 on NBC. No split coverage either on NBC either. That’s national exposure. Notre Dame’s 2011 game at Pittsburgh drew 65,000 fans. The Panthers didn’t have another game within 15,000 people of that game.
When Notre Dame and Florida State played in the 2011 ChampsSportsBowl it was a 64 percent increase in TV ratings from the previous years game between NC State and West Virginia with over 5 Million viewers.
Yes the partial partnership allows Notre Dame to maintain their football independence, and of course it would be great if ND joined as a full member but that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. The deal still gives the ACC much needed football exposure and a sure boost in home ticket sales will make ACC schools AD’s happy. Notre Dame is a draw, and a huge one, even in years they aren’t in the top 10.
How much do you want to bet College Gameday is in Tallahassee next year for the game between Notre Dame and Florida State? I like the odds of that happening. We haven’t even got into how 2.5 Notre Dame games a year belong to the ACC beyond the TV contract. ESPN/ACC could certainly put one of those game on a possible a ACC/ESPN network in the future.
Scheduling 5 ACC teams a year with Notre Dame provides the ACC with more games on national TV, more higher profile games, and more higher rated games…