By David Teel
10:07 PM EST, December 13, 2012
With Notre Dame set to begin playing five ACC football teams per season in 2014, the most probable timetable for the Fighting Irish joining the conference for other sports was that same year. But the Big East’s impending breakup could fast-forward that arrival to 2013.
As Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel and ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Thursday, the Big East’s seven Catholic basketball schools, those that do not play Bowl Subdivision football, are poised to leave a conference that, with future members such as Tulane, Houston and SMU, they no longer recognize.
If Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul indeed walk, and if the division is effective this season’s end, then the ACC would welcome Notre Dame for 2013-14, a league source said Thursday evening. The conference, moreover, has scheduling contingencies for basketball and Olympic sports that include the Fighting Irish.
Those were formed immediately after the school announced in September its intention to exit the Big East for the ACC. Big East bylaws require a 27-month departure notice, but if the conference splinters, that’s moot.
Louisville also is leaving the Big East for the ACC, replacing Big Ten-bound Maryland. But as full, football-playing members, the Cardinals are unlikely to change their address before 2014.
Big East fracturing or not, Louisville would still have a 2013 football home with Connecticut, Cincinnati, Rutgers and newcomers Temple, SMU, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida, Boise State and San Diego State. Plus, unless Maryland departs for the Big Ten in 2013, there’s no room for Louisville in ACC football next season – an odd number of teams is untenable with divisions and a championship game.
While kicking Maryland to the curb to make way for Louisville in 2013 might feel good to some ACC officials, such a move would violate league bylaws and undermine the ACC’s legal case for collecting its $52 million exit fee from the Terps.
So unless Maryland is prepared to write that check, which university officials say they are not, the Terps most likely will compete in the ACC for the 2013-14 sports year.
None of the Big East drama this week affects Syracuse and Pittsburgh’s plans to exit the conference and join the ACC in 2013, giving the ACC 14 teams for football.
When Notre Dame arrives as the 15th basketball school, the conference schedule will be 18 games. Teams will have two partners they play twice every season. In addition to those four annual games against partners, the remaining 14 conference games will include two each with two rotating opponents and one each against the remaining 10, five home and five away.
The partners are as follow.
Boston College: Notre Dame and Syracuse.
Clemson: Florida State and Georgia Tech.
Duke: North Carolina and Wake Forest.
Florida State: Clemson and Miami.
Georgia Tech: Clemson and Notre Dame.
Maryland: Pitt and Virginia.
Miami: Florida State and Virginia Tech.
North Carolina: Duke and North Carolina State.
N.C. State: North Carolina and Wake Forest.
Notre Dame: Boston College and Georgia Tech.
Pitt: Maryland and Syracuse.
Syracuse: Boston College and Pitt.
Virginia: Virginia Tech and Maryland.
Virginia Tech: Virginia and Miami.
Wake Forest: Duke and N.C. State.
In 2014-15, Louisville replaces Maryland and becomes partners with Pitt and Virginia.
With 15 teams, the ACC tournament will start with three first-round games Wednesday between seeds 10-15. Those winners join seeds 5-9 for Thursday’s four second-round games. The top four seeds have byes into Friday’s quarterfinals.
If the ACC remains at 14 for basketball in 2013-14, then Wednesday’s opening round of the tournament becomes two instead of three games. The regular-season league schedule would be 18 games, playing five teams twice and eight once.
The only guaranteed home-and-home pairings would be Virginia-Virginia Tech, Duke-North Carolina, Wake Forest-N.C. State, Clemson-Georgia Tech, Miami-Florida State, Maryland-Pittsburgh and Syracuse-Boston College.
How soon does the ACC need to know whether Notre Dame is available for 2013-14? No later than the end of January, the league source said.
That’s darn little time given realignment’s legal and financial entanglements.
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