Matriculating in Miami

Matriculating in Miami

When the Big 10 raided the Pac-12 for UCLA and USC, I was one of those people who was staunchly against the Miami Hurricanes leaving the ACC for greener pastures and joining a super conference. Some of Miami’s best years as an athletic force in football came when we were independent or in an itty-bitty conference like the Big East. There is some nostalgia in being the bosses of our own domain. I remember those days quite fondly. I tend to prefer to go against the grain and not want to conform to what everyone else is doing. Historically, the University of Miami Hurricanes have been in the business of setting trends, not following them. For all my anglers and fishers out there, I love to be the big fish in my own pond. We as the Canes family thrived in that harsh environment no matter how lonely it seemed. Even though Miami wears the black eye of never having won the ACC Football championship since joining it, the U’s brand carries some serious weight in the ACC. Plus, our basketball playing brothers have had our backs from an ACC title winning perspective.

However, the deal that the Big 10 Conference just struck with its new media partners after leaving ESPN made my mandible hit the floor so fast that I am 93% sure I have a hairline fracture in my chin bone. $7,000,000,000 plus for 7 years??? In actuality, the number is closer to $8 billion than it is to $7 billion, but who is counting? That, is an obscene amount of money for a conference and the Big 10 institutions will be swimming in money when this deal kicks in. This deal rivals the NFL’s package when you compare how much NFL teams make annually from their TV rights deal to how much the educational institutions of the BIG 10 will earn annually.

The Big 10 conference will have a decided advantage in reinvesting in their athletic product offerings, which I am sure CBS, NBC, and FOX are hoping will translate into competitive and compelling games in the not too far future. Big Ten schools will be able to recruit the best talent and get maximum exposure for their student athletes who love to perform on the brightest stages. No wonder USC and UCLA took the money and ran from the Pac whatever number it is now. The schools who built Hollywood know all about what performing under the bright lights can do for your brand. It all makes clear sense to me now; I would have done the same.

This major move by the Big 10 has undoubtedly put them in pole position to ascertain the membership of the currently independent Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Before today’s bombshell I would have given the nod to the ACC. Notre Dame is already in the ACC for all other sports outside of football. Notre Dame schedules numerous ACC teams every football season, which is seen by some as a pseudo-conference schedule. Also, the ACC banked massive goodwill with Notre Dame by allowing them to temporarily join the conference with all the bells and whistles of being a full member during the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season. Notre Dame even played Clemson in the ACC Championship game that year and upon completion of that game, Notre Dame was promptly given back their independent status.

Nevertheless, this is business, not personal. Notre Dame cannot afford to think with their heart on this one, they must go with the pragmatically calculated best option assessed in their heads. Therefore, it has to be the Big 10. $400 million and more primetime exposure is just too much to decline membership in the Big Ten. Notre Dame academically identifies well with the Big 10. As a midwestern team hailing from South Bend, IN, the Irish share a lot in common geographically and culturally with the rest of the Big 10. Couple that with the money and it is a no brainer. Higher shared revenue and less traveling overhead? Who would say no to that? It is not as if Notre Dame isn’t used to going out west and playing USC practically every other year already.

Thursday’s news about the Big 10’s TV rights deal was essentially the opening salvo of the finale for the ACC. As the great Winston Churchill once said, “now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.” The opening moves made by the SEC and Big 10 conferences have inevitably brought us to this point and their flawless execution of the game’s opening has concluded. We are in the endgame now Stephen Strange. I was hoping to hear that the ACC would be forming their own third super conference by inviting some of the most prominent remaining members of the Big 12 and Pac 12, adding Notre Dame, and pairing those teams with the current ACC member schools. After doing so they would have acquired leverage to renegotiate the ACC Network’s paltry by comparison media deal with ESPN.

We watch the ACC Network because we have to, not because we want to. Let’s face it, some of the commentating talent (with the exception of Coach Richt and EJ Manuel) is downright boring. Listening to Hasselbeck call a game is like sanding down hardwood floors in a French countryside chateau. Meanwhile Fox has Gus Johnson screaming life into procedural penalties thrown by a referee that the other team is clearly going to decline. I personally believe that now that Herbstreit will get a taste of calling NFL Thursday Night Football games for Amazon, he could be the next exceptional talent to leave ESPN. None of this is good for the product that the ACC and ESPN want to distribute. The Miami Hurricanes must get ahead of this before it is too late and the ACC becomes otiose. The Canes cannot get stuck holding all these worthless pink sheet stock shares after everyone has already dumped theirs. I never thought I would be saying this, but Miami needs to make a move. Now!

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