Notre Dame will remain a football independent but will agree to play multiple football games each season against opponents from the ACC. The agreement is part of a conference realignment deal with will see Notre Dame leave the Big East and join the ACC.
Notre Dame is a member of the Big East in all sports except for football, and they will retain the same relationship with the ACC once they can officially make the move to join Duke, North Carolina and more in their new conference home. The Big East requires a 27-month waiting period for schools to leave the conference but West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse have all wiggled through that restriction over the past six months. There is no reason to expect Notre Dame will be able to do the same, possibly allowing Notre Dame to join the ACC when Pittsburgh and Syracuse join as full league members in the 2013-14 athletic seasons.
Initial word suggests Notre Dame will play five games each season against ACC opponents, meaning games against Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech and more could be routine. This would also allow Notre Dame to retain their historic rivalries with Navy, USC and Stanford, but could put some Big Ten rich rivalries in some scheduling danger, including Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. Essentially Notre Dame is only responsible for filling seven games on their schedule now, and that means less stress on the program trying to fill future schedules. With a preference to remain playing Navy, USC and Stanford, those Big Ten match-ups could take a back seat. Each ACC school will be guaranteed a Notre Dame game every three years.
The Fighting Irish also get to set their own bowl partnerships, and cash in their own bowl games played in without having to distribute funds. The Orange Bowl already has a tie-in with the ACC, so it remains unlikely the bowl would try to set up a deal to have Notre Dame as a partial partner as once suspected.
The ACC has also announced an increase in the fee to leave the conference to three times the annual operating budget, which would be over $50 million.
Kevin McGuire is a national college football writer for Examiner.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Submit your mailbag questions via Tumblr. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.