Back Brando, Spurrier, and the Irish

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Brando, Spurrier, and the Irish

By Jacob Shoor
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Notre Dame appears to simply be counting down the days until the program becomes a full member of the ACC.

The best sports talk show on TV is Tim Brando's. I made certain to catch the show on Monday, July 22 because Brando had been on vacation for a couple of weeks. I expected something fairly big, and it was delivered within the first half hour.

On the phone, Brando spoke with Tony Barnhart, who was at the ACC Media Days. Rather quickly, the issue raised by Steve Spurrier at the SEC's Media Days regarding Notre Dame getting treated by the BCS as if it were a conference unto itself was addressed by Brando and Barnhart.

The Ol' Ball Coach delivers his snarky quips and assessments not just to get chuckles and dig at foes. Many times he does so to use humor to make a serious point. And I have no doubt that Spurrier is deadly serious in his joking opposition to college football's post-season treating Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick as if he were essentially a conference commissioner.

The talk of the 14 SEC football coaches voting unanimously to have Notre Dame become a full member of ACC football, thereby ending all possibility of the Irish being granted what no other single school could hope to get, is doubly important. The message is that the SEC, this century's king of college football quality in a way that no other conference has ever dreamed of approaching, will not sit by idly while Notre Dame is allowed to assume a unique mantle in the new order.

To be specific, what not merely all SEC coaches but officials of all other major conference schools intend to avoid is Notre Dame being granted even more special status than it had under the old BCS system. It was bad enough then, when Notre Dame was not in any sense a member of Big East football and so not represented by the Big East, being represented by its AD essentially as if it alone were the equal of any conference. But now that Notre Dame football is a 5/8ths member of ACC football, it is represented by John Swofford. Swofford, who continues to pull off victories in the conference realignment wars that few feel anybody could manage, representing the interests of Notre Dame football, which he must do because Notre Dame football is now bound up with all of ACC football, while Notre Dame also gets represented by its own AD is beyond unfair: it is offensive.

Steve Spurrier is the guy with the history of funny digs and shots who got to take the very public poke at Notre Dame, making it clear that at some point the rest of major college football will stop facilitating Irish desires to have their cake while eating it too.

It was a given that the first question Swofford would face at ACC Media Days was about Notre Dame. The only part of his answer that should surprise anyone, and that on reflection should seem rather obvious to all, is that at least through the Grant of Rights period (2026-27), should Notre Dame join any conference for full membership in football, it must be the ACC.

The something big delivered by Tim Brando in his first half hour back after a nice vacation is his assertion that he thinks Notre Dame will be a full member of ACC football within a decade.

Those who continue to assume that Notre Dame will never make such a move may not have taken into consideration what the future relationship of the five major conferences to the NCAA will mean. They probably do not take Spurrier's rambling fun at Notre Dame's expense as representing the SEC's growing dissatisfaction with the very idea of Notre Dame securing a type of double representation.

Nor have they grasped what the now seemingly universal talk of major overhaul of the NCAA in terms of its relationships to major football schools can, and most likely will, mean to Notre Dame. Any new beginning, and not merely a secession of the major conference schools from the NCAA, will be seen by the large and more openly hostile faction that cannot abide the Irish with even the hint of special status as the reason to strip Notre Dame of everything that all other schools also do not have. And none of them have an AD sitting in as if he were a conference commissioner.

Obviously, preventing Jack Swarbrick and his successors from sitting in on meetings with the commissioners of the major conferences will not force Notre Dame to go full member in ACC football. But ending specially protected status will reverberate.

I have said for approximately a decade - back to when the ACC was expanding to 11 and then 12 - that the changes rushing headlong over college athletics would mean that eventually Notre Dame would be compelled to accept that its best long term interests for the athletics department as a whole, for the university as a whole, would be to embrace conference football membership. The only viable choices for it always have been the ACC and the Big Ten. Because of Notre Dame's preferences and needs to associate and partner with multiple private schools, and with schools of various sizes, the original Big East would have been better for it than the Big Ten.

And that means that everyone who is a major player - Swarbrick, Swofford, Delaney, Slive, Dodds, Bowlsby, Scott, etc.  - knows that the day Notre Dame agreed to have the ACC schedule five of its football games per year was the day that the clock began ticking to the countdown when the Irish would begin playing to win ACC football championships. That's what Tim Brando means when he says he believes the Irish will be full members of ACC football within a decade.

Spurrier was doing nothing more than his normal smart aleck schtick, in this case hoping to spur conversation that will nudge Swarbrick into getting the ball rolling quicker. Spurrier and his large and very powerful ilk are itching to get the new system up and running with no glitches, no stragglers dragging their feet and causing issues for the rest.

Jacob Shoor - Jacob Shoor a Tennessee native and UNC graduate who is now semi-retired and living back in Tennessee after having lived since his UNC days in SWC country and Big 8 country, as well as both SC and NC. Other than ACC sports and SEC football, Jacob Shoor is a fan of the Tour de France, the French Open, and hurling (Ireland's biggest team sport).