The Big Board: The value of Notre Dame

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
3:06
PM ET
The easiest way for Florida State athletics director Randy Spetman to capture the importance of the ACC's new agreement with Notre Dame was to offer an alternative.

"If you woke up this morning and read that Notre Dame had gone to the Big 12 or the Big Ten, what would you think of the ACC today?" Spetman said.

From the national branding to the name recognition to the rich history and Hollywood lore, Notre Dame brings a level of cache that the ACC didn't want to lose.

But amid all the buzz that followed the announcement that the Irish would join the ACC in all sports except football -- where they'll play five games per year -- what was largely ignored was that Notre Dame simply hasn't been a very good football program in the past two decades.

For Florida State fans, the two programs will be forever intertwined thanks to the "Game of the Century" in 1993. Notre Dame prevailed, but was felled a week later by Boston College, and in the end, it was Florida State that hoisted the national championship trophy.

It might be unfair to say that was the beginning of the end for Notre Dame, but what's followed has been mostly bleak: Seven head coaches (including George O'Leary, who never coached a game before being fired), just two bowl wins and never a whiff of a national championship.

In fact, after parsing through all the off-field cache that comes from the new agreement, what the ACC is getting from Notre Dame on the field isn't so impressive.

Here's how the Irish have fared since that fateful 1993 season:

But even much of that is ancient history. TV audiences and high school recruits don't put much stock in what happened in the 1990s.

So let's compare Notre Dame with FSU over that time.

Essentially, Notre Dame has averaged seven wins a year for more than a decade. Virtually no big-time program in the nation has fared worse in bowl games. And even when compared to what is widely considered one of the dark periods in FSU history, the Seminoles have far outperformed Notre Dame during the past 11 years.

In fact, Notre Dame's 77 wins from 2001 through 2011 are exactly the same number of games won by Maryland during that stretch -- and odds are, the Terps wouldn't have gotten the same type of buzz if they'd jumped ship for another conference.

Overall, Notre Dame would rank around the middle of the pack in the ACC in wins over the past 11 years.

Are those numbers the ACC should be excited about? Surely not. But then again, those were never the numbers the conference was interested in to begin with.

The bottom line is the success or failure of Notre Dame's affiliation with the ACC will be about TV revenue and ticket sales, and on those points, the Irish still carry plenty of box-office punch.

"This gives us a stronghold on that to renegotiate our (TV) contract, where had we stayed with our current members, we may not have the status that we could go," Spetman said. "So I think this is a real positive for our conference."

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