Notre Dame to ACC: 'Fighting Irish' a yawn in D.C.

John Swofford, left, ACC commissioner, shakes hands with Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame president.

In the week since Notre Dame and the Atlantic Coast Conference announced their asterisk-included union, the reaction has been a daily dose of, well, reaction – giddy reaction, mind you -- in most every ACC town on the map.

Sure, the Fighting Irish aren’t “all in” for football as they are for all other sports, but a mandated five-game minimum against ACC members is something, and to have Notre Dame come to your campus every few years is no yawner.

And then there’s us.

The D.C. area.


We don’t get it. We don’t get it because we see Notre Dame all the time, regardless of this ACC deal thing. As Big East members, the Irish were regular Georgetown hoops foes. Up the road in Annapolis, Notre Dame is just another annual football opponent, like Army.

We don’t get it because the Nationals have the best record in Major League Baseball, because RG III is happening, because Alex Ovechkin isn’t happening and because the Wizards, um, never mind.

Here’s a telling example. On the one hand, John Feinstein, writing in the Washington Post earlier this week, more or less dismissed the significance of the union and credited Notre Dame for more or less playing the ACC.

He wrote: “Even though Notre Dame will play only five conference teams a season — which, for the record, is one more than it will play this season if you count incoming member Pittsburgh as an ACC team — one might think the ACC had just gone from a mediocre football conference to a top-drawer football conference. Guess what? The ACC just went from being a mediocre football conference to being a mediocre football conference — with a tad more glamour attached.”

On the other hand, consider the opinion of noted columnist Mark Bradley, writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the hometown paper for ACC member Georgia Tech.

He wrote: “In yet another display of clever thinking, ACC commissioner John Swofford pursued the school that every conference would kill to get, but they approached Notre Dame at an angle. You can join our league and stay a football independent, he said, but you’ll play five regular-season games against our membership and — big key — you’ll be eligible for bowl selection as one of ours. . . There’s no conference that wouldn’t benefit from adding the biggest of brand names. John Swofford’s conference is the one that did. On the day he spoke of “a changing landscape,” he effected the biggest change.”

And then there’s this, from longtime Virginia sports columnist David Teel, writing in the Daily Press.

“Last September, Swofford called the ACC’s additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse “monumental.” He used the same word Wednesday. He was right then. He is more right now.”

So, outside the Beltway, this is a big deal.

Inside the Beltway? Not so much.

Bottom line?

This is a big deal, and it’s a good one for the ACC.