With the news that Notre Dame was joining the ACC, came the news that the ACC had raised their exit fee to $50million, effective immediately. These two factors, in conjunction with one another, are all but the final blow to any hopes the University of Louisville had for moving to another league. The time has come for Cardinal fans to settle in, and learn to be satisfied with where we are. The time has come for Cardinal fans to start thinking about ways that the situation we are in can be made better.
There were, after the Big12 settled in on 10 members, two realistic possibilities for Louisville escaping the Big East.
1. That the Big12 be forced into playing a conference Championship game, either by their agreement with the SEC to play the Champions Bowl, or by way of the new playoff system requiring it for inclusion. We now know that neither one of those caveats were mandated.
2. That some other big "Name" program made the move to the Big12, and brought us along with them.
Neither one of those possibilities were a given, even if their triggers occurred. The truth is, that the Big12 would have preferred to have Notre Dame, Florida State, or any number of other schools not named Louisville. Clemson, Georgia Tech, or Virginia Tech all come to mind as schools that were mentioned in rumors of the Big12 looking east.
Now that the ACC has solidified its league, no team is leaving the ACC for the price it would cost them. No team is leaving the ACC with the guarantee that they'll be molly-coddled by NBC/ESPN/ABC once every three years when they find Notre Dame on their schedule. For us, more important than any of that, is the realization that there is no money to be made for the Big12 by adding Louisville to their league.
Let me say that again. There is no extra money for the Big12 members in adding Louisville. In fact, if the big 12 added Louisville, their members would lose money. Louisville doesn't carry enough clout to get more out of their TV partners, and going to 12 for a Championship game would only give the current members, by most estimates, another 1million dollars. At this point, it's simple math. $20 million/ school annually, and $16.6 million/ school if they expand to 12. That's all you need to know.
Performance doesn't matter. The fact that our football program, basketball program, and athletic facilities are all better than other programs that have been included into one of the "Big 5,".... simply doesn't matter. Our academic situation isn't good enough for the ACC even if they wanted to add another program, which they don't. They have Notre Dame as a part time member. If they wanted to add another full member they would need to add two in order to keep their Championship game. The Big 12 doesn't stand to make any money from our addition, and that pretty much seals our Big East fate.
This whole thing has been about money from the start. Unless someone can show me a way that the Big12 stands to make more money, or more importantly not lose money, with the addition of Louisville,.... then I am resigned to believe that we are where we are for the foreseeable future. Does that suck? Yes, for many reasons that you already know, none of which is greater than the thought of losing Charlie Strong.
I'd like to think that there was something else that could be done, but I just don't see it. Maybe someone else does, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and Louisville will be Big12 bound, but at this point I will not move forward thinking that it's a possibility. I will choose instead to support my team with the same zeal that I always have, no matter what conference they're in. I encourage all Cardinal fans to do the same.