Notre Dame joins ACC, retains football independence

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Notre Dame joins ACC, retains football independence

Notre Dame has a new conference, but it's staying independent in football.

The ACC accepted Notre Dame as its 15th member Wednesday morning, and the Irish will move all their non-football programs there from the Big East. Additionally, Notre Dame will play five football games against ACC opponents each year, which isn't a huge leap -- the Irish play three ACC schools in 2012, just as they did in 2011. And Pittsburgh is a future ACC member, too, so it could even be viewed as Notre Dame playing four on their schedule.

"We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us," said athletic director Jack Swarbrick in a statement released by the ACC. "We are able to maintain our historic independence in football, join in the ACC's non-BCS bowl package, and provide a new and extremely competitive home for our other sports."

Notre Dame's non-football programs had competed in the Big East since 1995, but with the conference losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC and adding the likes of Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple, Notre Dame clearly wanted to be a part of a conference with more familiar faces.

"The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them," said Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., in a statement. "With a mix of institutions - many of which are also private, similar to Notre Dame in size, and committed to excellence in research and undergraduate education - the ACC is an exceptionally good fit for us academically, as well as athletically."

In adding Notre Dame, the ACC Council of Presidents voted to raise exit fee from the conference, and that number likely will be in excess of 50 million. While the Big 12 was picked apart and the Big East decimated by conference realignment, the ACC has remained strong and appears a permanent home for the Irish.

Notre Dame was linked to the Big 12 as rumors flew during the last few years of conference realignment, with a deal similar to the one now hammered out with the ACC being thought about. Ultimately, the Big 12 never made much sense, especially if the door was always open for a move to the ACC.

How the five-game agreement affects Notre Dame's football schedule remains to be seen, but most likely it means the Irish won't play as many Midwestern opponents going forward. USC, Stanford and Navy are all likely to remain on Notre Dame's schedule, and the Irish are committed to play Arizona State at Cowboys Stadium next year.

Notre Dame and Michigan scheduled a two-year break for 2018 and 2019, and the two schools never officially signed a reported agreement that would lock them in to play each other through 2030. There's certainly a chance Notre Dame uses the ACC as a way to get Michigan -- along with Michigan State andor Purdue -- off their football schedule.

Take the 2013 schedule as an example (assuming the deal begins in 2013 -- Notre Dame only has one ACC opponent on their slate, that being Pittsburgh (which joins the conference next year). Notre Dame will have to fit in four other ACC opponents while likely trying to not drop USC, Stanford, Navy and Arizona State. That makes games against Temple, Michigan, Purdue, Oklahoma, Air Force and BYU up in the air -- the Irish probably won't drop Oklahoma, which they'll play this October in Norman.

Big changes are coming for Notre Dame, but the biggest one was announced Wednesday morning. Stay tuned.

Bulls erase recent struggles, hand Spurs first road loss of season

Bulls erase recent struggles, hand Spurs first road loss of season

Jimmy Butler kicked his legs out and the ball swirled around, and around and stopped…before rolling in after the official’s whistle blew for a foul.

The pushback from the rim on an imperfect night for Butler seemed to capture his feelings perfectly

The San Antonio Spurs stalked the Bulls after sleepwalking for 24 minutes, and Kawhi Leonard will probably be in Butler’s nightmares as he shadowed the two-time all-star all night — as the league’s best out-of-nowhere two-way players battled all night.

Butler went scoreless in the first half and his streak of 20-point games ended at 15 but he came away with the most important statistic as the Bulls ended their three-game losing streak and the Spurs’ 13-0 road streak to start the season with a perfectly predictable 94-88 win at the United Center Thursday night.

Dwyane Wade led the Bulls with 20 points, including a couple buckets when the Bulls were reeling late and needing some stability in the worst way, hitting Taj Gibson for an inside dunk with two minutes remaining.

This is what the Bulls do, author improbable storybook endings on national TV against quality opponents when the odds are stacked against them and public conversation begins to sway in the other direction after some puzzling losses.

But with Doug McDermott back after missing 11 games and the stage of a national audience at home — the night was tailor-made for the Bulls to pull out a win like this, even without Butler being his usual self.

Butler scored 13 with nine rebounds, including two on the offensive end while the Bulls were trying to seal the win, with four assists and two steals in 38 minutes.

Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP for his work against LeBron James, was the only starter aside from Pau Gasol to get a rhythm in a rhythmless game, scoring 24 with eight rebounds and five assists while doggedly defending Butler.

Leonard had two straight ridiculous 3-point plays that seemed awkward and prayer-like but pulled the Spurs to within six midway through the fourth quarter, pulling the Spurs back from an 18-point deficit.

It seemed like the Spurs were sleeping and just waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the Bulls, and of course, the expectation was for a Bulls collapse considering how putrid their fourth quarters have been recently.

Patty Mills kept shaking free of the Bulls defense to hit four triples while the Bulls couldn’t fully pull away, despite all five starters scoring in double figures and Rajon Rondo coming an assist shy of getting a triple-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

They won’t have many games where Butler and Wade aren’t the headliners, but then again, they won’t have many games where the defense actually picks up the slack against one of the more disciplined offensive teams in the league

Butler didn’t score until midway through the third quarter, finally shaking free of Leonard in semi-transition for a short jumper to put the Bulls up 60-47.

But the Spurs began to wake up and nearly did more than make the Bulls sweat. But in these early tilts, the more desperate team usually wins.

And although the Bulls don’t want to admit it, they needed to play like a desperate team.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score) and David Schuster (670 The Score) joined David Kaplan on the SportsTalk Live panel for Thursday's show.

Baseball’s winter meetings are over. Could Rick Hahn have done more this week? Plus which closer will have a better season- current Cubs closer Wade Davis or former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman?

How much upheaval will there be on the Bears’ coaching staff this offseason? Plus are the Bulls in slump or are we finally seeing the real team show up?

Listen to this episode of the SportsTalk Live podcast here: