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.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.