ACC legal battles could open door for more Big Ten expansion

If you thought the Big Ten was going to settle in an 18-team membership following this year’s additions of Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington, you are probably fooling yourself. Expansion could be looming on the horizon once again if things in the ACC continue on the path they seem to be heading.

Florida State previously opened a significant legal battle challenging the ACC on its grant of rights. If Florida State is successful, it would open the doors for a potential mass exodus from the ACC to the Big Ten or SEC in a similar fashion to what happened in the Pac-12, although perhaps not quite as devastating in the grand scheme.

Florida State is not alone in its legal challenge of the ACC, however. Clemson officially joined the battle this week with its own lawsuit filed in South Carolina, potentially opening the door for Clemson and Florida State to carve a path to leave the ACC in search of greener pastures in the Big Ten or SEC. And if Clemson and Florida State do force their way out, then it stands to reason others in the ACC would explore their options as well, including North Carolina.

And, of course, this somehow all gets back to the future of Notre Dame as well.

SEC Network analyst and radio host Paul Finebaum created a stir suggesting Notre Dame is inching closer and closer to having to make a big decision on its future with football independence or conference membership. As Finebaum suggests, and something I’ve been saying for years, at some point Notre Dame’s leaders will have to realize that it is far more profitable and beneficial for the school to be a member of a conference than it is to be an independent. Considering the revenue shares that Big Ten and SEC schools receive compare to the revenue Notre Dame football generates, it has to fiscal sense to at least strongly consider ditching football independence in the evolving world of college sports.

This would especially be true if the ACC cracks with its membership. Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in most of its other sports (although it is a Big Ten school in ice hockey), but if members start leaving the ACC, it would make sense for Notre Dame to look for a more stable future.

The Big Ten would be the natural landing spot for Notre Dame, one might think. This is especially true if a crumbling ACC loses Stanford and Cal to the Big Ten amid potential realignment changes. The Big Ten adding Stanford, Cal, North Carolina, and Notre Dame would be a decent haul overall.

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Story originally appeared on Nittany Lions Wire