Notre Dame has long relished its football independence, and a new scheduling agreement with the ACC would allow them to keep that status while being more closely tied to a BCS conference.

The Fighting Irish have agreed to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football, similar to the arrangement they currently have with the Big East. However, in a move that could shake up some of college football’s longest-running rivalries, Notre Dame has agreed to annually play five football games against ACC opponents.

Notre Dame has long had rivalry games with schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, USC, Stanford and Navy. With this new arrangement, it is likely that one or more of those games will go by the wayside. The Irish are already scheduled to play several ACC teams, including Boston College and Wake Forest on an annual basis and Pittsburgh (moving to the ACC next year) and Miami this season.

While Notre Dame has struggled on the football field in recent years, the Irish are still one of sport's biggest power brokers. This move gives some instant clout to the ACC as a conference, which will be made even stronger by an announcement that the conference was raising its exit fee to more than $50 million, three times the conference’s annual operating budget. This will make it almost impossible for a team to leave the conference, thus providing some long-need stability to the ACC.