ESPN reported on Sunday that the Big 12 is making a final stand by trying to convince Texas and other schools looking to leave the conference to stay in the conference which would now be reduced to 10 teams. Such a move would all but kill any talk of Notre Dame having to abandon it’s long standing independence in the near future
Beebe (Big 12 Commissioner) has been told the loss earlier this week of Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-10 could diminish the value of the Big 12 by as little as 8 to 10 percent.
Beebe is stressing the value of sharing revenue with fewer schools and collecting and distributing the departure penalties of Nebraska and Colorado, the source said.
Should Beebe be successful in keeping the Big 12 together, the chances of Notre Dame joining a conference anytime soon would be reduced to next to nothing.
As recent as Friday, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said that none of the realignment moves that occurred at the end of the week affected Notre Dame’s stance on its independence. The Big 12 staying together would only reaffirm Swarbrick’s and Notre Dame’s position.
Throughout all of the realignment talk that has taken place over the last few months, every Notre Dame representative from Swarbrick to head coach Brian Kelly has sang the praises of Notre Dame’s independence. The only way Notre Dame would join a conference would be if they were back into a corner and forced to or if they were presented an opportunity they couldn’t refuse.
Texas is really the key here. If Beebe convinces Texas to stay within the Big 12, the massive realignment many have been bracing for could be over just as quickly as it started last week. The Longhorns are really the prized possession in all of this realignment. The Pac 10 added Colorado and the Big 10 added Nebraska last week, but Texas is the bell of the ball for both conferences. The potential television revenue that Texas can bring to a conference in the form of a major market for a conference TV network such as the Big 10 Network is huge.
Without Texas though, both the Big 10 and Pac 10 could be done adding schools – at least for now. If that is the case, Notre Dame’s independence won’t be threatened at all.
If Texas and the other Big 12 schools end up leaving and the conference ends up being disbanded, then there could still be a chance Notre Dame gets backed into a corner. At that point, we’d just have to sit back and see how the rest of the dominoes fall.
As I mentioned Friday, the one conference to keep the closest eye right now for Notre Dame is the Big East. If realignment doesn’t affect the Big East at all, the Notre Dame admin won’t be forced into making the very difficult decision regarding a conference. Notre Dame needs a conference partner for its non-football sports and its unlikely another major conference would be willing to accommodate a deal like Notre Dame’s with the Big East.
Texas and Texas Tech’s board of regents will both meet on Tuesday to discuss their conference affiliations while Oklahoma’s will meet on Wednesday. The results of those meetings could squash the Notre Dame conference rumors in their tracks or only add more fuel to the fire.
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