Dominoes Begin to Fall, Notre Dame Not Affected… Yet

The dominoes have begun to fall in the seismic shift in the conference landscape of college football many have been predicting for months, but so far none of the moves will impact Notre Dame’s football independence. That could change, however, depending on how the rest of the dominoes fall.

Conference Realignment Affecting Notre Dame
The long awaited conference realignment of 2010 has gotten underway, but so far nothing that has happened has really affected Notre Dame's independance. Where Texas ends up, however, could. (Photo - IconSMI)

So far the only conference to be hit hard by realignment is the Big XII. Colorado left the conference for the PAC 10 on Thursday and on Friday Nebraska followed suit and bolted for the Big 10 – a conference that now has 12 teams.

Texas, another Big XII elite program, is reported to be headed to the PAC 10 as well as early as Tuesday. Texas officials, however have been quick to comment that it is premature to make any definitive reports about what their intentions are.

Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M have all been rumored to be following Texas and Colorado as well. Boise State also made a little bit of noise as well on Friday by moving from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference.

Get all of that?

For now it just appears as though the Big XII will end up disbanding while the PAC 10 appears to possibly be headed towards becoming the PAC 16 with the addition of some elite programs. Should the chips fall as they appear to be headed, the PAC 10 would become one of the most dominant conferences in the country with USC (sanctions and all), Oregon, Oklahoma, and Texas headlining their conference. Throw in the other solid PAC 10 programs and up and coming programs like Stanford and things look pretty solid for them.

With the high power offenses allegedly about to join the conference though, don’t expect to see the PAC 10’s reputation for poor defense to improve at all.

The Big 10 meanwhile has added one of college football’s most storied programs in Nebraska. While the Cornhuskers have been down since Tom Osborne’s retirement, they appear to be headed in the right direction under the guidance of Bo Pellini.  If Nebraska rejoins the nation’s elite, the Big 10 will have four headline programs as well with Nebraska joining Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. Michigan of course will have to rejoin the nation’s elite to really make that group formidable though.

The real question for Notre Dame fans though is how does all of this affect Notre Dame’s long standing football independence. The short answer for now anyway is it doesn’t.

Jack Swarbrick was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying, “There’s been nothing at all that’s happened that directly impacts us or our evaluation of what’s going on,” on Friday afternoon.

The bottom line remains, unless Notre Dame is somehow forced into joining a conference, it doesn’t appear they will remain independant. If next week brings more radical changes to the conference landscape and teams from the Big East start to get cherry picked by other conferences, then things could change.

In the same report, Swarbrick noted, “We continue to be focused on trying to do what we can to maintain our football independence and ensure the long-term viability of the Big East.”

The reason the Big East is vital to Notre Dame’s independence is because the conference allows Notre Dame to remain affiliated with its conference for all sports other than football – something none of the other BCS conferences would likely accommodate. Should something change to affect the Big East, the conference could change its mind.

For instance, say the ACC decides it wants to form its own super conference similar to the PAC 10 and picks off a couple of Big East teams. The Big East could be forced into a position where they make Notre Dame join the conference for all sports of none or face a fate similar to that of the Big XII.  Some Big East coaches such as UConn’s randy Edsall have already been quoted as saying Notre Dame should join the conference for all sports or leave.

It’s also possible that these super conferences could expand their conference schedules limiting their members’ out of conference schedules. Such a scenario could force Notre Dame towards a conference by making it extremely difficult to schedule marquee opponents.

A key here for Notre Dame is where Texas ends up. Should the Longhorns indeed join the PAC 10 and not the Big 10, as some had speculated throughout the week, Notre Dame’s chances of being lured to the conference will decrease drastically. A conference with Texas, Nebraska, Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan might be an attractive option for Notre Dame if it’s pushed towards a conference.

Without Texas, however, there doesn’t appear to be any more attractive dance partners for the Irish in a Big 10 move.

For now though, the important thing is that nothing has happened to force Notre Dame’s hand and all indications are that Notre Dame will remain independent until forced otherwise.

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  1. I wish ND would join a conference. I know it wouldnt be much a gain but it would shut the haters up. For all the Big East comments, everyone knows it’s a basketball conference, why would ND ever consider joining the big east? It’s a very weak football conference that has nothing to offer. What about the ACC would’nt that be a good fit academically? They would make a good fit, it also has a good b-ball program. I just wish all the ND haters would shut up and get a life! GO IRISH!!!!!

  2. Consider a 16 team conference with 8 teams in 2 divisions. You play 7 opponents and have 5 open games. ND could still play USC, Miami, Navy ( to honor the WWII commitment ), and 2 other teams. I’m assuming the Big 10.

    Personally, I’d rather see a new Big East that had all top teams from Indiana East and Virginia North. ND, MSU, UofM, OSU, Indiana, PSU, Syracuse, BC, UConn, Rutgers, Pitt, WVU, Virginia, Vtech, Maryland, Cincy.

    Who’d I leave out? Drop Indiana and/or Cincy for 1 or 2. Hmmm……

  3. No to dropping USC from Notre Dame’s schedule. We have them where we want the, and we owe them some losses. Let it happen.

  4. Notre Dame, like it or not, needs to decide what it’s going to do here … if Texas, OU, and Texas A+M bolt for the SEC, I think it’s in the best interest of the University, IMO, to join the Big Ten (12, really).

    Notre Dame IS already a part of the Big Ten, even if they don’t want to admit it. Hell, I’m from Warsaw, Indiana, and we all know this fact.

    But, everyone has opinions, so whatever. How about we all agree to disagree here?


    1. Notre Dame should on;y join the Big 10 if we are allowed not to participate in the academic research consortium except on specific projects. Not too many know this unless you are an alum, but we alums are the ones who voted down the Big 10 invitation in the 90s. The Board of Trustees wanted it. But the Big 10 forces it’s members to particiapte in research any member may be involved in. ND could be called upon to be part of embryonic stem cell research. Not sure if you all know but that is immoral according to the laws of the Church and for many of us, the laws of God. Last I knew, the Laws of God trump the Big 10 or any other form of entertainment.

      So ND would need special consideration to join the Big 10. Personally, I wouldn’t mind ND being in just football for the Big 10.

  5. The Big East does not have a trumph card pertaining to ND. The Big East’s so called (obviously fragile) aspirations could easily backfire also. The media has been a party to advocating this wishful drama to no avail. The talking heads over at ESPN would love to see ND’s position change. Hopefully, USC will now provide enough red meat for the time being. Although, ND and many other teams really need to make a statement and drop USC off their schedules. USC’s behavior is nothing less than an outright cancer for college football; they still don’t get it.

  6. The economic effects are weighing heavily with these moves. Nebraska stems to double their revenue with the move to the Big Ten.

  7. Why doesn’t the Big East take some initiative and go after UCF, Temple, East Carolina, Marshall, and the academies? I know the academies won’t likely accept, and none of those schools are comparable in basketball to the Big East, but at least it would show they possess the instinct of self-preservation (unlike the Big 12) and the four likeliest targets have some potential in football.

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