Blog Entry

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk

Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 5:43 pm
When news broke Thursday that TCU was joining the Big 12 Conference instead of the Big East, it was just another domino in the latest craze sweeping across America: Conference realignment!

Another piece that might be teetering: Notre Dame.

For the Big East, losing TCU is another sucker punch to the groin or -- as Illinois’ Jonathan Brown prefers -- a knee to the groin.

Sure technically the Big East never really had TCU since the Horned Frogs weren’t officially joining the league until July 1, 2012, but the loss of what could have been is even more devastating for the Big East.

In the matter of weeks, the Big East has lost Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC and now TCU to the Big 12. And if Missouri leaves for the SEC, sources have told the Big 12 will likely add three more schools to get to 12 members. At the top of that list, sources said, is Louisville, along with a combination of BYU, West Virginia, Cincinnati or Tulane.

Losing Louisville and West Virginia or Cincinnati would likely be a fatal blow to the Big East's football BCS status. As damaging as these defections are to the Big East, it could have an even greater impact on the behemoth of college football.

Even before man invented fire, the Fighting Irish’s football program has been an independent. And Notre Dame plans on staying an independent until the galaxy explodes -- or until the Big East implodes -- whichever happens first.

So while the Big East’s pulse continues to weaken, Notre Dame could be forced to join a conference. The Fighting Irish have enjoyed the benefit of remaining a football independent, while their non-football sports competed in the Big East. Those days could be numbered.

"Certainly the factors that have contributed to the larger conference realignment continue to exist," Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick told the Associated Press on Wednesday, a day before the news about TCU leaving to the Big 12. "And we’re doing the same thing we’ve done throughout, monitoring them closely, and hoping that the Big East stays a vibrant and successful partner for us."

But if there’s no Big East, then Notre Dame becomes the Holy Grail of college football. The Big 12, the Big Ten, the ACC and the SEC would add the Fighting Irish yesterday. Heck, even the Pac-12’s Larry Scott would find a way to bring the Irish on board if he could.

I’ve maintained that as long as Notre Dame has a conference home to put its non-football or Olympic sports (men’s basketball, women’s basketball, etc.) in it will never join a conference. But things are about to get interesting for Notre Dame.

If the Big East no longer exists, Notre Dame will have two options: Join the Big 12/Big Ten/ACC/SEC as a full member or stay independent in football and join one of those conferences with its non-football sports.

It will depend on how bad Notre Dame cherishes its football independence, because I’m sure one of those four conferences would prefer Notre Dame as a non-football member (and the guarantee of Notre Dame being on those future football schedules) to having Notre Dame in another league.

Before TCU and the Big 12’s announcement on Thursday, Swarbrick said Wednesday Notre Dame needed to continue to support the league.

"They’re [the Big East] working on additions," he said. "You got to wait until the whole picture is shaped to really have a feel for it, for what that option is like. Just continue to support them and be involved in their planning and hope they wind up in a great place.

"It's great to make plans. It’s whether the people you might be interested in or the circumstances will allow you to achieve those plans. But certainly the way the conference is thinking and what it’s trying to achieve are consistent with what I think it needs to do."

That was Swarbrick’s view Wednesday. That all changed Thursday with TCU headed to the Big 12 and there are likely more changes ahead. The question remains: will it be enough to force Notre Dame to give up its independence?


Since: Nov 23, 2009
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:25 am

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk

I have no idea how all of this will end, but I do think it is time for ND to look at joining a conference and I think the logical choice is the Big Ten. The Big East is dying on the vine and I'm not sure that the Big 12 is going to be around a year from now either, at least not in anything resembling it's current form. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe revenue from the TV deal with NBC has been declining every year for a while now. The ND mystique is not what it was and until Kelly (or someone) puts them back in the hunt for the national championship every year it will only get worse. Of course, winning cures everything.

Notre Dame, despite it's many critics, is good for college football. And when they are winning, all of college football benefits. A conference alignment to build rivalries will only benefit ND and college football IMO.

And no, I am not an alumni or even a fan particularly, but I am non-partisan enough to acknowledge what ND brings to college football.  

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:22 am

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk

Yeah, I have to agree with toppdogg.  I don't see how the end of the Big East as a football conference would have any effect on Notre Dame.  It would actually cement the relationship they already have as a "non-football" member.  They would still play Georgetown, Providence, DePaul, St John's and everybody else in Basketball, Lacrosse, Crew, Women's Field Hockey, and whatever else is important to very expensive jesuit schools and the like.

Since: Oct 9, 2010
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:20 am

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk


The ACC voted unanimously to expand with Syracuse and Pitt.  I can't see any of the schools turning around and jumping to another conference just to maintain football status.  The move was pre-emptive after Texas A&M agreed to join the SEC they were worried that to even the divisions the SEC would convince one of the the schools to leave the ACC.  Not going to happen now.  Yes, the ACC is the premiere basketball conference but that is merely the by product of including two large state schools that are also solid basketball schools and adding new media and recruiting markets.

If college football does change into a 4-16 team superconfernce system, and all indications are that it is, the large state institutions in the ACC will not allow them to be pushed aside and not included in the new system.  By expanding with the schools they invited, they insured that any drastic change will include the ACC.  It was a brilliant move to make sure that they not only stay relevant, but they got their choice of the Big East schools.

What is holding this up is Notre Dame and the Big 12 trying to hold on to its own status as a premiere conference.  Everyone talks about how the Big 12 makes to much sense geographically to simply fold.  I don't agree.  When Nebraska, Colorado and now A&M left it crippled the Big 12 and there are not enough big time programs in the region to bring them back to 12 schools much less the 16 it will need to be a super conference.  With Texas' TV deal screwing everything up, no one is leaving the SEC and Big 10 to join the Big 12.

Unless the Big 12 decides that geography is no longer a factor and invites schools like Louisville, Cincinatti, and West Virginia, which may happen but I think they are holding out for invites from either the Big 10, ACC or SEC to stay regional.  Or out west with BYU, Boise St and Colorado St.  Even with TCU (which is a small private school and will probably not maintain this level of football status) the Big 12 is doomed.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:19 am

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk

ND is powerful, yes.  ND is the epitome of college football, yes.  But all of this grovelling to 'kiss the ring' of ND makes even an ND fan uncomfortable.  I'd love to see us stay independent but if we do decide to join a conference I'd prefer we do it in a dignified way and not have the SEC/B12/B10 etc... come crawling on hands and knees, especially when our performance on the field has not been up to appropriate ND standards as of late.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:08 am

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk

ND is no closer to being in a football conference than before, in fact, if the Big East becomes a non-football conference, nothing will change for ND as this is the case already.  What a dumb article.  Just another media midget trying to stir the pot.

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: October 7, 2011 9:57 am

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk

I think before you start questioning whether or not someone is a Notre Dame graduate and post it on a public web page you should learn to use spell check and check your grammar.  You know like the use of question marks when you ask a question.  Anyways, I think it is unfair to bash Notre Dame just because they are not winning the National Championship every year.  Only one school wins it each year and there are several schools out there that have never won it at all.  Notre Dame hasn't won a champion ship since 1988 and ND haters love to remind every ND fan they can of it.  Let's take a quick glance at this history.

Auburn- Until last year - 1957  (all the years before that just don't count I guess)
Oklahoma- 2000 - 11 years
Florida State- 1999 - 12 years
Michigan- 1997- 14 years
Penn State- 1986- 25 years
Texas- 2005- before that 1970? (2 in 41 years)
Alabama- 2009- before that 1992. (Definitely breaking some records there)

Not going to list every team or mention anything about sanctions, fines, suspensions, or awards taken away for buying players and violating rules.  I think i'm fine with Notre Dame's history whether they win or lose because I appreciate the game and what they bring to it.  They will win more and these other schools will still be playing catch up just as they are now. 


Since: Oct 15, 2009
Posted on: October 7, 2011 9:53 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Aug 16, 2011
Posted on: October 7, 2011 9:46 am

Notre Dame's football independence NOT at risk

This article makes no sense to me.  Yes, the Big East is about to implode as far as football is concerned, but Notre Dame doesn't compete in the Big East in football.  So let's say that all the Big East football programs leave for other conferences, what's left?  Seven other schools that actually make a logical fit for ND for their olympic sports.  DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. Johns, Seton Hall, and Villanova all have great basketball programs and great academics.  This is a perfect, natural fit for a school like Notre Dame who also has a football program but wants to remain independent in football.  So don't hold your breath waiting for ND to come knocking on any conference's door.

Since: Oct 28, 2010
Posted on: October 7, 2011 9:38 am

ND does have a decision to make

While the reamaining non-football schools in the BE would be a good basketball conference.  It woudl be a death blow to Notre dame's olympic sports - the Seton Halls', Georgetown's, Providence's simply are not good in all other sports and it woudl not give Notre dame the platform for these sports that it wants/needs. heck ND just signed a contract to televise its Hockey team independently.  McMurphy is right, if the Big East folds to bball only schools, ND will need to find a new place for its olympic sports (Swarbrick has even conceded this). Their first choice woudl be to put their non-football in another conference - rumors today are the Big 12 might be amenable to this, but if they have to go somehwere for all sports it will be the ACC and not the Big 10.  (and definetely not the Pac 12  or SEC). Reason being the new ACC stretching from Flrida to say Uconn as the 16th to join ND would encompass an east Coast footprint where most of their alumni are based.

Since: Nov 26, 2006
Posted on: October 7, 2011 9:34 am

Notre Dame's football independence now at risk

No school in the current SEC is ever going to leave. The only thing that will happen is the addition of a 14th whoever that may be. The SEC has gotten it right with a fair division of revenue and when 14 teams are finalized it will be the total conference revenue divided into 15 equal shares (1 goes back to the conference office). And I would love for the Big 12 to keep Mizzou, their penchance to jump the gun on reports and to declare the SEC has its 3rd choice publicly (behind B12 and B10) is not sitting well with the conference presidents. That and we don't need a third set of Tigers in the conference.

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