Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Calls for conference affiliation don’t quit

I’m working on some more original pieces that I’ll finish off this weekend and still plan on finishing off Spring Solutions before the official start of summer, but there were a few links thrown my way that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention.

First off is David Haugh’s column in the Chicago Tribune about the price of independence. Haugh, who covered Notre Dame while writing for the South Bend Tribune, takes his turn asserting that the Big Ten is the best place for the Irish. (Shocking, right?)

From Haugh:

The Big Ten offers Notre Dame’s athletic department security via an increase in annual TV revenue, a compelling, competitive schedule that makes more geographic sense and academic prestige that shouldn’t be dismissed.

From a football perspective joining the Big Ten would help the Irish forge an identity their program has lacked since the Holtz Era. Playing in a league would give Notre Dame’s coaches the advantage of preparing for teams they eventually will come to know, a familiarity they currently don’t enjoy going from Big Ten to Big East to ACC styles of play sometimes in the same month. It’s called stability.

The Irish still could play USC and Navy to sate traditionalists. Would it really miss Pittsburgh or the occasional Pac-10 or ACC foe?

The longer Notre Dame stubbornly clings to a nostalgic ideal such as its independent status, the more it stunts future growth by making momentum something other programs enjoy.

While I’d argue with just about every statement Haugh made in the above paragraphs, he seems to do it himself just a few lines later.

Some business rankings still list Notre Dame No. 1 overall in terms of value but, without a football national championship, what’s all that really worth? If money is the sole motivation of all moves the athletic department makes to ensure a rich future, then stay independent. But if anybody on the Notre Dame campus can stop seeing green long enough to envision the most prudent path for the football program, then the Big Ten it will be.

Either joining the Big Ten or staying independent is a better financial decision, it can’t be both.

As many have said, and I’ll echo again, the best way to be an independent in football and to be relevant nationally is to win big football games. After spending some time with the coaching staff last week, they all understand that clearly.


A column by Tom Keegan in the Lawrence Journal World & News made a splash on a few message boards, when it was suggested that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was going to make a financial push to help the Big 12 expand by adding Jones’ alma mater, Arkansas, and -- of course -- Notre Dame.

From Keegan:

Jones, according to a source familiar with his thinking, wants his alma mater to play in a league with former Southwest Conference rivals Texas and Texas A&M. A visionary, Jones sees the Big 12 expanding with Arkansas and Notre Dame. Such a conference alignment turns on TV sets across America and sends cash gushing out of Big 12 faucets everywhere...

It’s more difficult to read Notre Dame’s feelings because the school’s officials don’t get involved in doing business publicly. For all the hits Notre Dame takes as a so-called “hype machine,” the school deserves credit for conducting itself with class.

Conspiracy theorists wonder whether the Big Ten, long lusting after Notre Dame, will try to lure the Fighting Irish by recruiting a few Big East schools, blowing up that conference and leaving ND with nowhere else to turn. Ole Notre Dame would not reinforce such evil tactics and could find a more profitable home by joining hands with Texas and the other 10 institutions, including Arkansas, to form a Big 12 TV network that would blow away the hugely successful Big Ten Network.

I’ll go on the record and say that there’s about as much of a chance of Notre Dame joining the Big 12 as there is of me walking to Notre Dame’s opener against Purdue. (I live in Manhattan Beach, CA... 2,138 miles, or 29 days and 3 hours according to Google.)

Ideas like this one seem fun in the offseason, and while they’re completely illogical and don’t stand much of a chance of actually happening, they do remind people that Notre Dame -- whether in Chicago, New York, or Lawrence, Kansas -- still matters.