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Notre Dame’s ‘clear priority is maintaining football independence’

In the aftermath of what’s become Texas A&M’s apparently imminent departure from the Big 12 for the SEC, one of the rumors that consistently rose to the surface was Notre Dame being one of the schools under consideration to fill void created by the Aggies’ decision to bolt. In fact, late last night Chip Brown, the writer at the forefront of expansion coverage in 2010, wrote that "[a] scenario in which the Big 12 would add three schools to get back to being a 12-team league would involve Notre Dame.”

Ever since Expansionapalooza 2010 had the Irish at various points headed to the Big Ten, we’ve been told by a source with knowledge of the school’s thinking that, barring some type of conference apocalypse -- i.e. the much-discussed four 16-team “super conferences” -- Notre Dame would cling to their football independence come purgatory or high water.

While far from saying “hell no, we won’t go!” to the Big 12, ND’s athletic director made it clear Monday which tack his school would prefer to take for the near future and, if possible, beyond.

“Our priority — and our clear priority — is maintaining our football independence and continuing to build our relationship with the Big East with our other sports,” Jack Swarbrick told Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman.

As Swarbrick himself intimated -- “None of us have any idea what’s going on a year from now or five years from now” -- the college football landscape could shift dramatically in a relatively short period of time, perhaps forcing the Irish’s hand on football independence. But, that’s the point. It will take a near-historic set of dominoes falling for the South Bend school to go all-in conference-wise; no offense to the fine folks in College Station, A&M moving to the SEC is not the shift to get the Irish to bend on independence.

Or, as our source told us Monday afternoon, "[Notre Dame] turned down the stability and the financials that come with the Big Ten; why would [Notre Dame] turn around a year later and willingly get involved in that environment?”

That said, nothing would surprise us much anymore in the money-drenched world of college football, up to and including Notre Dame shedding their football independence... at some point down the road. Just not any conference road currently under construction and/or repairs.