March 11, 2010

Thursday Question: Will Notre Dame finally crack?

Since the Big Ten announced it would look into expansion, plenty of programs have flown across the media radar as potential additions to the nation's oldest athletic conference. Pittsburgh... Missouri... Texas... Rutgers... each one at one point a "sure thing" to be the 12th member of the Big Ten. Notre Dame, the Big Ten's perpetual tease, wasn't really even considered. That's mostly due to the conference's previous overtures to the Fighting Irish, overtures that at one point came so close, Notre Dame was just one board-room meeting away from agreeing to join. Since that February day in 1999, Notre Dame has been the focal point of distrust from Big Ten loyalists. But that might all change, as news broke this week Notre Dame could change course from its staunch football independence.

This all leads to our Thursday Question: Will Notre Dame finally crack, and join a football conference?


I doubt you will see Notre Dame ask to be part of the Big Ten but they most definitely are thinking about it. Let’s be frank, this is all about money. The Big Ten’s television deal with the Big Ten Network has really set the conference ahead of the curve and the windfall contract has other conferences and teams licking their lips, including Notre Dame. Adding another team or a couple teams would just add to the overall pot and would benefit all parties involved. Notre Dame though, is in a bit of an uncertain situation, they still have a very good contract with NBC until 2015, but will that contract get renewed? It’s tough to say, NBC is owned and run by GE and if you look at GE’s stock price lately (and NBC’s ratings) you’ll soon discover that they are run by a bunch of one-armed sadistic monkeys. What they do next is anybody’s guess. So no, I don’t think Notre Dame is going anywhere just yet, but they are most definitely worried. Personally, if you ask me, do I want Notre Dame to join the Big Ten? Well I’ll let the winningest coach in college football history take that one:
So now, according to Paterno, they're out of luck. As he told reporters: "There's some pressure, I would suppose, to maybe go back to Notre Dame and ask again. Which I would not be happy with. I think they've had their chance."
In other words, f*ck off Notre Dame, take your arrogant attitude and your 1 bowl win in the last decade and join the Big East. See how that works out for ya.


Notre Dame is the hot chick in school that you say you hate because she is shallow, conceded, and has only treated you like crap forever; but if she ever asked you out, there's no way you'd turn her down. I would like to think Notre Dame will just come out and say that the Fighting Irish will be the Big Ten's 12th team, and the college football world will let out a collective "finally!" But what has Notre Dame ever done that would lead me, or anyone, to believe it will at long last swallow its pride? If it didn't happen in 1999, it's probably not going to happen now. Of course, Notre Dame stands to gain a hefty paycheck by joining the Big Ten, particularly since its NBC contract isn't quite what it used to be, and the Big Ten Network wasn't even fathomable ten years ago. Joining the Big Ten, if offered, should be a no-brainer for Notre Dame... should be. I'm not holding my breath.


To say I was surprised by the statements coming from Notre Dame would be an understatement. The fact that someone over there managed to pull their head out of their ass and come to the realization that it's becoming more and more likely they're about to be left out of the future is shocking. That being said, the Big Ten needs to make Notre Dame beg for it, don't make it easy and don't let them dictate terms. I get the feeling that conference expansion isn't about adding a 12th team, it's about adding 3 or 5 teams. If Notre Dame is serious, I would put far more credence into Texas talk in the future and would put money on the Big Ten aggressively courting the Longhorns, because that's the real big fish wild card.


I found this little quip courtesy of Frank The Tank's Slant:
When Notre Dame rejected an invitation from the Big Ten back in the 1990s, the Irish were making about twice as much TV money as every Big Ten school. As of today, though, the positions are reversed. I noted in the Big Ten Expansion Index post that Notre Dame is now #3 in TV money… in its own home state behind Purdue and Indiana.
Jack Swarbrick comes off to me as a more progressive AD who will want to make moves that create the most money for Notre Dame athletics, "Independence" be damned. Every Big Ten school is getting $22 million per year right now as part of their affiliation with the conference, thanks in large part to having their own exclusive TV network. You think Swarbrick isn't pondering the idea of storming into the Big Ten offices and begging to join the conference for more money?

Plus, it's no secret by now what a horribly-run network NBC is. Exhibits A, B, and C can be found in their botching of the Leno/Conan situation. This is also the same NBC that lost the rights to the NBA (and one of the best sports TV theme songs, ever), the NFL for several years, MLB, and may very well lose out on the Olympics after the 2012 Summer Games. Swarbrick has to realize he's stuck in a TV pact with a ship that has several giant cannon ball-sized holes in it. I realize Notre Dame's contract with NBC goes through 2015, but there has to be some sort of opt-out clause in there, right? Either way, look for Notre Dame to be the Big Ten's 12th member sometime before then.

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  1. in other words, Mr. Paterno never asks a second favor once he's refused the first, understood?

  2. We don't ask ya to join the family twice, capiche?

  3. Joe doesn't know what you're talking out... there was no favor... there is no family... now get off our construction site!

  4. now all we need is jack swarbick waking up, rolling over in bed only to discover lou holtz's dismembered lisping head next to him, and the metaphor will be complete.