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Calls for conference affiliation don't quit

Jun 17, 2010, 12:51 PM EST

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.

  1. NDDC - Jun 17, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=5298238
    Keith, watch this whole segment. This is how ridiculous realignment is getting. Suggesting ND go to the Mountain West?????

  2. Big Re - Jun 17, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    The part that most bothers me is where people try to extrapolate on-field woes from the past 3 years over the enitre 22-year title drought. Hello! BCS games in 05-06 and 06-07? MSU OT meltdown and Bush Push away from being undefeated in 2005? Yeah, we’ve sucked something awful that past three seasons, but as recently as four years back we were one of the top teams in the country. Maybe the three blowout losses (UM, USC, LSU) takes some of the shine off the 2006 team, but the 2005 team was legit and hung with Ohio St. for the duration of the Fiesta Bowl (OSU scored 10 in the 4th, the last 7 coming in the waning moments of the game). So name brand aside, Notre Dame has certainly been competitively “relevant” very recently. It just irks me to no end that brainless ND-bashing pundits are so quick to gloss over these two BCS appearances in the last five years. How many teams have done that? 15 including Notre Dame, making for some pretty elite company with Alabama, Boise St., Cincy, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Penn St., Texas, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.

  3. sharkey - Jun 17, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    I find it extremely amusing how confused and bewildered people get when major decisions are made based on values and integrity rather than the mighty dollar. It’s not about the money, it’s about who they are and who ND wants to be.
    Swarbrick is the man for ND for such a time as this. Nobody else could have navigated through the upheavals of a coaching change, conference realighnment and take the pressure of staying independent, schedual Miami, Oklahoma with more major schools coming up, I’m sure. He has definitely had a busy first couple years and has done a fantastic job. Hopefully, Jack will be able to keep ND independent for a very long time.

  4. borromini - Jun 17, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Haugh is a tool…

  5. FreQaZoiD - Jun 17, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    If we ever had to join a conference… joining the new Big 12-2 is not a bad idea. Imagine going up against the likes of Texas and Oklahoma EVERY YEAR. Plus recruiting down south would be “easier” and I dislike the Big 10+? anyways.

  6. ugetwutuask4 - Jun 17, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    Big Re I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s the four letter station that knocks ND every chance and oportunity they get. It’s like something contagious spreads around the studio in Bristol when ND’s name comes up.
    As for joining a conference, I’d rather be indy and screw the Big Ten but if I had to pick and chose down the road I feel like there would be no better idea than to join the Big Twelve but I’d settle for the Big East if it were still an option. Screw the Big Ten even if it meant losing the UM and msu rivalries. I’ll never live down the moment when msu planted their crappy flag in the middle of ND Stadium.
    T-minus 78 days and counting baby!!!

  7. TLNDMA - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:09 AM

    A couple of points:
    1. Jack Swarbrick seems like the right man, at the right time.
    2. Notre Dame’s independence is a prime commodity, that should be given away only as a last resort.
    3. Big Re, Notre Dames irrevelence is frightening, isn’t it?

  8. shazamrock - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    Look at this years schedule.From Oct.16th thru Nov.20th we play Western Michigan, Navy at Giants stadium, Tulsa, Utah, and Army at Yankee stadium. Combined with our regulars from the Big Ten and PAC 10 it’s a pretty unique schedule. It only happends because we are a Independent. I shudder at the thought of having to play the same Teams year after year if we were to be confined to a confrence.
    It would be like being stuck in that Bill Murry movie “Groundhog day”.

  9. C. Liedl - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Keith- thought you would appreciate this earthquake of an article from back home regarding Dr. Lou’s thoughts on ND –> Big Ten.
    http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/96619114.html?elr=KArksi8cyaiUjc8LDyiUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr

  10. mrrandolph - Jun 20, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    I would like to see (if joining a conference is inevitable) ND joining the Big 12 to get in front of Texas recruits. Playing an away game against USC/UCLA to get in front of Southern California recruits and either Florida State/Miami to get in front of Florida athletes.

  11. Sgt. Moon - Jun 22, 2010 at 11:40 PM

    I have said it a million times. All ND has to do is WIN. They do not need to join a conference.
    STAY INDEPENDENT!

  12. mike OLeary - Jul 7, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    I do not understand why there is so many opinions about what is happening in conference realignment.Keep things the way they are for 5 years and then look back to see if ND made the right choice.Sometimes youhave to live with the decisions make regardless of the outcome of those decisions.A prime example is what happened 5 years ago when ND had to make a coaching change !!!

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