College Football Realignment: Big East and Notre Dame

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Yesterday morning Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick was quoted in the Washington Post offering hopes and expectation that the Big East finds its way through the conference realignment chaos “and stays a vibrant and successful partner for us.”

Not surprisingly, Notre Dame apparently remains fully committed to continue Big East participation in its normal, limited, scope. Swarbrick continued the platitudes indicating Notre Dame would “just continue to support them and be involved in their planning and hope they wind up in a great place.”

He concluded the attaboys with, “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.”

What does Notre Dame need to do?

As a long-time Big East fan who has constantly cut Notre Dame slack for its unwillingness to cross over into full conference participation (a.k.a. football), the truce is officially over.

Attention Notre Dame! The Big East ship is sinking – fast!

With Missouri’s declaration earlier this week that it plans to look for a home outside the Big 12, and the intervening action by that conference to make a play for TCU – with sights set on Louisville potentially – when to the alarm bells and lights reach South Bend?

The Big East is falling apart before your smiling Irish eyes.

It’s time for Notre Dame to start reading the handwriting on the wall. Has any other conference publicly expressed a willingness to accept Notre Dame’s basketball and other athletic teams – sans football – according to the terms in which the Big East did? If not, where will ND’s very successful men’s and women’s hoops teams play in 2012 and beyond?

The time has come for Notre Dame finally to do something for the Big East : Take it over!

The motivation of the day is selfishness, a la Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Do what serves the interests of your institution and let all others be damned. Notre Dame, ultimately, is going to need a conference. So why not appropriate the Big East now – and cheap?

Let the Irish keep the conference football membership small so the football team can play an extensive non-conference schedule (and win the championship handily). Let it book games against Rutgers in the Meadowlands or Yankee Stadium and in Foxboro against UConn (wouldn't Boston College love that) to accommodate its enormius fan base. The Irish could explore games at Raymond James stadium again USF for the benefit of all its alums in the South.

Notre Dame can keep its NBC contract. It can change the Big East name to the Golden Dome Conference. It can name Fr. Ted Hesburgh as honorary commissioner!

These are facetious examples of course (it doesn't have to be a hostile takeover) but there’s truth in the sentiment.

How else can the Big East expect to survive at this point, least of all, and gain stability? If Notre Dame football joined the Big East, other schools would line up to join. Notre Dame could reasonably expect have veto power over such additions, as well as scheduling and other decisions.

There’d be little to worry about in terms of earning a BCS berth either.

It's a win-win! The Big East survives, and Notre Dame has a plum situation for its athletics.

Reread the Swarbrick quotes above. The time has come for Notre Dame to stop referring to the Big East as “they.” The conference has served the schools interests well, and several other institutions have made concessions along the way. Notre Dame needs to become fully a part of “us.” And we need to act now!