Four Corners: Will Notre Dame be forced to join a football conference soon?

March 11, 2010

Keep the autonomy
Chris Dufresne

Los Angeles Times

No doubt things have changed since 1999, the last time the Big Ten made a run at Notre Dame and Notre Dame said no thanks. The Big Ten, with its growing television network, is more powerful now and Notre Dame football is less powerful.

Since 1999, the football program has toiled in mediocrity as it fumbled through the last decade. It has bungled coaching hires and posted one lousy bowl win in Hawaii.

But does that mean Notre Dame should be forced into joining a conference? No way. Independence is still the thing that sets Notre Dame apart. And, with Brian Kelly set (in my opinion) to return the Irish to greatness, this might be the wrong time to become Purdue with a better fight song.

The financial bottom line for Notre Dame is simple: win more games and keep all the glory - and the money.

Wants outweigh needs
Brian Hamilton

Chicago Tribune

The breathless reporting of Notre Dame potentially, possibly, maybe sizing up the chance of joining a football conference minimizes one key fact: Notre Dame really, really doesn't want to.

Nor does it have to, resting comfortably on tradition and a sofa bed of cash from NBC. The more pertinent question is whether the Big Ten or Pac-10 can muster the "seismic" realignment athletic director Jack Swarbrick alluded to Tuesday, vaporizing other leagues in the process.

But the odds are long for, say, five Big East teams hopscotching to the Big Ten. Only mammoth change could budge Notre Dame, and maybe not even then. So why frantically worry that the Irish will celebrate their final independence day any time soon?

Landscape has changed
By Andrea Adelson

Orlando Sentinel

The business of college athletics has changed so much over the last 10 years, Notre Dame is going to have no choice but to join a conference. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick finally has realized as much. Just a few months after saying he would decline an invite to an expanded Big Ten, Swarbrick said Tuesday his school may be forced to lose its independence.

While Notre Dame enjoys the riches of its exclusive TV deal, imagine an expanded Big Ten with Notre Dame and the even bigger windfall that awaits. Surely a new blockbuster TV deal would be negotiated. Notre Dame also would be eligible to get a piece of the conference pie when it comes to BCS and bowl payouts.

With the Big Ten and Pac-10 considering expansion, college football is set for another sea change. Notre Dame is going to have to put on its life jacket and go along for the ride.

ND brand will prosper
Dom Amore

Hartford Courant

For nearly as long as there has been college football, there has been Notre Dame, then everyone else. This is not the case on the field anymore; it hasn't been for quite some time.

But the Notre Dame brand is still the 800-pound gorilla that sits anywhere it wants.

The Big Ten and several of its schoolsalso are strong brandsand are much closer to Notre Dame than 30 or 40 years ago. But they still are not strong enough to force Notre Dame to throw its Golden Dome into a conference ring.

Like the Yankees, Notre Dame is never more than one championship away from becoming an obsession again. If the Fighting Irish win again, the school will be able to chart its course successfully for the long-term. If not, ND as an independent still will find plenty of work.

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