Ah, what is expansiopocolypse without the idea of Notre Dame making a move?
Last week, my favorite Big 12-based “throw-shit-against-the-wall” expansiopocolypse outlet, Chip Brown of Rivals.com’s Orangebloods had his latest. It was the big card: Notre Dame.
Two sources in the Big 12 said Wednesday the possibility of Notre Dame moving its Olympic sports out of the Big East and into the Big 12 is becoming more and more likely.
Speculation is growing among those sources that an announcement could come from South Bend before the end of the summer.
As part of such a move, Notre Dame, which has a contract with NBC to televise its home football games through the 2015 season, would agree to play up to six football games against Big 12 competition (but most likely three or so to start with), sources tell Orangebloods.com.
Notre Dame would maintain its independence in football … for now.
As far as speculative fiction goes, it was something of a doozy. Reading the piece as a whole you can see it a couple ways.
Scenario 1: This is the propoganda war. ND and the Big 12 have been primarily concerned with the whole college playoff situation. Hard to imagine that ND and
Texas the Big 12 have been in serious discussions on moving the ND non-football sports. Especially considering for ND the logistics also mean finding a home for several of its other sports not in the Big 12 like Lacrosse and men’s soccer. But a story like this is about testing the waters. Finding out what fans think. See if it can generate pressure or even better, real discussion. Especially by the ND fanbase.
Clue for this scenario:
Notre Dame’s explanation to the Big East would be that the Big East is no longer the conference the Irish joined as a non-football member back in 1995, the sources said. Since the Irish joined, the Big East has seen Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College leave with Syracuse and Pittsburgh planning to join the ACC in two years.
Incoming Big East members include Central Florida, San Diego State, SMU, Houston and Navy.
One of ND’s biggest attractions to the Big 12 is the ability to have its own Tier 3 television network, along the lines of Texas’ Longhorn Network. Tier 3 inventory is whatever is left after the TV partners with Tier 1 (ABC/ESPN in the Big 12) and Tier 2 (Fox in the Big 12) rights select the football and basketball games they want to air.
Roughly translated: The Big East is just not good enough for you, ND. Sure it looked nice once, but not anymore. The Big 12, may not be that great, but we can make it rain with those Tier 3 rights and the Notre Dame network.*
*Not to be confused with the present ND network known to most as NBC.
Scenario 2: A veiled message to FSU, Clemson, and/or GT that they better get moving on making a decision on the Big 12, or the Big 12 might actually go in a different direction. A reminder that they aren’t Notre Dame. Not a program for whom the conference will wait, and it they take too long, could actually see opposition.
Sources in the Big 12 told Orangebloods.com during the league meetings that Notre Dame as a non-football member is the only expansion target that would receive universal approval from the league.
While sources say Texas and Oklahoma favor the Big 12 as a 10-team league for now, there are some in the Big 12 who think a move by Notre Dame – even just its Olympic sports – into the Big 12, could cause a frenzy of interest from football powers in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Orangebloods.com reported last month that Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia Tech all had efforts made on their behalf to gauge the interest of the Big 12 in expanding. The Big 12 indicated at its conference meetings in Kansas City in late May that it was happy at 10.
And while that was the sentiment then, a potential move by Notre Dame to affiliate with the Big 12, could cause more discussion and possibly a rethinking of the league’s current position about bringing in new members.
Roughly translated: Hey, Florida State, don’t get cold feet. All that, “we’re happy at 10″ stuff is just for the rubes. We could be bringing the real sexy to the Big 12. Imagine games with Oklahoma, Texas and Notre Dame every year. You would be a real player on the scene. This could really happen. But only if you act now.
Naturally, denials have been issued.
“I saw that and I thought (Bob) Bowlsby and I should hold hands up there,” Swarbrick joked, alluding to the incoming Big 12 commissioner. “I have no idea what prompted that. It is not based on any discussion, any meeting we have done.”
It’s treacherous to deal in absolutes in the ever-shifting college football landscape, especially given the ragged state of the Big East. One source said such an arrangement with the Big 12 indeed may have to be an option for Notre Dame — eventually, but not imminently.
“I’ve said all along that there were three important factors for us,” Swarbrick said. “One was the resolution of postseason football, which we are closer to. One is a resolution of our media relationship, which we are in the homestretch of.
“The third is related to the stability of the Big East, which we get more information on every day. In that sense, pieces of that are starting to fall into place, and that will put us in a time and place where we probably take a look at it and decide what we’re doing.”
Two of the three are going to be solidified soon it appears: the NBC contract and new playoff format. The Big East situation is not going to be clearer until the new media deal is hammered out. Something that isn’t happening until September.
Denials also from the outgoing interim Big 12 commissioner.
Big 12 outgoing commish/consultant Chuck Neinas says “no movement on Notre Dame joining B12; sometimes I wonder what people are smoking.”
— kbohls (@kbohls) June 22, 2012
So, there’s that.
As always, the problem with the Big 12 for Notre Dame, beyond academic issues. Is the geographic.
A source close to Notre Dame told Sporting News that the Irish likely would welcome an invitation from the ACC if the ND football team could remain independent, but to this point the ACC has preferred to remain an all-sports conference with no hybrid members.
Athletic department insiders recognize the school is most strongly connected to the East and wants to maintain that affiliation, one reason the Big 12 would hold marginal appeal for its programs.
Obviously they would jump at parking in the ACC without football, but the ACC is wisely avoiding that. You can imagine, that the ACC has received an earful from all the ex-(and soon to be ex-)Big East schools about what it was like to have the ND situation.
It’s not going to be Clemson. It’s not happening there.
As ut755 has said and my sources have said this all along, it’s about the dollars. You can like that ideology or not, but that’s the reality of the decision makers.
And if anybody thinks this is Bob Bowlsby’s decision, well it is… to the point that he wants Texas and OU as part of the conference.
That takes us to Notre Dame.
The hang up with Notre Dame will always be number of games played and who they are played against.
Notre Dame wants Texas or OU (or both) every year but only wants to rotate 1 or the other or both, plus another for 3 games.
So the Irish are said to want 3 games max and them only to be certain teams (or at least two of them). The Irish also want to be cleared to play non-league games in Texas at JerryWorld/Reliant/Alamodome.
The Big 12 at large wants Notre Dame to rotate teams evenly every year and play six games. That is not going to happen in two ways, a) not the six games and b) not rotating teams evenly because Notre Dame wouldn’t come with those demands.
In ND’s dealings with the Big East, they have previously agreed to play up to 3 games a year with Big East teams, but the individual team terms had to be negotiated. So Pitt-ND continued their series. They agreed to some games with Syracuse and UConn — but the “home” games for UConn were in Gillette Stadium… in Massachusetts. Not even the actual state. Their deal with Rutgers fell through because Rutgers would not agree to have “home” games at Giant Stadium.
That is relevant because if there is any germ of truth to ND playing in the Big 12 sandbox, there is no way ND is going to agree to trips to Ames, Lawrence, Manhattan, Stillwater, Lubbock or Waco. They might agree to a “road” game with one of those schools in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston or Kansas City. (Is there a stadium in Oklahoma City?) But that would be the limit. If ISU, Baylor, TT, K-State or Kansas refuse to give ground on the “home” game, then like Rutgers there will be no game. That, will further the grumbling from those schools about the special treatment for ND and bad faith. It’s a familiar tale.
If you scroll down the comments to this story, you can see some commenters already noting that WV boards are not happy with the idea of partial membership for ND. Probably for two reasons. WVU wouldn’t get a game with the Irish (they couldn’t get one when there were less teams to choose in the Big East). But more importantly, like all the Big East ex-pats in or heading to the ACC, they know the headache and annoyance of having ND with just a toe in the conference. Remember that whole issue of Notre Dame being part of the conferences bowl tie-ins? Can just imagine the calm response from Baylor, Texas Tech and K-State fans the first time ND leapfrogs them for one of the better bowls. Oh, and just reading Texas fans debate the arrogance of ND and ND only putting their interests first is beyond hilarious.
As for the ACC part of their exansiopocolypse. This piece makes it clear that the Big 12 does want FSU. They really don’t have any interest in Clemson. In fact they would be perfectly willing to hold at 11 as Oklahoma and Texas don’t seem too interested in a conference championship at this point. Then it would become a question of whether FSU would want to be that isolated. Their closest foe would be WVU.
This piece says its either Georgia Tech (Atlanta market) or Louisville who they would consider. Obviously Louisville would jump, but Georgia Tech would be a big question mark. The academics being so important at GT, you would assume that they would stay in the ACC. But those rules no longer seem to hold. Especially with their Georgia rivalry, being in SEC territory and the money.
Lots of questions. Lots of passages down various rabbit holes. It’s called speculative fiction for a reason.