Big Ten Expansion: A One Step Plan to Save the Big East

The biggest story in college sports is still the proposed Big Ten expansion.  No one knows when it will happen, if it will happen, and if it does happen, how many teams will be added.  No one can predict the domino effect of other conferences following  the lead of the Big Ten — if the Big Ten expands beyond 12 teams, they will likely be taking multiple Big East and perhaps Big 12 teams — how will those conference react, and what happens to the Big East then?

There are too many scenarios to consider, but most of them threaten the survival of the Big East.  But one scenario is obvious: the Big Ten would like to add Notre Dame at a minimum.  Add Notre Dame, and the Big Ten has twelve schools, and can play a lucrative conference championship game.  Add Notre Dame, and the feeding frenzy may stop there.

Notre Dame and the Big Ten are a perfect marriage geographically, educationally, traditionally, competitively, and financially.

Notre Dame and the Big East are not.

I have talked about this before, as part of a bigger plan to save the Big East.  But really, there is only one step required to save the Big East:

Get rid of Notre Dame — now.

Sure, the Big East can give them an ultimatum: play football or else, but besides window dressing, the effect will be the same: Notre Dame will leave the conference.

Notre Dame has been using the Big East for years.  All of the Fighting Irish sports teams play in the Big East, except one: football.  In Big East parlance, that makes them a “basketball only” school.  They underachieve at Men’s Basketball.  They’re very good in Women’s Basketball.  They’re very good in many of the non-revenue producing sports.

They can be replaced.

The fact of the matter is, Notre Dame needs the Big East more than the Big East needs Notre Dame.

Kick Notre Dame out.  Stop enabling them.  Make them find another league.  Notre Dame wants their football program to stay independent.  But the rest of their athletic programs will suffer if they don’t find another league.  Who will take them?  The Big Ten is the obvious fit.  But who will take them as a “basketball only” team?  The Big Ten will not take them unless football comes along.  Why would the Big 12 want them without football?  The only “basketball only” league, in fact, that would be a reasonable fit would be the A-10.  That would be a minor step down for Notre Dame.

Kick them out. My guess is that Notre Dame will wake up and realize that the Big Ten is the best fit, football and all.  Financially, it already looks like a step up. And my guess is it will be even more lucrative for all teams in the Big Ten after Notre Dame joins.

The other reason they give is that they want to continue their football rivalries. Okay –they want to keep their rivalry with USC? Let them play that game every year.  Navy?  I’m sure they can squeeze them in.  Do you think they can’t work that out with the Big Ten?

I also wonder: how much of this is just negotiating tactics?  Deny that they want to move to the Big Ten until they get a better deal.

Kick them out. Give them a way to save face and still do the right thing: join the Big Ten.  Right now, they’ve spent so many years talking about how they’ll never join a league that part of this may just be saving face.  But faced with going independent in all sports, they’ll wake up and see that joining the Big Ten is the best thing to do.

This is not a time for loyalty; it’s not a time to be nostalgic or politically correct.  This unfortunately is business, and this is a time for survival.  And if you’re like me; if you struggle with the idea of abandoning loyalty, consider this: it’s not as if Notre Dame has stepped in, or will step in, to help the Big East:

When the ACC came after Miami and Virginia Tech (or was it West Virginia at first?), the Big East would probably have survived intact if Notre Dame had agreed to play football.  I just did not see any of those schools, or Boston College, or Syracuse leaving if the money and quality of competition improved with the addition of Notre Dame. Okay, the second part of that sentence is debatable in hindsight.

Second, when they do play against the Big East, they don’t do those teams any favors.  The “home and neutral field” series against UConn is a slap in the face — all games are played either at Notre Dame or on neutral fields — none at Connecticut.  That would be presumptuous against any team, let alone a fellow Big East school (making it all the more satisfying, of course, when UConn defeated Notre Dame in South Bend).

No, I will not shed any tears when Notre Dame leaves the Big East — and one way or another, they will leave the Big East.

If the Big Ten comes calling with enough money, Notre Dame will voluntarily leave the Big East.

Kick Notre Dame out, now, for the good of the Big East.


2 Responses to “Big Ten Expansion: A One Step Plan to Save the Big East”

  1. andyandvickie Says:

    As a Syracuse alum, I think the Big East is living on borrowed time. The departure of BC, Miami and VT will be too much. I hope the ‘Cuse moves to either the Big Ten or the ACC.

    • yukonnj Says:

      Thanks for the comment — I’m also afraid that the Big East is on borrowed time — see some of my earlier posts. There are a lot of scenarios in which Syracuse and UConn end up in different leagues, which would be unfortunate. I was at UConn during the birth of the Big East Conference, and have grown to respect the Syracuse program and Jim Boeheim tremendously (even in the early years, when Syracuse usually pasted the Huskies). Syracuse will land in a decent conference if that happens. I’m more worried about UConn, because they don’t fit as well into the Big Ten, and I’m not sure the ACC will take them. I strongly prefer the Big Ten.

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