Posted on: March 9, 2010 5:54 pm

The Gorilla Speaks-ND Starting to Look Interested

Well that didn't take long.  Sunday I wrote that despite the recent rumblings about Rutgers being the front runner in the Big Ten sweepstakes, no one should forget Notre Dame who could decide to make a late entry at any time.  Well today Jack Swarbrick definitely left that possibility open.

"Our preference is clear," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Tuesday. "I believe we're at a point right now where changes could be relatively small or they could be seismic."Swarbrick said it will be up to him and university president Rev. John Jenkins to "evaluate the landscape" if realignment happens."You can each come up with a scenario that would force our hand," he told a small group of reporters at a Manhattan restaurant.

Nothing really new here.  It's just getting a lot more attention this time.

So what would this doomsday scenario be?  Well emergence of the superconference for one.  If the Big Ten, Pac Ten, and SEC all go to fourteen or more,  I think ND jumps.  Even if just the Big Ten looks like it's going to fourteen Notre Dame could jump in, just because this could decimate the Big East where Notre Dame's non-football teams reside.  So basically Swarbrick has just given the Big Ten the recipe on how to make Notre Dame jump.  Create a big enough landslide so that the tectonic plates of college football start moving.  The B10 goes to 14, Pac Ten goes to 14, SEC goes to 14, hell who's going to be left to play Notre Dame?  This nuclear option I think also spells the death of the Big East and Big Twelve as we know it.  That to me stinks.  Many storied rivalries will go down the tubes on this realignmnent.  Why?  Because $20 million per team per year is not enough for the Big Ten.  Oh well, rant over.

There may be some hope and it involves a huge game of chicken.  My bet is the Big Ten's preference is still to go to just twelve by adding Notre Dame.  So, if Delany can convince Notre Dame that the Big Ten is willing to push the button on a massive three team raid, probably on the Big East,  Swarbrick cries uncle.  So Notre Dame goes to the Big Ten, and the Big East and/or Big Twelve survive for the time being.  The Pac Ten keeps pace and adds one as well.  If it's Colorado, does Arkansas jump back to its old Texas buddies in the Big 12 and the SEC poach one from somewhere else?  Who knows?  But this isn't the big seismic shift at least.

Even if this is the present end game, one gets the feeling the Big One is still coming.  If twenty million is not enough for the Big Ten teams, the SEC won't stand for the status quo either.  The Big East and Big 12 will continue to be in the crosshairs of the other BCS conferences.  Eliminating the Big 12 and Big East from the BCS bowl picture gives the other conferences a second team to cash in on the BCS riches every year.  So even if Notre Dame finally climbs into bed with the Big Ten, that won't be the end of the story.

So when will we know?  My money's on the end of June.  When the Big East expanded last time, the original members got a "get out of jail free card" that said they could leave any time before June, 2010 with no penalty.  After that I believe it's a 5 million goodbye letter.  What a coincidence!  Isn't that what's been bandied about being the "entry fee" to the Big Ten that Barry Alvarez has been alluding to?  Should be a lot of shaking and baking before June this year.

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