Yeah I know, I know. The Chicago Tribune says Rutgers is the leader. Big Ten fans that think their conference should expand only for a storied program are unhappy. Pitt fans that feel their history and location count for everything are livid. Rutgers fans who would love to see Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State in Piscataway are optimistic.
Well just wait a minute. As much as I hate to throw cold water on fellow Rutgers fans, there's still a thousand pound gorilla in the room. Yes, he says he's independent. That may not continue though.
Now even Notre Dame fans will be angry. How dare I question the Irish' desire for continued football autonomy? Well think about this. ND's AD has repeatedly said ND wants to stay independent. People overlook another part of what he has said. That was that ND would continue to monitor the situation as to how it could affect Notre Dame.
Notre Dame is very happy now to stay independent in football and a Big East member in everything else. Why not, they're a member of the top basketball conference in the country. What if the second part of that is put in jeopardy by Big Ten expansion plans? Now Rutgers going to the Big Ten is not going to cause the downfall of the Big East. What happens if the Big Ten poaches Rutgers AND Syracuse? AND Pitt? Or throw UConn in for one of the above. Now take a look at Big East. Football? Not good. Basketball? Losing two of Syracuse, Pitt and UConn is a big hit. Does the Big East still have the same value to ND as a host for all of its other teams with three teams poached by the Big Ten? Next does it cause other football schools with good basketball programs like West Virginia and Louisville to look elsewhere, further dilluting the basketball league? So you may end up with a Big East sans Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt, UConn, West Virginia and Louisville. Big East basketball kind of loses some of its luster doesn't it? Something I'm sure Jack Swarbrick and his friends are keeping an eye on.
So let's suppose it becomes pretty certain that three BE schools are going to make the jump to the Big Ten. Then all of a sudden, a phone call goes out from South Bend. You know Mr. Delany we've had second thoughts. We've rather be a full member of the Big Ten than a football independent and a member of the rump of the Big East. Somehow I think Mr. Delany would reconsider his list of five, fifteen or whatever number it's at now.
Scenario #2. Notre Dame plays the White Knight. Once again, the tea leaves in South Bend indicate that three Big Easties are about to head west. So a phone call goes out from South Bend to Providence, RI. Notre Dame would like to help out its Big East brethren. If the three teams about to head west agree to stay, Notre Dame will join the Big East for football. After all, ND wants to help out its conference mates in this time of need. Oh and by the way, ND wants a deal that makes Texas' agreement with the Big 12 look foolish. Just some little things like keeping all of their TV money, in addition to getting a cut of BE money, requiring certain away games being played at large pro stadiums with ND getting a cut of the gate, and various other sweetheart deals that only someone truly concerned with helping their conference mates could come up with.
Yes the gorilla wants to stay independent now. But if his access to bananas is threatened, or if it looks like he can get more bananas by joining a conference? Bet on the bananas.