Living in the South Bend area makes this a very touchy subject to address, but anyone who knows your Commander will substantiate that he does not shy away from controversial issues. Currently Notre Dame spokesmen have repeatedly supported their long historical status of conference independence for their football team, and I suggest that is an admiral position that has worked well for their agenda thus far.
At present, Notre Dame is a member of the Big East for all sports EXCEPT football. Looking down the road, it is my opinion that it would be beneficial for the University of Notre Dame to join the Big Ten Conference for ALL sports. The South Bend Tribune’s recent poll indicates that 42% support affiliation with the Big Ten, and 59% endorse independence. There are strong points for both sides of this discussion, but in the long haul financial considerations will rule the day.
College sports has become an unbelievably lucrative business proposition, and despite all the flowery emotional words supporting Notre Dame’s independent football status, the final decision ultimately will come back to how their bottom line is impacted. Increasing costs of travel, and staggering revenue potentials from television contracts will tip the decision scales. When the Big Ten erodes the Big East Conference, and it will, then Notre Dame will have to face the new realities.
Notre Dame can still schedule competition with Southern California, Navy, and Miami, but the competition would be significantly stronger were they to be confronting a full Big Ten schedule year after year. There is still room to schedule games in major cities where strong numbers of alumni reside. Does anyone suspect that Notre Dame does not want the competition of Big Ten basketball, and other sports?
In the long run the world will continue to spin on its axis, but Notre Dame may someday come on bended knee seeking a date to the dance, but the dance card will be full. The perils of independence are numerous, and should not be ignored by emotional impertinence. My dear departed Irish Mother used to say, “Self pride stinks.”
I suggest that Notre Dame should take the emotion and bravado out of the discussion, and get realistic for their own selfish financial interests. In the long run Notre Dame needs the Big Ten far more than the Big Ten requires Notre Dame, and that is an unemotional fact.