With Tuesday's news that the Big Ten will at least consider the possibility of expanding to a twelfth team, speculation has already begun on which school will be tabbed. The Crimson Quarry looks at a whole list of candidates, from Pitt all the way to Nebraska, while Brian Cook at mgoblog uses a chart examine who makes the most sense (it's Pitt and Missouri). But SB Nation's Black Shoe Diaries says that all this speculation and discussion starts and ends with one school: Notre Dame.
Notre Dame has been irrelevant in college football for nearly 20 years. They were a national program back in the 80's, but today there are no kids walking around California wearing Jimmy Clausen jerseys. There are no Joe Montanas or Theismans playing in the NFL and winning Super Bowls. Jerome Bettis was probably the last Notre Dame player to make any kind of impact in the NFL, and he retired a few years ago. Your fanbase is rapidly aging. The only people who are Notre Dame fans today are the old timers who can remember the 80's and the recent alumni who went there. At a small private school, that isn't much.
Sure, Notre Dame makes a lot of money, but how long can they keep that up? They just turned down a bowl invitation because their expenses probably wouldn't cover the costs. They can't count on BCS money every year, or even every other year. And now Comcast is buying NBC. As a guy who has worked for companies that have been bought and sold, I can tell you with each change of ownership comes a new way of doing things. How much longer do you think NBC is going to want to have the exclusive rights to broadcast an average team with a dwindling fan base get blown out by USC and lose to service academies? The only thing national about Notre Dame anymore is the national desire to see them choke and set new lows for Irish futility. NBC might as well offer Syracuse an exclusive contract if that's what they're into. The NBC cash cow will not last forever, but in the Big Ten Notre Dame would enjoy economic security without the pressure of winning ten games every year to avoid massive budget cuts. Heck, if I were Delany I would tell Notre Dame to keep their NBC contract as long as they can and keep all the money for yourself. And when the NBC money runs out we'll include you in the revenue from the Big Ten Network.
It would immediately mean rivalries between the Irish and Penn State and Ohio State. "It's now or never, Notre Dame. The Big Ten can no longer afford to wait, and you cannot sustain yourself on your current path."