You'll Pry Notre Dame's Independence Out Of Its Cold, Dead Hands

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was momentarily thrilled and ↵frightened by this ↵Clay Travis post yesterday on the financial imperatives that will ↵soon strike down Notre Dame's independence:  ↵
↵⇥In 2008, NBC ponied up an extension to the Fighting Irish television ↵⇥contract. USA Today reported that the current contract paid ↵⇥Notre Dame in the neighborhood of $9 million per year. ... Why's ↵⇥that ↵⇥number important? Because in 2008, every school in the Big Ten will ↵⇥clear north of $15 million from the conference, a number that will only ↵⇥increase in years to come. ↵⇥Every ↵⇥school in the SEC will bank, conservatively, $17 million. ↵
↵

↵Travis then adds in ND's Big East take to get to $11 million, takes ↵those numbers, adds two and two, and comes back to every Midwestern ↵college football fan's tantalizing, repulsive dream: Notre Dame joining ↵the Big Ten and dropping the cash-filled nuclear bomb that would be a ↵Big Ten Championship Game. ↵

↵

↵I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad to debunk this idea. Notre Dame ↵joining the Big Ten is the psychological equivalent of making out with ↵your super-hot cousin: intriguing but ultimately gross. But debunk I ↵must. ↵

↵

↵Travis' claim is based on the idea that Notre Dame's football ↵contract isn't going to increase in value much when they extend it. ↵Though we have no solid numbers, this is wrong for two main reasons: ↵

↵
    ↵⇥
  1. Notre Dame signed the extension through 2010 in ↵⇥January ↵⇥of 2004. Since then sports rights fees of all varieties have gone ↵⇥inexorably ↵⇥upwards at a pace ↵⇥far higher than that of inflation.
  2. ↵⇥
  3. Notre Dame's new contract contains a lot of daft neutral-site ↵⇥matchups against teams like Washington State in places like Texas so ND ↵⇥can get the television money from an eighth home game.
  4. ↵
↵

↵With ND banking another few million from their ancillary sports under ↵their Big East contract, it won't take an unreasonable increase in the ↵television contract -- which should go up 14% just because of the extra ↵game -- without taking into account the big jump any sports-rights contract ↵can expect after five years in stasis in this environment -- for Notre Dame ↵to approximately keep pace with the Joneses. ↵

↵

↵Will they start falling behind? Eh, it's possible. But it won't be ↵enough to shake them from their cherished independence. They've already ↵got enough money to pay premium dollars to a coach; they don't have an ↵interest in major renovations to the stadium or swankier practice ↵facilities and prefer to sell their campus and academics to recruits. ↵Falling slightly behind Florida or Ohio State in the number of gold ↵toilets available isn't going to be anything more than a minor hindrance ↵to them, if it even happens. ↵

↵

↵After all, what's the worst that could happen? They could be mediocre ↵for 15 years? That's already happened, and Notre Dame is no closer to ↵joining the Big Ten than they were in 1993. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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