Randy Edsall Wants The Big East To Get Machiavellian With Notre Dame

↵A few weeks ago, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick kicked off a round of Internet speculation about the Irish giving up their independence by suggesting that if a meteor hit college football, Notre Dame might find itself having to scrabble for survival. After a wave of alumni protests, he backed out of that right quick. It would take two meteors and perhaps a deadly virus for Notre Dame to even think about giving up November games against service academies. Right, then. ↵

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↵Even so, the possibility of a Big Ten-affiliated Notre Dame lingers in the corner, squat and vaguely unpleasant. Step one is getting it out of the corner. UConn head coach Randy Edsall and the rest of the Big East's football coaches would like to give it a kick: ↵

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↵⇥Q: Should a football ultimatum be given to Notre Dame soon? ↵⇥

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↵⇥A: I think that’s something the powers that be are discussing in terms of the strategies that they’re looking at to be proactive rather than reactive. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Note: In a question-and-answer session with the audience, Edsall said the football coaches have been asking the conference to deliver an ultimatum to Notre Dame to come into the conference for football or get out entirely for the last two years. He added that, if as speculated, two teams leave for the Big Ten, “the Big East is all done.” ↵⇥

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↵This is a ruthless game theory move that the Internet has been busy speculating about: boot Notre Dame from the Big East and force it to choose between accepting Big Ten membership or sinking its nonrevenue sports into minor conferences. The equation changes when you're looking at Atlantic-10 membership for the basketball program and who knows what for everything else. ↵

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↵Does it change it enough? Survey says probably not. Football is king at Notre Dame and as long as they have a landing spot somewhere in years when they don't make the BCS, the baseball team can pound sand. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, it's a risk for the Big East. No one is going to miss a geographical outlier that doesn't bring an elite program to any sport the league sponsors—Notre Dame's burgeoning powerhouse of a hockey team plays in the CCHA because college hockey conferences have no relationship to basketball and football ones—but having the Notre Dame option has increased the viability of the Big East's bowl bids considerably. Booting ND is going to lower the Big East's already miserable bowl profile even further.  And as ESPN's Brian Bennett notes, the Irish have been "kindly not winning enough games to ever steal a Big East postseason slot." (Burn.) ↵

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↵In addition, the conference recently struck a deal with the Irish that sees them play three Big East teams a year, providing a high-profile (and eminently winnable) nonconference springboard for Pitt, UConn, and others. Those games may stay on the schedule since ND is in need of decent opponents when conference play begins in earnest and the Big East is in need of reminders they exist; they may not if one side gets huffy. ↵

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↵Those risks pale in comparison to not existing, and there's no downside. If an orphaned Notre Dame turns down the Big Ten again, the Big East will get raided and cease to exist as a BCS conference. At that point it doesn't matter that you hurt your bowl bids, because there won't be any. Logic suggests that that ultimatum is on its way. ↵

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

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