Do you remember the simpler times when Big Ten expansion was a debate between Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, and Missouri? When the end results of conference shuffling were not enormous 16-team superconferences with the breadth and stability of the Soviet Union in 1991? Yeah, neither do I.
A week or so ago, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick inaugurated the era of crazy speculation by saying there were "scenarios" in which the Irish would not be able to maintain their independence. None of these scenarios seemed remotely plausible, so college football media folk facing the long dark of the offseason naturally went to the implausible ones wherein the Big Ten annihilates the Big East with lasers and picks off an orphaned Notre Dame in the process. It's April. It's that or talking about spring football reports of dubious validity.
But just when we've all put together our ridiculous 16-team Big WAC or even more ridiculous 15-team promotion/relegation structure, Swarbrick has to go and pull the rug out from under us:
"The only things that could make it [conference affiliation] happen are the sorts of radical change in the industry that would cause upheaval and impact a lot more (schools) than Notre Dame. You wind up with only three conferences. You wind up with two tiers of conferences. Now, all of a sudden, it's not three divisions in college; it's four. It's the big change.
"I don't see that happening."
So if the Big Ten expands and California falls into the sea and the Big 12 picks off the remnants and large portions of the South becomes uninhabitable due to global warming, causing a second civil war that sees a tattered remnant of the SEC emerge victorious over forces from the ACC and scattered Big East rebels, then... then Notre Dame might consider dumping its independence.
Swarbrick would like you to send a pigeon to him when you're running around a Washington, DC that looks like Fallout 3. Until then, please keep your secular paws to yourselves, thanks. You may now resume wonderi ng if Rutgers can really bring the New York media market to heel.
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.