Notre Dame is everyone’s favorite partner to court when it comes to major conference realignment talks. The reason is the school holds a national brand and incredible tradition in the most important (read: money-making) sport of all: football. Despite the lack of success over the last decade or more, the Notre Dame brand is alive and well, and there’s not a conference in the country that wouldn’t want to add the Fighting Irish.
That said, the Big 12 has been the conference most connected over time to Notre Dame with the Big Ten also in play. Year after year, however, Notre Dame maintains its independence and doesn’t seem remotely interested in partnering up with its college football program. In fact, Jack Swarbrick, the school’s athletic director even went so far recently as to bolster his confidence publicly in the Big East.
“I have great confidence in it," said Swarbrick. "I think the atmosphere reflected here, the focus on the future leadership of the conference are all steps towards that, the work that was done to replace the departing members. So that’s all good stuff. You know I don’t think there’s any reason to not be optimistic about their future.”
It’s an interesting statement about the school’s conference for all other sports, and it’s one that Swarbrick has to make at this point. But it’s clear the Big East is hardly “big” compared to other conferences, and the game of musical chairs about to be played could further distance conferences between each other in terms of money, sway and competition.
As much tradition as Notre Dame has, it also has to think seriously about the future. There’s more money than ever, and the tide is shifting dramatically these next few years (as it has in the last few).