If you ask former Fighting Irish players, the Notre Dame football program is just fine in its independence. The common response seems to be denial to any notion that the team might join the Big 12 (or any other conference for that matter) despite rumors to the contrary.
When asked about the chances of Notre Dame joining the Big 12, current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and ND alum Brady Quinn didn’t even think there was a remote possibility of the Fighting Irish making a move now or in the future.
“No chance,” said Quinn. “I mean, we play the toughest schedule in the country this year. Why would we change that, you know? And we played some Big 12 teams. So I think the tradition is to remain independent. I hope they always do. And that way, every team we play is a BCS team. Our strength of schedule is always there, always has been. And that’s the way we like it.”
The sentiment was repeated by other players as well.
“Notre Dame is a national team,” said fellow Notre Dame grad and Chiefs defensive back Kyle McCarthy. “We’re a national team. We recruit nationally. We don’t have a specific geographic area that we feel that we need to play in.”
The Big 12 is in the best position of any major football conference to make a move. The recent agreement for a New Year’s Day bowl game with the SEC links it with the most powerful conference in college athletics and it now boasts a highly competitive conference with stability in new commissioner Bob Bowlsby and national attention with great financial payouts due to TV deals recently negotiated.
Given how things are expected to continue to change over the next year, many schools are rumored to be interested in the Big 12 with some publicly posturing for it. From Cincinnati and Louisville to Florida State and Clemson, the number of potential candidates mentioned have been startling — whether it’s true or not. Given its independence, Notre Dame will always be mentioned in these sorts of conversations.
For now, however, it seems that there’s no truth to any rumor linking Notre Dame to the Big 12.