Thanks to the Pac-12's decision to not expand, the Irish were a big winner.
Despite all of the rumors and uncertainty involving college football and realignment, Notre Dame has continued to maintain independence is priority No. 1. Although super conferences appeared to be on the horizon earlier this week, the Pac-12 decided not to expand and for now, the Big 12 will survive.
Although Notre Dame could be forced to join a conference in the future, the Irish were a big winner in the latest round of college football realignment. Notre Dame maintained its independence without much of a concern, thanks to what transpired across the conferences earlier this week.
The Big Ten, ACC, Big East and Big 12 have all expressed interest in adding the Irish for football, but those plans will have to wait until the next round of realignment.
Why does Notre Dame want to remain Independent?
National television audience: Although the Irish could make more television money on the Big Ten Network, no team has an advantage with a national audience like Notre Dame. A good chunk of games are on NBC, which gives the Irish an opportunity to be seen by millions of people every Saturday. Great for recruiting.
National Recruiting: Most teams and conferences base a lot of their recruiting in the region they are in. However, since Notre Dame plays a national schedule and is not affiliated with any conference, the Irish have a recruiting base that expands anywhere across the United States.
Scheduling: Playing in the Big Ten could actually be easier on Notre Dame’s schedule. However, the Irish prefer to have a national slate every year, which definitely helps visibility in recruiting. If Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, it could probably continue to schedule USC or Stanford, but some of the flexibility would be gone.
The landscape in college football is due to change in the future. However, the Irish are in a good position to choose their path.
Other sports outside of football will continue to compete in the Big East, barring any collapse of the conference. At least for the next couple of years, Notre Dame is set as an independent in football. And that’s exactly what it wants. While it may not be the most popular decision among college football fans, the Irish continue to maintain their belief independence is the best course of action for Notre Dame.
There’s little doubt the Irish cherish their independence and as each rumor about conference realignment pops up, things start to get a little uneasy in South Bend.
There will come a time where Notre Dame has to consider joining the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC or Big East. But not in 2011.
The Pac-12’s decision not to expand made the Irish a big winner on Tuesday night and barring a drastic change in the college football landscape, Notre Dame plans on remaining independent.