Trying to distract from the next steps in the summer version of College Football Bingo has become a full-time obsession across the country since news broke last week that USC and UCLA were committing the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2025.
Apparently, the Big Ten has told several media outlets that the conference has finished expanding for the time being. But who actually believes that?
There are theories to support every scenario you can think of, from the entire remaining Pac-12 merging with the Big 12, to the Big Ten gobbling up the rest of the Pac-12 to create a “West” division of the traditional Midwest conference, to much smaller movements like the Big Ten that Stanford invited to join, largely as a temptation to lure Notre Dame, as that would mean two traditional opponents of the Irish would be in the same conference. to sit.
As Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports wrote on Sundaynothing happens “until Notre Dame decides its future.”
Next Notre Dame? No so fast
If the Big Ten is still looking to expand, Notre Dame would be a likely target. The conference has long been coveted to bring in college football’s unique national brand name, but Notre Dame has steadfastly stuck to its independent roots, cemented since it began a relationship with NBC in 1991 to exclusively show Irish home games.
Notre Dame has conference memberships outside of football. The Irish are ACC members for most Olympic sports and are part of the Big Ten hockey league. An important reason for the latter is the ease of travel within the conference.
The Big Ten has walked in Notre Dame many times over the years and came close several times. Interestingly, when USC and UCLA join the conference in 2025, that will also be when Notre Dame’s current contract ($15 million per year) with NBC expires.
However, like Mike Berardino Notes in the South Bend Tribunethere would be a huge catch if Notre Dame jumped all the way to the Big Ten.
He wrote that the ESPN contract with the ACC, which runs until 2036, includes a provision that if Notre Dame participated in a football conference before that date, it would be contractually obligated to join the ACC. The exit fee to get out of that deal would likely offset the windfall from joining the Big Ten. On the other hand, Dodd surmised, the other Big Ten schools might be able to help share the financial blow.
Apparently none of that cools the Big Ten’s interest in the Irish. Gene Smith, the Ohio State athletic director who had the same job in the state of Arizona and played on two Notre Dame football teams in the 1970s, was not shy about expressing his feelings.
“I love my alma mater,” Smith told reporters at a Friday press conference in Columbus, Ohio, “and I always thought they should be at a conference. I don’t know what the next step would be (for the Notre Dame), but I hope they consider that opportunity and I hope it’s the Big Ten.”
Schools in Arizona heading for the Big 12?
The most obvious step for Arizona and the state of Arizona, if they choose to leave the Pac-12, is to the Big 12. There is a built-in familiarity with some of that conference’s schools, such as BYU (which joins next year) and Texas Tech; there is powerful basketball in the Big 12, including Kansas and Baylor, which plays in the strength of UA; and the schools in Arizona are used to recruiting in the Big 12 country, especially Texas.
Responding to this possible scenario is the apparent sudden interest of the Big 12 to go on the offensive, writes Brett McMurphy of the Action Network† According to his sources, “The Big 12 has never been aggressive (in the rescheduling of conferences), but they should contact those four Pac-12 schools and tell them ‘come on board, because there’s nothing left’ in the Pac -12. Another source added: “We are not sitting back this time. That has killed us in the past. We are looking to strengthen our conference.”
Over all of this looms the SEC, which started the current reshuffle carousel when it lured Texas and Oklahoma out of the Big 12. There is speculation that the SEC will board alongside some of the ACC’s jewels, such as Clemson. and the state of Florida.
Matt Leinart understands USC’s move
Former Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, who won the Heisman Trophy for USC in 2004, says he understands why his school is making the leap from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten.
“It’s still like I’m trying to process that in a few years they’ll be part of the Big Ten … I was shocked by the initial announcement, but can’t say I’m surprised it happened,” he said. him on friday The Herd with Colin Cowherd† “I think if you look at the current landscape of college football and where it’s going… Oklahoma and Texas were really those first dominoes last year to say we’re going to the SEC for obvious reasons, while USC is still becoming a huge national brand despite the lack of competitiveness on the pitch, it was just a no-brainer.”
Leinart went on to say that he thinks the move “will greatly benefit them and UCLA.”
Mark Faller is sports editor for the Republic of Arizona and azcentral.com. Reach him on [email protected]and follow him on Twitter @falleraz†
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: From the state of Arizona to Notre Dame, speculation about the next steps rampant