Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Notre Dame to Big Ten makes more sense

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The tectonic plates beneath the college football landscape may soon be shifting, which could increase the likelihood of Notre Dame joining the Big Ten in the future.

Brian Kelly is aware that Big East Conference members Pittsburgh and Syracuse have submitted letters of application to the Atlantic Coach Conference, which could impact Notre Dame basketball and other sports. With other significant changes to major conferences expected, joining the Big Ten might make sense now than it did a decade ago, especially if Texas is involved.

Imagine a Big Ten "Western" division that includes Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern and an "Eastern" sub-conference featuring Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Indiana. Such a scenario would maintain many of the Big Ten's geographical rivalries as well as allowing Notre Dame to continue to play traditional foes such as USC and/or Navy.

"I know personally as the head coach, you're always listening to what's going on out there," the Notre Dame coach said. "How it affects our day-to-day operation is none. It doesn't affect what we do. Nothing is going to be decided during this season. 

"But we're listening to it. I know our athletic director, obviously this is a big time in college football, and he's actively involved in it. I hear about it, but I'm focused on my team."

Kelly said there are advantages to remaining independent as well as joining a conference.

"Football independence at Notre Dame, it's schedule and recruiting," Kelly said of the advantages. "Those are the two things. You can put together a schedule that gets you from the East Coast to the West Coast. Then recruiting, it allows you to have that large sampling. You're not marginalized geographically in your recruiting. On the other side, you're not playing for a conference championship. 

"There's pluses and minuses. I like the pluses that we have as an independent right now. Like anything else, I've said this a number of times, we'll keep our ear to the ground."

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on September 18, 2011 4:15 PM.

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