The Big East should brace themselves—another team is gearing up to leave, and that team is Notre Dame.
While currently in a large game of "he said, she said," it looks like something just might be up with the Fighting Irish. According to Orangebloods.com's Chip Brown, Notre Dame Olympic sports are headed to the Big 12. However, Notre Dame's athletic director Jack Swarbrick denies any discussion of the sort ever happened.
While I'm often hesitant to trust everything Brown reports, I cannot help but think he just might be onto something. These two "sources" he spoke with could be anybody, but I have a good idea where they may have gotten word.
After all, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Swarbick do have a trusted relationship. I imagine the two of them sitting around with glasses of John Daly's talking about the future of the Big 12 and Notre Dame. Unless their conversations are heavily guarded, I'm sure someone has overhead things they have said before. In this case, they must have been talking about Notre Dame to the Big 12.
Do you think Notre Dame will join the Big 12?
Now that I have made my assumptions, let me say what I think is really happening. Notre Dame has made it clear that postseason football needs to have a resolution before they make any kind of move.
They are also "happily" members of the Big East, with the exception of football. Most importantly though, they have an independent TV contract with NBC through the 2015 season. However, the clock is ticking down to 2015 so the Fighting Irish have to be considering their next step.
The Big 12 would be a good fit for Notre Dame in terms of TV contracts. With the Big 12, they would snag a Tier 3 television contract and create something similar to The Longhorn Network. That's an obvious selling point. Plus, the stability of the Big 12 is looking better and better with the addition of TCU and West Virginia. As for the Big East, Swarbick is concerned about their stability, but he is currently waiting that one out.
Regardless, I believe Notre Dame fans should get ready for a move. What will begin as a move of just the Olympic sports will eventually include football. As much as Notre Dame enjoys being independent, there isn't much time left in the bubble they currently live in. As the four-team playoff becomes more of a reality, being a member of a major conference could become crucial.
That major conference would be the Big 12.