The Big Ten will not even consider a team other than Notre Dame. Ever. Nor should it.
There is no profit in simply adding a 12th “warm body” just to create a championship game. Sure, we've all seen the list of teams tossed about these past couple of weeks, but all of them are net losses once additional bowl revenue splits and non-revenue sports travel costs are factored in.
Notre Dame, even in a historic slump, is still sitting too pretty to consider joining a conference. Why split the profits from NBC and the occasional bowl game? Why change when the Irish can have their cake and eat it too?
The Big Ten and Notre Dame are meant for each other. JoPa is right. The Big Ten could greatly benefit from a championship game. Likewise, Notre Dame stands to benefit academically from a relationship with the Committee of Institutional Cooperation (Big Ten plus U. of Chicago) while not compromising traditional rivalries.
So how do we get there from here? Change won't come from the Big Ten. It won't come from Notre Dame.
NCAA rule change? Yeah, fat chance.
No, real change has to come from real power—so in this case, from the BCS. Nothing sweeping, or broad. Just one little minor change, just a few words in fact, makes the Fighting Irish the 12th team in the Big Ten:
"Only primary conference champions may play in the BCS title game."
By "primary" I mean in the case of "co-champions" only the co-champ winning the tie-breaker rules in the individual conference would be eligible for the title game.
Makes sense, doesn't it? It keeps situations like Ohio State vs. Michigan or Texas vs. Oklahoma in a boring idiotic rematch from happening a few days after New Year's. It also eliminates the possibilities of a conference No. 2 slipping into the title game and keeps two teams from a conference without a title match and a rotating schedule from gaming the system.
Unless the Irish were to join a conference, be it the Big Ten or the Big East, they'd be out of luck. Of course they would then join a conference to be eligible for the BCS Championship game and the associated payday.
While there would be an outside chance that Notre Dame would hitch its wagon to the Big East—which it might come to dominate given time and a new coach—tradition means too much to the Irish, and that tradition would be best preserved in the Big Ten.
Add to that the Notre Dame faculty vote the last time expansion was considered. Yes, they did vote to join the Big Ten. It was other forces within the university that nixed the idea.
It's a safe bet that if push came to shove in this fashion, the Irish would willingly become the Big Ten's No. 12.