Notre Dame, A Big East Ultimatum and Conference Survival

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IApril 29, 2010

These are uncertain times for the Big East conference. Very uncertain, and very disturbing times. The Big Ten is out there, plotting and whispering, behind closed doors and then in public, for all those who want to listen.

The Big Ten is uttering the "E" word. The "expansion" word, and the Big East can hear it.The Big East with its small band of eight football members, is easy pickins. Very easy pickins.

An invite to Pittsburgh, Rutgers, or any other Big East team will require about 10 seconds of pondering time to blurt out: "Yes, when?"

It's that precarious for the Big East.

"If two teams leave," the Big East is done, is how UConn coach Randy Edsall put it recently. He was talking at a luncheon for the Northeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce.

Edsall also had another interesting to say. Seems the Big East coaches have been huddling amongst themselves and have been pressing Big East Commissioner John Marinatto to get proactive. They want him to issue an ultimatum to Notre Dame, of all people, or, should we say, places.

They want the Commissioner to tell Notre Dame to get in for football or get out for the rest of its sports. Notre Dame is a Big East member for all its sports with the exception of football.

If you ask virtually anyone with any insight on the subject, they'll tell you that the chances of Notre Dame joining the Big East for football are slim and none, and slim left town a long time ago.

So why issue an ultimatum to the Giant Green Elephant in South Bend?

Perhaps with no home for its other sports, the Irish just might change their tune about joining the Big Ten. And the Big East football coaches hope that if that were to happen by some small miracle, the Big Ten would be satisfied with the conquest and quit making goo-goo eyes at Pitt and Rutgers, for openers.

Marinatto may not be willing to issue any sort of ultimatum to the likes of Notre Dame. The "other sports" relationship has worked out okay for the Big East.

Still, Marinatto has gone somewhat proactive. He's added former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to his payroll as a "consultant."

So Tags is aboard and he has the unenviable job of trying to avoid disaster.

And the only remaining question might be:

Can Paul Tagliabue save the Big East?

Stay tuned.