How the Big Ten Can Get Notre Dame: Target Pittsburgh, Fold the Big East

Schmolik@@Schmolik64Correspondent IIJune 11, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Head coach Dave Wannstedt of the Pittsburgh Panthers waves to the fans after a 19-17 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Hello, college football fans!

I think most Big Ten fans are hoping for Notre Dame to join their conference. In an ideal world, Notre Dame would join the Big Ten, the Big Ten would have 12, and they'd all be happy.

But, of course, Notre Dame has been reluctant to join.

One of the things Notre Dame has now is a good relationship with the Big East Conference. The Irish can play in the Big East in basketball and all other sports.

In addition, they get access to the Big East's bowl deals (OK, they're not great, but they're still something) and get to keep all the cash, rather than share with the other football members.

What is pretty much the best way to get Notre Dame to join, in my honest opinion?

Find a way to get rid of the Big East (at least in terms of football).

What if there was no conference with whom Notre Dame could share bowl bids? The Fighting Irish would either have to make a BCS bowl or stay home. And if you take the right schools from the Big East, it will be a lot weaker in basketball and other sports, making it less valuable for Notre Dame's other sports.

The reason the Big Ten invited Nebraska and not Missouri could have been because it was apparent Nebraska was the team that would cause the Big 12 to fall apart.

So the question is, who is the Nebraska of the Big East? Maybe at least two teams are needed, maybe three.

There are three Big East schools in the AAU (Pitt, Syracuse, and Rutgers) and one additional top tier (according to US News & World Report) in Connecticut. The other four schools are Tier Three or lower, so I am assuming they are out.

If the only way the Big East will fold is if all four teams leave; then the Big Ten has to take all four teams to get the Irish.

Assuming the Big Ten is saving one spot for Notre Dame and it won't go past 16, it has three open spots—it foolishly gave one to Nebraska already. Why waste one spot on Nebraska?

Unless there is some miracle heart transplant in the next few days, the Big 12 is finished anyway. Is Nebraska going to encourage Notre Dame to join? Is Missouri?

It's the Big East we've got to target now, not the Big 12.

So, we should do what the Pac-10 did, invite one member of the Big East and see what happens (of course you have to choose the team carefully).

If Notre Dame accepts, then we can end it at 14 and have two fewer pieces of the pie to hand out. Who knows, maybe the Big Ten can start rumors, and the Big East will accidentally spill which member(s) they can't afford to lose like the Big 12 did.

My opinion: I think they should invite Pittsburgh first.

They are in the largest city of the four schools (Piscataway does not count). I also think breaking up the Backyard Brawl would help. It's very unlikely the Big Ten would take West Virginia, but maybe if Pittsburgh goes to the Big Ten, West Virginia has more incentive to look for the SEC or ACC.

If Pitt is still in the Big East, West Virginia has more reason to stay.

Another thing to keep in mind: the Notre Dame/Pittsburgh rivalry. I would imagine the Irish might have more incentive to join the Big Ten if Pitt was in it than any of the other three schools were in it.

I doubt we can do it, but maybe we could invite Pittsburgh to the Big Ten with the condition that they can't play Notre Dame non-conference in football anymore. Then again, I don't think the Big Ten can tell its current members not to play Notre Dame.

In addition, Pittsburgh is a long-term member of the Big East. Can you imagine a Big East without the Panthers? Syracuse is also a long-term member of the Big East. Rutgers joined the Big East over a decade later. UConn was a founding member, but didn't join in football until recently.

I would think the loss of Syracuse and Pitt would cause more alarm to the Big East's offices than Rutgers or UConn would. Maybe they need two or three to finish off the Big East, but I would try Pitt first.

Don't forget about basketball. I would imagine if the Big Ten steals the stronger basketball members, that would encourage Notre Dame basketball to leave the Big East.

In a sense, Big East basketball may be more important to Notre Dame than Big East football. Why does it care how strong the Big East is in football? The Fighting Irish don't play in the league.

So, the way to get Notre Dame?

Through Pittsburgh—causing Big East football to fold. Or better yet, get Notre Dame on the phone and ask which team it would want as a conference partner. I would imagine of the four Big East targets, Pittsburgh would be at the top of the list.

After taking Pittsburgh, if Notre Dame still does not want to join, then take two more Big East schools (any two of the other three).

Hey, the Pac-10 listened to my advice about taking Colorado first, and if it gets Texas and the other schools, thank me. Well, here's my advice to the Big Ten: If Notre Dame is the big fish, Pittsburgh is the bait.

Or should I say Pitt is it!

Note: I started to write this before the Big Ten accepted Nebraska. My original plan was to take Pitt and Syracuse to get Notre Dame, but we lost one spot, because Nebraska stole it. So, if Pittsburgh isn't enough to get Notre Dame, it has to be 16 to get them and 14 won't be enough.


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