Mailbag question: Notre Dame and the Big Ten


Posted at 8:00am — 5/20/2010

Mailbag question: Notre Dame and the Big Ten


Do you guys believe that if Notre Dame doesn’t join the Big Ten this time that the teams in the Big Ten should stop scheduling themselves against Notre Dame, because that just helps them out?
Jane F.


Thanks for the question.

This is a tough question for the conference in general because playing Notre Dame in Big Ten Country does help gain exposure for some teams, while other teams would not suffer one iota without Notre Dame on the schedule.

We agree with Bo on this one: if Notre Dame wants to play Big Ten teams and reap the benefit, then they should join the conference.

It makes no sense to us to allow Notre Dame to benefit financially from playing Big Ten teams without the conference gaining as well. In ecology there is a concept called symbiotic relationships, whereby one entity has a relationship with another entity. One such relationship is titled mutualism, where both parties benefit. Another is termed parasitism, where one entity benefits and another is harmed. We will leave it to the readers to determine which (if either) of the ecology analogies fit Notre Dame.

The big question is will the entire Big Ten agree not to schedule Notre Dame in any sport if they again turn the Big Ten down? That is a huge question and we believe this matter needs an across the board agreement before the expansion train travels much further. Notre Dame needs to know when the last train is leaving the station. If you are going to cut the Irish off the football list, then do the same for the other sports as well.

Would it hurt the Big Ten schools not playing Notre Dame? Yes, we believe it probably could hurt some schools that play Notre Dame, a national power that is in close proximity to several Big Ten schools.

Can a conference legitimately ask/demand a program like Purdue to give up one of its few national television games each year when they play Notre Dame?

Could Michigan successfully break its twenty-year contract with Notre Dame, using as justification that the Irish turned down membership in the Big Ten?

Would any of this hurt Notre Dame? Possibly, a little bit. But as we have lately heard, Notre Dame is in discussions with renewing the Notre Dame vs. Miami series. We believe that if Notre Dame would agree to rescind Big Ten contracts, the Irish would quickly and easily fill the void with past rivals that could actually increase attention to their games. Miami, Brigham Young, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and Florida State might be willing to fill the bill, at least short-term.

It would be financially a disadvantage for both the Big Ten and Notre Dame not to play, and that is why the Big Ten and Notre Dame currently play/tolerate each other, it is a win/win scenario in the follow the money world.

Most people are only looking at the coming expansion through football eyes, but Michigan has twenty-five sports (the Big Ten in general has more sports than Notre Dame), most of them non-revenue. Notre Dame joining the Big Ten could help student-athletes of minor sports by having less time out of school and less time on buses.

Travel, academics, proximity, and natural rivalries point to Notre Dame being a good fit for the Big Ten Conference. But the dumbest thing the Big Ten could do would be to admit Notre Dame into the league for all sports excepting football, allowing Notre Dame to have the best of both worlds: less travel, better minor sports situations and the big, fat football check that is solely cashed and kept in South Bend.

Not to fear, the Big Ten crowd is smart enough to know a parasitic relationship when they see it, aren’t they?

Written by GBMW Staff

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