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Notre Dame is the best option for further BIG Ten expansion. BIG Candidates part 1

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Game-Changing News

It was announced yesterday, June 30th, 2022, that two historical PAC-12 powers, UCLA and USC, are joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024. This is the next major domino to fall in modern conference expansion. Following this move, the BIG Ten will sit at 16 teams. The widely held expectation is that multiple schools will be interested in joining the BIG Ten as expansion continues. Notre Dame seems like the perfect fit for further expansion. The SEC and the BIG Ten, chief among CFB's top conferences, are expected to grow to 20 teams each.

Looking at the BIG Ten, four spots are left for more potential teams to be added. I expect all four spots to be filled in the next few years, possibly sooner. With that said, far more than four schools will be interested in joining the conference. The Big Ten is the most lucrative destination in college sports. Each member institution is expected to earn around $60 million a year from the conference's new TV revenue-sharing deal.

Criteria for Strong Candidates

Coming out of the Covid-era, many universities' athletic departments made tough decisions facing the financial hardships of the pandemic. Those decisions included leaving their conferences for better financial situations. Both UCLA and USC are successful not only in football and basketball. They also bolster successful non-revenue sports programs as well. The Big Ten has been the top conference for participation in Olympic and non-revenue sports for a long time. Schools wanting to join the conference need athletic departments that include a wide array of sports programs outside of the traditional football and basketball programs.

Schools that want competitive candidates to join the Big Ten must meet other essential standards. In past additions, the Big Ten has primarily admitted AAU accredited schools. Schools will also need football and basketball programs that expect to be competitive in the conference play in most sports.

Outside of athletics, the Big Ten comprises an elite public and private flagship schools with large and active alumni bases. Schools added to the conference must be capable of meeting the high-level academic and research standards that are precedent in the conference.

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Notre Dame is the best candidate.

The natural fit, Notre Dame, would be a no-brainer add if the Big Ten could land them. Notre Dame checks every box the Big Ten may have. Qualifications include a legendary football program, a solid basketball program, and strong non-revenue sports. Also, they have elite academics and a highly engaged and wealthy alumni base. Lastly, they are one of the most valuable brand names in college sports. It is worth noting that Notre Dame is also a geographical fit, located in the heart of Indiana.


Adding Notre Dame would be a massive win for the Big Ten, but some complications could stand in the way. One, Notre Dame supporters are famously proud of their independent status in football. In addition, all non-football sports at Notre Dame are already members of the ACC. Leaving for the Big Ten would incur millions in exit fees. For the Notre Dame faculty and alumni, the question is, will the step up in competition level be worth it? Also, how will it be paid for?


Honestly, I would personally say that this is worth it. Joining the Big Ten could likely double or triple their TV revenue, meaning that joining the conference could pay for itself quickly.

Competiton

There is the possibility that the Big Ten will move to a pod system like the ACC just did. I have heard questions about Notre Dame not wanting to play in such a loaded conference, and being from the mid-west and knowing many Notre Dame supporters, that sounds nothing like Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has been playing in some of the most high-profile rivalries in college football for a long time. By joining the Big Ten, Notre Dame would almost certainly get protected matchups against USC and Michigan, two of their most hated rivals. Ask anyone in the Notre Dame program; they want to play their rivals every year and aren't afraid of high-profile matchups. High-profile matchups are what their brand has been built around.

I expect to hear talks of Notre Dame being added to the Big Ten. I also hope that the opportunity to play better competition, have more rivalry games, and make more money is something Notre Dame couldn't turn down if offered admission to the BIG Ten.