Once again, the Big East Conference finds itself on the precipice of extinction at the hands of conference realignment. This time, though, Notre Dame will decide whether the conference topples or survives another scare.
According to reports, Notre Dame, who is currently renegotiating its exclusive television contract with NBC, could soon be put in a position where it must choose a conference in which to play football. The NCAA has finished its first round of talks regarding a BCS playoff format; currently, Notre Dame likes where it stands in those discussions as an independent program.
However, as discussions continue, will all teams eligible for the playoffs be required to be part of a major conference? If so, many see Notre Dame making a jump...to the ACC. As of now, the Irish play all sports except football in the Big East.
"The next critical Jenga piece is Notre Dame, which would definitely leave if the basketball universities left -- and could possibly leave even if they don't," Pete Thamel of the New York Times wrote. "The ACC is the most likely destination. The Irish's television contract with NBC, currently under negotiation, will go a long way in determining their future -- as will how they fare as a stakeholder in the new college football playoff. That appears to be safe and stable for now. "If Notre Dame leaves for the ACC, its only realistic destination, the ACC will take Connecticut or Rutgers to make it a 16-team league. And that would send all the Big East blocks tumbling."
If Notre Dame takes off to the ACC, Cincinnati and Louisville will clamor to be out from under the Big East as it begins to collapse. Experts believe the Bearcats and Cardinals, long-time rivals and conference brethren, we seek out and be accepted by the Big 12. Boise State and San Diego State likely have an open offer to rejoin the Mountain West, which they would gladly accept.
With those dominoes down, teams like Houston, UCF and SMU would be responsible for keeping the Big East in tact, a chore which is undoubtedly over their heads.
Oh, and best of luck to the next Big East Commissioner.
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