As Big Ten grows stronger, the Notre Dame question looms

As Big Ten grows stronger, the Notre Dame question looms

Indianapolis – While pursuing his accelerated MBA at Mendoza College of Business, former Notre Dame linebacker Adam Shibley gives a presentation to Professor Patrick Gibbons’ class.

Transferring graduate from the University of Michigan, Shibli made a case for Notre Dame to surrender his football independence and join the Big Ten Conference in all sports, not just hockey.

“I got an A,” Shibli said at Big Ten Media Days this week. “People loved it. Obviously, I’m a little biased, but I’ve always been an advocate. Notre Dame is a perfect choice.”

The theme seems particularly pertinent given the events of the past month. With USC and UCLA slated to expand the Big Ten to 16 members by the fall of 2024, the era of mega-conferences is upon us.

As Shibli prepares to begin a two-year fellowship in the Big Ten office, where he will conduct research projects and meet regularly with Commissioner Kevin Warren, an age-old question has reached fever pitch again.

Is Notre Dame better off remaining independent as a football power or should it jump to full conference affiliation?

And if it does, shouldn’t it be in a league like the Big Ten, which shares its academic, athletic, and geographic profile more secretly than Notre Dame, a partial arrangement with the Atlantic Coast Conference since 2014?

“That would be really cool to see,” Shibli said, “and I think Commissioner Warren is the perfect person to do that.”

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elephant in the dome

Set aside for a moment the “Grant of Rights” agreement with ESPN, which handcuffs all ACC football schools until 2036. That deal may still be in the works, and even if it isn’t, Notre Dame’s actual exit fee will be much more modest than that. Full ACC members.

Wherever you went for those two days at Lucas Oil Stadium, it looked like the elephant in the Notre Dame dome.

Even reported that six schools beyond Notre Dame were under consideration by the Big Ten – Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California out of the Pac-12, Miami and Florida State out of the ACC – with the Irish leading the way. . public discussion.

Former Wisconsin football coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez completed his first year as a special advisor to the Big Ten for football, sharing his vision as a former Irish defensive assistant from 1987–89. He noted several times that trips to Texas along both coasts would remind Lou Holtz’s coaching staff of the program’s broad appeal at the time.

“I could see the magnitude of their fan base and how important it is to be independent,” Alvarez said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the league as they continue to expand. Will it be hard to schedule? I don’t know, but it’s something that should be considered.”

Alvarez did not name his former employer in South Bend, closing all the required attributes for any potential Big Ten additions. He didn’t have to.

“The school’s profile has to fit the profile of the Big Ten,” he said. “Academics are important, brand. You have to bring something to the party…be it the public eye or the location.

After five straight 10-win seasons, Notre Dame football has never been in a better negotiating position in the sport’s modern era. If USC and UCLA were given the full revenue shares of the impending TV rights deal Warren was negotiating, imagine the kind of sweetness the Irish might demand.

“These two schools that we just linked bring to LA,” Alvarez said. “They are brand-name schools that have had success, they have a great tradition. Academically, they are strong. So, they bring a lot. They bring a lot to the league.”

do math

CBS Sports reported that it could take an annual figure of $75 million for Notre Dame to rejoin NBC when its current deal expires in 2025. This would mark an increase of five times the average, although such deals are usually backloaded. ,

Should the Big Ten push out 20 members, Irish or Irish, $1.5 billion per year in broadcast rights would work out to $75 million per institution.

Warren, a 1990 graduate of Notre Dame Law School, wisely declined to give a limit on where the Big Ten’s new broadcast rights deal could fall. However, $75 million per school on a yearly basis sounds about right.

“I don’t think it’s a secret,” said Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman. “Everyone thinks Notre Dame will be a great addition to a long list of reasons at the Big Ten convention. But in the end, of course, they have to make their own decisions that they need to make.”

Notre Dame Eddie Jack Swarbrick is not one to act rashly, regardless of the circumstances. Noting the lack of clarity on the future expansion of the college football playoffs – and Notre Dame’s ability to “maintain viable access” to it, whether the playoffs settle into eight, 12 or even 16 teams – It is wisest to wait till then. Dust collects.

“They exist in a very unique place in college athletics,” Whitman said. “We certainly respect the tradition of freedom that they have really enjoyed for a long time, and they will make decisions that are in their own best interest at the time that they feel is most appropriate. Will be there for them because they want to talk.”

Asked to share his elevator pitch to Swarbrick, Whitman laughed.

“I don’t know if I’m the one who needs to make an elevator pitch,” he said, as he enters his seventh fall on the job. “I think the Big Ten is in a really good position right now to take full advantage of the changing landscape in college athletics. There seems to be a consolidation under the feet. It looks like these affiliations are really important for future programmatic success. going to be important.

“Geographically, of course, we are clearly fit for what we do. I think that philosophically we correspond well with a lot of what we understand from Notre Dame. But then again From now on, everyone makes their own decisions in their own timeline.”

In the meantime, Warren and Swarbrick might want to request a copy of Shibli’s classroom presentation from last fall. At this stage in what has become an incredibly high-stakes poker game, those two knowledgeable power brokers need all the data points they can collect.

Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for the South Bend Tribune and follow him on twitter @MikeBerardino,

This article was originally featured on USA Today: Will Notre Dame Join Big Ten Under Football Commissioner Kevin Warren

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