The dust has barely settled following the bombshell news that powerhouse West Coast college brands USC and UCLA are departing the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. Yet many find themselves wondering who might be next?
One possibility is Notre Dame, which is independent in football.
“The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are officially the last great college football brand that is not in the Big Ten or the SEC. They’re it, and both [conferences] would take them, though I think academically and geographically [the] Big Ten fits,” Cowherd said. “I know, Miami, Miami. Yeah, [they] have been irrelevant for 20 years. They’re not a great football brand. Nobody goes to [their] games. … Clemson is not a national brand. It’s great, but it’s regional. Nobody really … knows it [or] cares about it. Florida State, same thing.”
Is Notre Dame the next program to join the Big Ten?
Colin Cowherd explains why the Fighting Irish would be a great fit in the Big Ten.
“College football has a big game problem, there’s not enough good big games for TV,” Cowherd continued. “It also has a situation where so many Saturdays we’re sitting around sort of waiting for the big game at night. The Big Ten airs its games early. … People say this all the time, ‘There’s nothing to fix. College football is great.’ No, that’s not true. It’s on a seven-year attendance and ratings decline. It needs a testosterone shot in the arm. USC and UCLA to the Big Ten help. Notre Dame to the Big Ten would be B-12 times 10.
“College football is not perfect. People love tradition. … You know what the dominant tradition is in college football [over] the last decade? That an SEC team will get to the national championship game and two out of three years win it. That’s great for one conference. That’s great for one region. I got nothing against that region, but you can’t build a sport on one region and one conference. I don’t know if Notre Dame going to the Big Ten can solve the SEC dominance issue, but I know it can solve the more big games during the regular season issue. Just look at a Big Ten schedule.”
The Big Ten expansion has left many thinking that college football is headed toward a pro model with two mega-conferences. It’s a win for other schools in the Big Ten that feel USC and UCLA can help “carry some weight,” while it’s a blow for the Pac-12, which hasn’t sent a team to the College Football Playoff since 2016.
With the additions of USC and UCLA, the Big Ten increases its membership to 16 teams. The SEC will also increase its membership to 16 by 2025 after voting last year to add Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12.
In 2012, Notre Dame joined the ACC in all sports except for football (independent) and hockey, which currently competes in the Big Ten.
Notre Dame considered joining the Big Ten in 2003 but ultimately decided against it.
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