Our series looking at the pros and cons of each conference for Notre Dame continues today with the Big East, which, of course, already houses much of the Irish's athletic department.
To read previous entries from this series, click here.
Headquarters: Providence, R.I.
Schools: Well, this is complicated. Let's break it down. (* denotes football-only member, though Temple will be a full member in 2013; bold indicates departing member)
Football, 2012 season: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pitt, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, Temple*
Football additions, 2013 season: Boise State*, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State*, Southern Methodist
Football addition, 2015 season: Navy*
Non-football full members: DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova
Reasons for Notre Dame to join: The Irish are already in the Big East, sort of. Eighteen of their 21 Division I teams are in the Big East, with football, hockey and fencing being the exceptions. (The Big East doesn't field a hockey or fencing league.) All of those sports benefit from their East Coast connections, especially both basketball programs. Notre Dame, as we've said again and again, is an East Coast school that just happens to sit in Indiana. Frankly, you just can't beat the deal that Notre Dame currently has with the Big East, which houses most of the school's sports teams while allowing the king, the football program, to maintain its national appeal and not join what is, to the most optimistic of eyes, the sixth-best football conference around. (Deals such as taking the Big East's Champs Sports Bowl spot in 2011 and possibly stealing a major bowl spot away with a future Orange Bowl tie-in makes this deal even sweeter for the Irish.)
Reasons for Notre Dame not to join: The Big East of today (and tomorrow) is not the Big East that Notre Dame signed up for in 1995. Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech are in the ACC. West Virginia begins play this season in the Big 12. TCU bolted for the Big 12 before playing a game in the Big East. Syracuse and Pitt are on their way to the ACC in the near future. Replacing these schools is a group of members — some full members, some not — from across the country, clouding the geographic footprint of the conference and leading to much speculation about its stability. Commissioner John Marinatto resigned in May, and the conference is losing its "automatic qualifying" status. If the Big East were to fold, Notre Dame would have to find a new home for its Olympic sports — which may only be welcomed by another conference if the football team comes along, thereby ending the program's independence.