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Notre Dame almost joined the Big Ten

That's the news from the Chicago Tribune today, who got coach Mike Brey to reveal that the basketball team almost jumped to the Big Ten in November 2003:

"He [athletic director Kevin White ] told me to be prepared; we were going to the Big Ten," Brey said during a conference call. "Obviously, that decision changed in the 11th hour.

"There was anxiety: Gosh, what does that mean for our Eastern connections? We've recruited pretty well in that corridor from (Washington) D.C. to Boston. Will we have any kind of clout there if we're playing in the Big Ten?

"And style: Is that league a little more half-court (based), a little more possession by possession? So it was probably half and half -- excitement about the challenge and anxiety on the other side."

Breen's anxiety might be a little different if he were faced with the same question today. After all, the Irish are a mediocre team stuck in a conference with at least eight teams better than them. If Notre Dame was currently playing in the Big Ten, I have a feeling Brey's team would be more than the afterthought they currently are. Imagine if last year's disappointing Irish could have avoided that buzzsaw of a conference schedule and played games against the Big Ten's middle-feeders instead?

Notre Dame sits smack in the middle of Big Ten country, and it makes the most logical sense for the Big Ten's supposed desire to add another basketball team. But it doesn't look likely: Brey says ND "is in the Big East and is going to be in the Big East for a while." Never mind, then, I guess. Who wants to be in the Big Ten? Syracuse? Pitt? Anybody?