- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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No, the Big 12 isn't planning on expanding just yet. That doesn't necessarily mean it wouldn't welcome Notre Dame, though.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told CBSSports.com on Tuesday that conference representatives have spoken with the Irish as far back as August 2010 about moving the athletic department's Olympic sports to the Big 12.
"Notre Dame has options," Dodds said. "I think they love their position. I certainly think they can continue to do what they're doing and do it well and be a major player. But they have options.
"We've talked to Notre Dame about the Big 12 ... They could put some football here [by playing a few non-conference games against Big 12 opponents]."
They love their position. They have options.
It is nice to be wanted, and Notre Dame is certainly wanted. On Monday, Irish men's basketball coach Mike Brey told CBSSports.com's Brett Murphy: "I'll say this: if it doesn't work out [in the Big East], everybody's got a spot for us [in another league]. I hope we keep our spot here and keep moving forward and massaging that. But whatever happens, we're going to land on our feet. I guarantee that."
It is comforting for Notre Dame to know that the Big 12 offers a nice landing spot should the Big East ever fall apart, though Brey has said this past year that he'd like for his program to land somewhere East if AD Jack Swarbrick is left with no other choice.
What does this all mean? Well, barring anything unforeseen in the immediate future -- and I've come to grips during the past year with the fact that nothing can ever be really ruled out when it comes to conference realignment -- Notre Dame is just fine, for now. The ACC looks less attractive this week than it did last week should the Irish ever reverse course and surrender their football independence, but the athletic department as a whole would surely be welcomed with open arms if push eventually comes to shove. And its Olympic sports would appear to be have a secure, albeit out of the way, destination should the Irish need to find a new home for those.