Our series looking at the pros and cons of each conference for Notre Dame continues today with the Big Ten, no stranger to past flirtations with the Irish.
To read about the Big 12, click here.
Headquarters: Park Ridge, Ill. (plans to move to Rosemont, Ill.)
Schools: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Reasons for Notre Dame to join: The conference is based in the Midwest, as is Notre Dame. It has plenty of traditional powers -- Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State, to name a few -- just like the Irish. Three of the Irish's annual opponents already come from the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue), and the conference has a scheduling agreement with the Pac-12 that should be complete around 2017, which would allow the Irish, in some ways, to keep their West Coast presence. The Big Ten also has great access to some of the sport's most attractive bowls. And the conference, simply put, is a cash cow. Its 10-year, $1-billion first-tier rights deal with ESPN expires in 2016-17, and how much it nets from a television network afterward is anyone's guess. There's also the whole Big Ten Network matter. (That's only $2.8 billion for the conference's second-tier rights over 25 years, ending in 2031-32.) Notre Dame's NBC deal, for the record, ends in 2015.
Reasons for Notre Dame not to join: In many ways, Notre Dame may be marginalized as a Midwestern power, which could be a problem when competing with several other Midwestern powers already entrenched in the Big Ten. (Not to mention the fact that the towns of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Columbus, Ohio, are more ideal destinations for prep talent than South Bend, Ind.) As rough as a Big Ten schedule may be, and as beneficial as the Pac-12 agreement will likely turn out for both conferences, the Irish still wouldn't have the national appeal that they do now. Look no further than this year's slate, which features trips to Dublin, Ireland; Norman, Okla.; Boston and Los Angeles. Recruiting for the Irish just wouldn't be the same in the Big Ten. Then, of course, there are the Olympics sports to worry about. Though the shorter travel distances may be a benefit financially, the men's basketball team in particular would lose its coveted East Coast connection. And, frankly, Notre Dame is an East Coast school that just happens to be located in Indiana.