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Monday, July 9, 2012
Conference compatibility: Big 12

By Matt Fortuna

Buried in the midst of my mailbag was this question/suggestion from reader Della from Detroit, who asked, simply:
Which conference would be the best fit for Notre Dame: Big East, ACC, Big 12, or Big 10? (Can you rank which would be best for and also the possibilities?). Thank you.

Even with college football's new postseason set, the realignment chatter never seems to slow down. With that, we will abide by Della's request this week and examine Notre Dame's compatibility with specific conferences, working our way toward the best potential fit.

Today, we begin with the Big 12.

Headquarters: Irving, Texas

Schools: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

Reasons for Notre Dame to join: Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has spoken publicly about welcoming Notre Dame's Olympic sports in the Big 12, provided that the Irish play a number of conference teams annually in football. Reports also surfaced last month that a move could come by the end of the summer. Knowing there is a safe landing spot for the rest of its athletic department has to be comforting for Notre Dame, given the ever-changing landscape of the Big East.

Reasons for Notre Dame not to join: There is little cultural or academic fit, for one. Despite opening up Texas a bit more, there is little recruiting advantage for Notre Dame, either. Let's remember the discussions that have been made public revolve around the Irish's Olympic sports, too. Taking that into account, the men's and women's basketball programs -- both of which are coming off strong stretches and recently locked up their respective coaches to 10-year extensions -- would be hurt greatly by missing their East Coast presences. So, too, would the men's lacrosse team, which is coming off its second Final Four appearance in three years. No Big 12 school even fields a Div. I lacrosse team. Those are just a few examples. Throw in the expanded travel budgets and out-of-the-way road trips for many of Notre Dame's less-visible sports, and it's hard to imagine the benefits for the athletic department, aside from a place to technically call home should the Big East collapse.