It’s no secret the Big Ten would love to add Notre Dame to the fold, particularly after it annexed USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 last week.
For decades though, the Fighting Irish have been proudly independent in football, and remaining so is the school’s preference, according to Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde.
However, Forde said there are two factors that could lead Notre Dame out of independence and into a league, most likely the Big Ten.
“Two areas to monitor: the fates of both the College Football Playoff and the Atlantic Coast Conference,” Forde wrote. “If one or both collapse, Notre Dame could be compelled into the Big Ten. Per its current contract, the playoff ceases to exist in January 2026. There is no guarantee another iteration of it will take its place, at any size.”
“The vast majority of the writing assumes a playoff, and that it’s going to get bigger,” says the industry source. “I’m not sure about that assumption.”
Currently, Notre Dame is an ACC member for all sports except football and hockey, and the Irish are partnered with the league on the gridiron, playing five ACC opponents per year.
The league would love to find a way to lure ND in full-time, but outside of the COVID-affected 2020 season, that has not happened.
In addition to the issues Forde noted, former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn said recently that the upcoming Big Ten television rights negotiations could impact his alma mater’s decision-making.
“Big [Ten] rights will determine 2 key factors: what’s the opportunity cost, & who is left out of CFB,” Quinn said on Twitter. “ND sits in a position of leverage w/ multiple networks competing for their home game rights. How desperate will 3 letter networks be for CFB who don’t share the Big [Ten] rights?”
The Big Ten’s current media rights deal expires in 2023. FOX is reportedly already in line to cover “at least half” of the league’s football games after that, with CBS reportedly “likely to secure a package” as well.