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Notre Dame: Center Of College Football Attention, Whether We Want It To Be Or Not

Following the intrigues regarding various college football conferences’ expansion plans is like watching a serious-minded spy movie from the 1960s, only to see it turn into “Get Smart."

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From the New York Times today, would you believe that Notre Dame is once again a focus of expansion attention?

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The Irish have become the unintentional linchpin of conference expansion because of their potential value to the Big Ten. It is clear that the Irish would prefer to stay as an independent, which [ND Athletic Director Jack] Swarbrick has vehemently maintained, but he is potentially facing a conundrum: Does Notre Dame become the 12th team in the Big Ten or does it risk being forced to later join the conference as the 16th team?

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The Big Ten has 11 teams, and if it adds Notre Dame, which it appears it wants to, the Irish would probably not want to be part of a 16-team superleague. The Irish, in theory, would have the power to cap the league at 12 teams.

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I won’t hold back: I’m not a Notre Dame fan. Their record since 1997 is a pedestrian 81-68-1, and when they beat up on poor Hawaii in 2008 in the Hawaii Bowl, that made their bowl record 1-9 since 1994. Their coaching situation has been a mess, and that might be an insult to messes.

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The Irish are fading into irrelevance. Maybe the Big Ten (or 11, or 12, or 16) would be better off without them.