For the first time ever, it appears that Notre Dame may be serious about committing its football program to a major conference. Of course, the Irish are already full-fledged members of the hoops-centric Big East, save football. Now Notre Dame is reportedly considering the Big 10 as a landing spot for its entire sports program, including football.
(UConn’s Edsall, Big East: First On Scoreboard, Last In Boardroom)
With that news, UConn football coach Randy Edsall, who was reportedly a candidate for the Notre Dame football coaching position before Brian Kelly was hired, thinks it’s time for the Big East to demand that the Irish either commit fully to their present conference or cut ties completely with the Big East.
Edsall’s sentiment was recorded by Marc Allard of the NORWICH (CT) BULLETIN as part of a Q & A:
Q: How concerned are you about the shape of the Big East right now?
Edsall: There’s concern, but I can’t consume myself with that because I have no control over it. The only thing I’m trying to do is to get our team ready to play this season, but there’s very legitimate concern and however it unfolds is completely out of my hands as a coach. You have to trust the people from the Big East office and the people within our institution to go out and get the best situation for our university and for the Big East Conference.
Q: Should a football ultimatum be given to Notre Dame soon?
Edsall: I think that’s something the powers that be are discussing in terms of the strategies that they’re looking at to be proactive rather than reactive.
Note: In a question-and-answer session with the audience, Edsall said the football coaches have been asking the conference to deliver an ultimatum to Notre Dame to come into the conference for football or get out entirely for the last two years. He added that, if as speculated, two teams leave for the Big Ten, “the Big East is all done.”
Edsall’s concerns are certainly understandable. He’s done an unbelievable job building the UConn football program, culminating with an emotional victory at Notre Dame late last season.
But if a combination of Syracuse, Rutgers and/or Pittburgh bolt the Big East for the Big Ten, that could leave the Big East with as few as six football schools. Best case after that would be a merger with the ACC, but who knows what will happen.
If the Big East doesn’t merge with the ACC, the pickings are very slim on what football schools the conference would look to add. I honestly don’t think it will ever get that far, as the remaining Big East schools with strong football programs would recognize that an automatic BCS Bowl berth would ultimately out the window regardless of the new, “expansion” schools.
As Edsall said, the Big East as a BCS football conference would be extinct if it loses two prominent, football-playing members.
Edsall’s biggest problem in all of this is that football will determine the future makeup of the BCS conferences, and the Big East is a hoops-centric league. A pre-emptive request of Notre Dame about its intentions by the Big East is meaningless as the league has zero leverage in the entire discussion.
In fact, the Big East is just lucky to still be in the room at the moment.