The latest phase of college football’s expansion and realignment could involve the Big Ten again if the conference has its way.
The league is targeting four Pac-12 schools in addition to Notre Dame for further expansion, according to Action Network.
This latest push comes after representatives from Washington met with Big Ten officials in “preliminary discussions” about the possibility of joining the conference in the future.
In all, the league is interested in adding Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California to its portfolio in addition to the Fighting Irish.
Big Ten busy behind the scenes
That meeting comes a week after people from Oregon met with the Big Ten for the same reason.
Notably, though, the Oregon meeting did not include the school’s president or AD or Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, suggesting any potential union process is still in the early stages.
The Big Ten kicked off college football’s latest round of expansion and realignment when they voted to add USC and UCLA in time for the 2024 college football season.
That move expanded the Big Ten’s reach in Los Angeles’s highly valuable media market, and adding these other Pac-12 schools would further increase the league’s reach in the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest.
Notre Dame Factor
Notre Dame has maintained its footballing independence from the start, but the Big Ten have made no secret of their interest in the Irish.
But for its part, it seems Notre Dame won’t join any conference unless absolutely necessary.
“You could argue that our independence has never been more valuable than it is right now,” AD Jack Swarbrick said this offseason.
Notre Dame has been able to maintain independence thanks to three key facts, as Swarbrick said earlier this summer: 1) the school’s deal with NBC, 2) access to the college football season and playoffs, and 3) being able to avoid any “adverse financial consequences” of not joining a conference.
Now, with NBC signing on to broadcast the Big Ten games, he would theoretically have enough money to increase the value of his Notre Dame deal.
Thus allowing the Irish to have the financial cushion to remain independent.
But that doesn’t mean the Big Ten won’t be interested in the future.
Notre Dame AD’s revealing comment about joining a conference
Oregon Contacts Big Ten About Membership: Report
Big Ten could reach 20 members, commissioner admits
How the Big Ten could influence Notre Dame’s football schedule
Follow the home of college football: Bookmark | Classifications | Facebook