Speculation about the role that Notre Dame could play in possible expansion by the Big 12 has gained steam in recent days, in stark contrast to when this whole realignment saga started roughly two years ago, when the Irish looked like an absolute longshot for a conference like the Big 12.
But if there's one takeaway from this whole rollercoaster ride, it's that things change daily, if not hourly, and right now, it appears that the careful courtship of Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick by Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds could result in some serious consideration from the Irish of their conference options.
On Tuesday, Dodds confirmed in an interview with CBSSports.com that the conference has approached Notre Dame about joining:
We've talked to Notre Dame about the Big 12 ... They could put some football here [by playing a few non-conference games against Big 12 opponents].
Dodds is talking about the plan that would have non-football sports join the league, with football having more of a partnership by playing a handful of games against Big 12 teams, which would likely include Texas on a consistent basis -- a game, it seems safe to say, that fans around the country would love to see.
But what about expansion? Texas has been thought to be against it and Dodds confirmed that position as well, once again citing the advantages of not playing a conference championship game:
I don't think it needs to expand. It certainly can expand because there will be people that will want to be a part of it. That's another good thing.We could expand to some number. You name the number -- 12, 14, 16. We could expand but the question is 'do we need to expand?' In my mind 10 is perfect because you play everybody in football and there is a double-round-robin in basketball.
When we get into whatever system we get in for a championship, I think those coaches that play in a conference championship are going to say 'What in the world are we doing?'
Several national columnists got the point:
Dodds is right. If playoff format favors conference champs, title game could really backfire if a 9-3 team upsets your 11-1 team.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) May 22, 2012
Nobody has a better, cleaner, simpler way to a national title than Texas and Oklahoma. Why screw with it right now?— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 22, 2012
There's an argument out there that this type of attitude/belief from Texas is one of the issues in the league, but the bottom line is that Dodds and Brown are completely correct in their desire to maximize their ability to win a national championship. Isn't that every school's prerogative?