• 68°

Look for Big 10 to target Irish again in expansion

So, will the Big Ten expand to 12 teams? And if they do, who will it be? And will they continue to call themselves the Big 10 since there is already a Big 12.

The Big 10 is looking seriously again at expansion. They are again targeting Notre Dame but have a short list that includes Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Texas, Missouri and Syracuse. Texas has already said it is happy with its place in the Big 12.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno said last summer that Notre Dame had its chance and turned it down. Forget them.

Don’t be so bitter, Joe. As long as you’ve been around you should remember some of the history behind Notre Dame not being a member of the Big 10.

First of all, Notre Dame applied to the Big 10 during the 1940s but they were turned down. Now, you have to remember that this was the 1940s to understand the reasoning.

The Big 10 told Notre Dame that they couldn’t have a Catholic institution in the league. Oh, they acknowledged that teams in the Big 10 had Catholic players, but they couldn’t have an entire institution.

Like I said, this was the 1940s. It was during this time period the FBI uncovered a plot by the Ku Klux Klan to blow up Notre Dame stadium during one of its games.

Notre Dame remained independent, built a national schedule and flourished financially. That’s a tough gig to give up, but it might have to do it.

The move in college football is to create super conferences and have a playoff game between the division champions. Unfortunately, with more conference games come softer preliminary schedules and fewer inter-sectional games.

The day of Oklahoma and Ohio State or Michigan and Alabama playing could be gone, and that’s a shame. The only time you might see those kind of match ups will be in bowl games.

There has been a lot of pressure to get Notre Dame into the Big 10 or any conference. Notre Dame has that NBC-TV contract that’s worth millions. The negative press that seems to follow the Irish mostly comes from CBS, ABC and its offspring ESPN.

And there is an underlying reason. Those networks would like nothing more than to have Notre Dame included in their total TV package. So if Notre Dame merges with the Big 10, look for NBC to try and negotiate its way back into the college football picture.

If Notre Dame isn’t the new kid on the block, then the push will be for a big TV market such as Rutgers who’s in New Jersey or Syracuse who’s in New York.

And then who knows? Maybe the Big 10 will add two teams so that they can call their conference the Baker’s Dozen.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.