MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

We knew it was coming. We just didn’t know what, who and where it would go.

As it turns out, it was the University of Southern California and UCLA who wrote the headlines by announcing they would leave the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten Conference effective 2024. With it, the Big Ten became more powerful than ever, having expanded its footprint from the East Coast to the West Coast with its traditional Midwest everything else in the middle, now giving the conference five of the top seven media markets in the country – Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and now the motherlode, both Los Angeles schools.

The additions of the Trojans and the Bruins give the Big Ten 16 schools to match the SEC, who themselves poached Oklahoma and Texas last summer. Meanwhile, the Pac-12, having lost its two marquee schools and media market, as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12, three of the conferences who were once part of the Power 5 Conference Alliance can now consider themselves to be in serious trouble, as the Big Ten and the SEC are now effectively the Power 2 with no evidence that either conference intends to stop here.

Which places Notre Dame squarely and prominently into the picture.

Where is Notre Dame in all of this? So, where is Notre Dame?

They’re somewhere, you can bet your eye teeth on that. Notre Dame has prestige, tradition, the national following, academics, money, its own network TV deal. And … they’re greedy.

Where is Stanford? Great academics. Smart folks. Think tanks. Pretty darn good athletics on the national scale.

Where is North Carolina? Great academics; better fake classes for athletes that the NCAA has already proven it won’t dare investigate. They hate Duke, and pretty good athletics on the national scale.

Where is Oregon? Nike owner Phil Knight announced on Wednesday he wants them in the Big Ten, which means the Pac-12 is done.

Where is Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Boston College? Boston’s a major media market, which, really, is what this is all about.

Where is anybody?

It’s all coming apart, and it should be, because in all of the conferences’ greed and the NCAA’s greed, it’s about time the athletes get some payback on what they generate, and it’s about time the NCAA falls off the face of the earth.

Now you’re going to see tigers eat their young, for to stay alive, the Big 12 is going to try to raid what’s left of the viable commodities of the Pac-12 – Arizona, Arizona State, maybe Oregon (although Knight wants the Ducks in the Big Ten). If the Big 12 is to survive, it has no other choice.

Conversely, you’ll see the SEC sniff around with Clemson, Miami and Florida State, which will not bode well whatsoever for the ACC, which, frankly, and quite childishly, if I may say so myself, would be just fine with me.

Uh, West Virginia? Around here, that is the $64 question.

As for the ACC? The ACC is in some pretty real trouble right now, none of which (for once) is its doing. All hell is about to break loose amongst the college athletics conferences, not because of anything the Big Ten or the SEC is going to do (yet), but because of what every other so-called major conference is going to do in a panic to stay viable, and to beat the other slug to the punch to continue to receive some sort of media check.

Yet, beginning with the Big Ten and the SEC, everything stops and everyone waits for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has used the ACC for the last how many years, yet has still greatly enhanced itself because of the ACC, because that’s just what Notre Dame does.

Neither the Big Ten nor the SEC are presently in a hurry to add another school until Notre Dame makes it known it’s either ready or not to join a new conference – all inclusive.

Notre Dame loves to waive its NBC Television contract under everybody’s nose to remind them why they remain an independent in football, yet loyal member of the ACC in everything else. That deal with NBC provides Notre Dame with $15 million a year. The television and streaming agreement the Big Ten is about to finalize, which will be shared equally by all conference-member schools, will exceed $1 billion.

Notre Dame has a pretty good math department …

We’ll have more on this as we see what develops, not to mention more thoughts on WVU and the ACC.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT