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Notre Dame to Big Ten could be a reality 

Brian Kelly Mark Dantonio

Brian Kelly, Mark Dantonio

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Updated: May 9, 2012 9:48AM

The tectonic plates beneath the college football landscape are shifting, and that could increase the likelihood of Notre Dame joining the Big Ten in the future.

Big East Conference members Pittsburgh and Syracuse were accepted into the Atlantic Coast Conference, and that could affect Notre Dame basketball and other sports. With other significant changes to major conferences expected, joining the Big Ten might make more sense now than it did a decade ago, especially if Texas is involved.

Imagine a Big Ten “Western” division that includes Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, ­Illinois and Northwestern and an “Eastern” division with Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Indiana. Such a scenario would maintain many of the Big Ten’s geographic rivalries and allow Notre Dame to continue to play traditional foes such as USC and Navy.

“I know personally as the head coach, you’re always listening to what’s going on out there,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “How it affects our day-to-day operation is none. It doesn’t affect what we do. Nothing is going to be decided during this season.

“But we’re listening to it. I know our athletic director, obviously this is a big time in college football, and he’s actively involved in it. I hear about it, but I’m focused on my team.”

Kelly said there are advantages to remaining independent and joining a conference.

“Football independence at Notre Dame, it’s schedule and recruiting,” Kelly said of the advantages. “Those are the two things. You can put together a schedule that gets you from the East Coast to the West Coast. Then recruiting, it allows you to have that large sampling. You’re not marginalized geographically in your recruiting. On the other side, you’re not playing for a conference championship.

“There’s pluses and minuses. I like the pluses that we have as an independent right now. Like anything else, I’ve said this a number of times, we’ll keep our ear to the ground.”

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