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Berry Tramel: How Notre Dame could help out the Big 12

Conference realignment: Getting the Irish to agree to full membership in all sports but football, and a potential scheduling alliance on the gridiron, could save Conference Chaos.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 25, 2011

As Sooner fans navigate the five stages of grief, somewhere between denial and anger, we offer a chance to jump the track.

Remember what took your minds off football during the good times of last week? Use it as pain reliever in the bad times.

Conference realignment.

Various reports during a wild Big 12 Tuesday revealed West Virginia in, Missouri out and Notre Dame at least willing to listen to some kind of hybrid relationship with Conference Chaos.

Feel better? Well, I didn't think so. Nothing soothes a home loss to Texas Tech, just as nothing in Stillwater could detract from the euphoria of a No. 3 BCS ranking.

But Notre Dame to the Big 12? Full membership in all sports but football, and a potential scheduling alliance on the gridiron? That would at least lift the Big 12's status from desperate to quirky.

Heck, the Big 12 might even be able to add Brigham Young as a football-only member to counter Notre Dame. Sure, such a mongrel conference would be squirrelly. But the Big 12 is long past the point of worrying about appearances.

I don't know if a Big 12/Notre Dame agreement could happen. But I do know Big 12 officials have dangled that possibility to South Bend since summer 2010, when Nebraska left the league.

And now, with the Big East teetering, Notre Dame has to get serious about where its athletic teams will land. The Big Ten and the ACC have been adamant that Notre Dame has to be all in to be any in. For now, the Irish want to maintain a semblance of football independence.

The Big 12 could be the solution, so long as the Big 12 goes in with the right attitude. Goes in with the knowledge that this common-law relationship never would result in a wedding.

Better conferences than the Big 12 have grown old and gray waiting on Notre Dame to walk the aisle. The Big Ten. The Big East, the current shack-up, has been waiting, too, much to the chagrin of Big East old-timers like Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who last week blasted the Notre Dame/Big East relationship, inferring it kept the Big East in limbo.

Notre Dame joined the Big East in 1995 for all sports but football. The Irish in football have played Pitt most years since '95; the Irish also regularly played Boston College when BC was in the Big East.

But Notre Dame didn't play Virginia Tech or Miami. Doesn't play Louisville or Cincinnati. Has played Rutgers, West Virginia and Syracuse thrice each during the Big East years; South Florida and UConn once each.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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