The Southeastern Conference is adding Texas and Oklahoma in 2025. The B1G is adding USC and UCLA in 2024. The SEC and the B1G are battling to lock up the biggest brands in college football, and Notre Dame is the next target for the B1G. The B1G is currently in a holding pattern until Notre Dame makes a decision on joining a conference. The SEC should target Notre Dame as the next addition to their conference.
Part Time Membership Is An Option
The SEC is currently the strongest conference in the nation in college football, so they operate from a position of strength. Making concessions for Notre Dame to join the SEC isn’t a requirement, the SEC doesn’t need to beg anyone to join their conference. Notre Dame currently resides in the Atlantic Coast Conference as a non-football member, all Fighting Irish teams compete as a conference member except football. Football retains their independence but they are required to play five ACC teams annually in non-conference games. The B1G wants Notre Dame as a full conference member in all sports, but the SEC is in a position to offer Notre Dame partial membership in football.
Notre Dame has two annual rivals they play every season in USC and Navy, along with a more recent addition Stanford. For recruiting, the Irish alternate a home-and-home schedule with Stanford and USC so they play a game in California every year. As a part-time member of the SEC, Notre Dame can continue these rivalries and play SEC teams every year. If the SEC offers Notre Dame the option of playing five or six SEC teams a year but retaining their independence, it’s a good deal for both the Irish and the Southeastern Conference.
Television Networks And Fans Want Big Games
Alabama-Notre Dame, Georgia-Notre Dame, Texas A&M-Notre Dame, these are non-conference match-ups television networks and college football fans crave. Even Ole Miss-Notre Dame or Kentucky-Notre Dame draws massive interest, viewership, and fan excitement.
Notre Dame is not a regional match for the SEC, but regionalism is dead in this era of conference realignment. USC and UCLA are not regional partners with Ohio State or Michigan, but they’re going to the B1G in 2024. The future of college football is brands, the biggest names playing in the biggest games, and Notre Dame vs the SEC is a glimpse of that future.
Pursuing Notre Dame Makes Other SEC Goals A Reality
When Notre Dame joined the ACC in 2013, the move arguably saved the conference. In the 2010-2014 realignment era, several ACC members were targets for other conferences. Adding the Irish gave the ACC stability and a brand name opponent to mollify football schools like Florida State and Clemson. Removing Notre Dame from the ACC weakens the conference and allows the SEC to pursue their expansion goals.
Without Notre Dame, the ACC is ripe for poaching, and all schools are targets. If the SEC’s ultimate goal is a move to 20 teams, Virginia, North Carolina, Miami, Clemson, NC State, and Virginia Tech are all options. Removing Notre Dame makes the ACC vulnerable, and the SEC is in a position to exploit that vulnerability.
Full Time Membership with the SEC Has Its Privileges
Notre Dame as a conference member in the SEC is also attractive. Their fans are football fanatics. Every college football fan needs to visit The House That Rockne Built. Adding Notre Dame as a full-time member to the SEC makes that trip a reality for fans. Conference realignment is all about football, but the Irish are solid in other sports. Notre Dame went to the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball and advanced to the College World Series in baseball.
As a member of the SEC, Notre Dame has a clear path the College Football Playoff every year. The Irish make the Playoff in years they go undefeated in the regular season. In the SEC, the Irish only needs to win the conference championship, and they’re in the Playoff.
Moving to the SEC puts the Irish in the best conference in college football which will elevate their recruiting. The Irish are regularly dominated in Playoff games because they lack talented depth. As a conference member recruiting to the SEC, those issues will disappear.
Pursuit Of The Holy Grail
Notre Dame represents the Holy Grail in conference realignment, the holy relic everyone is after. In the SEC’s quest to remain dominant in college football, adding Notre Dame achieves their ultimate goal. The SEC should target Notre Dame in conference realignment because their addition puts all short-term and long-term goals within reach.
Related: Rico Flores commits to Notre Dame
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