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Why Notre Dame hockey move might be B1G

Could the affiliate membership in the Big Ten open all Notre Dame sports moving into the conference in the future?

Could the affiliate membership in the Big Ten open all Notre Dame sports moving into the conference in the future?

Perhaps the conference switch for Notre Dame Hockey flew a bit under the radar, but it might turn out to be significant in the not too distance future.

Notre Dame will move from Hockey East to the Big Ten as an affiliate member starting in 2017-18. The Big Ten opened up the option for programs to become affiliate members last year when they accepted lacrosse power Johns Hopkins, which was previously independent for their entire history. Hockey seemed like the most logical sport for the Big Ten to open up for affiliate members since considering it only had six schools sponsoring hockey previously.

Notre Dame was at the center of the previously realignment madness just a few years ago. They were a part of the Big East before it’s collapse and split. The Big Ten wanted Notre Dame to join their conference full time, but the school wanted to keep their football program independent. The Big Ten wanted Notre Dame football, so the Fighting Irish ended up joining the ACC full time for all of their programs other than football, which remains independent.

Notre Dame has made it clear they want to keep their football team independent, but the landscape of college football does not reward independent teams.

Notre Dame has made it clear they want to keep their football team independent, but the landscape of college football does not reward independent teams.

Located in South Bend, Indiana, Notre Dame is right in Big Ten country and their University fits the mold of other Big Ten institutions perfectly. It makes way more sense for them to be in the Big Ten than the ACC, which is based in the east coast. It’s only two hours away from the Big Ten headquarters in Park Ridge, IL.

But we are in an era where location doesn’t seem to matter and it is all about dollars. We’re in an era of college athletics where a program from Omaha, Nebraska is in the Big East. A team from Columbia, Missouri is in the SEC. The Pac-12 offered has a team from Boulder, Colorado and offered invitations to a bunch of teams in Texas. The Big 12 has only 10 teams and the Big Ten has 14 teams in it.

We are in an era where money, primarily drawn from football, runs everything. And TV contracts are leading to moves.

Notre Dame his a long history of not being in a conference in football and previously avoided connections with the Big Ten as much as possible because the Big Ten was not willing to add everything except the big ticket item.

This might be the first step to Notre Dame eventually joining the Big Ten full time. The affiliate membership works perfectly for both parties, but things don’t change that much. The Big Ten still wants Notre Dame to join in full time and Notre Dame wants to keep their football independent.

The problem is for Notre Dame, that college football’s current set up will not reward them for being independent. Navy ended a long tradition of being an independent when they joined the American Athletic Conference in football, and they nearly went to a major bowl game when they were never going to be considered for on before. Notre Dame will have no problem making a selected bowl game if they have a good season, but unless they are undefeated, the odds of them being picked as one of those four playoff teams is very slim.

Already there are issues that one of the five power conference champions are being left out. If Notre Dame gets in that means two conference champions will have to be left out. It’s not happening unless Notre Dame has a far superior season.

Before Notre Dame lost to Stanford in their regular season finale, they were only ranked sixth in the country. Even if they won, they would have had to sit down to a week while other teams could pad their resumes with victories over other highly-ranked teams in conference championship games.

It’s not a set up that is going to work out for Notre Dame and while the Fighting Irish brass might want to stick with tradition, the tradition is no longer what is best for Notre Dame. Sooner or later, they will realize that and join a conference. Whether that’s the Big Ten or not is yet to be scene, but ths connection with hockey might open the door to it.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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