Just Join The Big Ten Already, Notre Dame

Tuesday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I’m pretty sure that old Charles Dickens didn’t pen those words with Notre Dame in mind, but here in the waning days of 2012, he certainly could have.

That’s because, on one hand, the Fighting Irish are flying as high as ever with a No. 1 ranking and a chance to win their first national championship in a quarter century when they face Alabama on Jan. 7 in the BCS Championship Game. But on the other hand, the future of Notre Dame’s athletic programs – despite the football team’s current success – has never been less stable, or clear.

On Monday, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick acknowledged that the implosion of the Big East has left the Irish in an oh-so-precarious position. Notre Dame announced in September that its sports teams – except for the fiercely independent football program – are leaving the Big East for the ACC but that the school is contractually obligated to play in the league for two more years.

However, with the Big East’s seven Catholic basketball schools declaring last week that they’re departing the conference, the Big East may not exist at all by next fall. And, as a result, Notre Dame could be without a conference in which to play basketball and other sports next season.

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