Hello, college football fans!
I think most Big 10 fans are hoping for Notre Dame to join the Big 10. In an ideal world, they would join the Big 10, the Big 10 would have 12 and they'd all be happy. But of course Notre Dame has been reluctant to join.
One of the things Notre Dame has now is a good relationship with the Big East Conference. The Irish can play in the Big East in basketball and all other sports. In addition, they get access to the Big East's bowl deals (OK, they're not great but they're still something) and gets to keep all the cash rather than share with the other football members.
Pretty much the best way IMHO to get Notre Dame to join? Find a way to get rid of the Big East (at least in terms of football). What if there was no conference that Notre Dame could share bowl bids with? They'd either have to make a BCS bowl or stay home. And if you take the right schools from the Big East, they will be a lot weaker a conference in basketball and other sports making them less valuable for Notre Dame's other sports.
The reason the Big 10 invited Nebraska and not Missouri could have been because it seemed the conference let out that Nebraska was the team that would cause the Big 12 to fall apart. So the question is who is the Nebraska of the Big East? Maybe at least two teams are needed, maybe three.
There are three Big East schools in the AAU (Pitt, Syracuse, and Rutgers) and one additional top tier (according to US News & World Report) in Connecticut. The other four schools are Tier 3 or lower so I am assuming they are out. If the only way the Big East will fold is if all four teams leave, then the Big 10 has to take all four teams to get the Irish.
Assuming the Big 10 is saving one spot for Notre Dame and they won't go past 16, they have three open spots (they foolishly gave one to Nebraska already). Why waste one spot on Nebraska? Unless there is some miracle heart transplant in the next few days, the Big 12 is finished anyway. And is Nebraska going to encourage Notre Dame to join? Is Missouri? It's the Big East we got to target now, not the Big 12.
So we should do what the Pac-10 did, invite one member of the Big East and see what happens (of course you have to choose carefully which team). If Notre Dame accepts, then we can end it at 14 and have two fewer pieces of the pie to hand out. Who knows, maybe the Big 10 can start rumors and the Big East will accidentally spill out the member(s) they can't afford to lose like the Big 12 did.
My opinion: I think they should invite Pittsburgh first.
They are in the largest city of the four schools (Piscataway does not count). I also think breaking up the Backyard Brawl would help. It's very unlikely the Big 10 would take West Virginia but maybe if Pittsburgh goes to the Big 10, West Virginia has more incentive to look for the SEC or ACC. If Pitt is still in the Big East, West Virginia has more reason to stay.
Another thing to keep in mind, the Notre Dame/Pittsburgh rivalry. I would imagine the Irish might have more incentive to join the Big 10 if Pitt was in it than any of the other three schools were in it. I doubt we can do it but maybe invite Pittsburgh to the Big 10 with the condition that they can't play Notre Dame non conference in football anymore. Then again, I don't think the Big 10 can tell its current members not to play Notre Dame.
In addition, Pittsburgh is a long term member of the Big East. Can you imagine a Big East without them? Syracuse is also a long term member of the Big East. Rutgers joined the Big East over a decade later. UConn was a founding member but didn't join in football until recently. I would think the loss of Syracuse and Pitt would cause more alarm to the Big East's offices than Rutgers or UConn would. Maybe they need two or three to finish off the Big East but I would try Pitt first.
Don't forget about basketball. I would imagine if the Big 10 steals the stronger basketball members that would encourage Notre Dame basketball to leave the Big East. In a sense, Big East basketball may be more important to Notre Dame than Big East football. Why do they care how strong the Big East is in football? They don't play in the league.
So, the way to get Notre Dame? Through Pittsburgh and causing Big East football to fold. Or better yet, get Notre Dame on the phone and ask them which team they would want as a conference partner? I would imagine of the four Big East targets, my guess would be Pittsburgh would be the top of their list. After taking Pittsburgh, should Notre Dame still not want to join, then take two more Big East schools (any two of the other three).
If Notre Dame is the big fish, Pittsburgh is the bait. Or should I say Pitt is it!