Army's Athletic Director Kevin Anderson may have provided a clue as to whether Notre Dame will be forced to join an athletic conference in football.
Army director of athletics Kevin Anderson told the Middletown Times Herald-Record on Thursday that a 2013 game against Notre Dame, which had been penciled in at Yankee Stadium, has been canceled by the Irish.
Now Notre Dame cancelling a game with Army that's still three years out isn't exactly the strongest tell that the Irish will forgo independence and join the Big Ten. But according to SB Nation Chicago's Hilary Lee, an ESPN Insider article on the cancelled Army-Notre Dame game ...
... goes on to say that Notre Dame’s current list of regular rivalry games with USC, Navy, BC, Stanford, and Army would be untenable inside of a conference schedule. At the most the Irish would likely be able to play four out of conference games, so one of those would have to be cut if the Irish gave up on their independent status.
That's exactly the type of Irish scheduling that makes me think Notre Dame is setting their future schedule with conference membership, rather than continued independence, in mind. Lock up long-standing Irish rivals to long term deals (BC, USC, Navy, Stanford), move 3 games against current Big Ten members in-conference and break off your current arrangement with the Big East to play up to 3 games a year.
If the Irish were to join the Big Ten in a 16 team configuration, they may be able to negotiate playing a 7 game conference schedule to accommodate playing all 5 non-conference rivals. If the Irish were asked to play a full 8 game schedule, my guess is the Irish would play USC and Navy every year and rotate in BC, Army and Stanford.
Smoke without fire? Perhaps. But I still feel like Notre Dame's two actions this week - canceling their 2003 game against Army and renewing the Holy War with BC - could in fact be tells that Swarbrick may be warming up to the idea of jumping on the BTN gravy train.