Notre Dame has been in and out of the expansion rumor mill ever since the Big Ten announced back in December that they may be looking to enlarge their conference.
Publicly, athletic director Jack Swarbrick has, for the most part, maintained the stance that the Irish preference above all else is to remain a football independent, provided the school’s hands are not forced by seismic shifts in the landscapes of the major BcS conferences — i.e. the Big Ten doesn’t treat the Big East like .
Wednesday evening in South Bend, new Irish head coach Brian Kelly took Swarbrick’s message and ratcheted up the rhetoric a notch or eight. Kelly, speaking in front of approximately 300 pro-ND people, Kelly left no doubt which side of the expansion aisle he resides on.
“From my standpoint, being the head football coach at Notre Dame, there’s nothing better than being an independent football school,” Kelly said in remarks that the South Bend Tribune said elicited a roar from the crowd.
“I know you’re hearing all these rumors about the Big Ten and all these other things, but let me tell you one thing, the history … the tradition of Notre Dame football is steeped in that independence.”
Of course, Kelly, Swarbrick et al can be as forceful and publicly vociferous as they want in very loudly and proudly championing the Irish maintaining their football independence, but it will have little impact on what the rumor mill will spit out over the next few weeks/months.