If power conferences split, what happens to Notre Dame and who else gets in?


With talk of a potential division one split once again heating up and becoming a more realistic possibility, the domino effect that would play out in college football could put the past few years of realignment to shame. If the big power conferences went off to play under their own set of rules, programs not wanting to be left behind would scramble to make sales pitches looking to entry in to any of the conferences willing to add one more member or two, or more.

So, where would Notre Dame fit in to that mix?

You can bet your next paycheck there would be little standing in the way of Notre Dame finding a way to be a part of the new structure and super division in college football. The Irish have long been owners of a seat at the big boy table regardless of conference non-affiliation. Notre Dame has figured out a way to get special access to the BCS bowls without conference affiliation, if they manage to meet a certain set of requirements available only to them, and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick remains one of the power names in collegiate athletics. More importantly, Notre Dame brings money with them wherever they go.

Notre Dame’s place in college sports took on a different look recently by abandoning the Big East and hooking up with the ACC for a unique membership that allows for football independence while providing conference affiliation for just about every other sport. Part of the agreement between the ACC and Notre Dame arranges for a handful of guaranteed games between the Irish and ACC opponents on a rotating basis, as well as ways for Notre Dame to get in on the ACC’s bowl tie-ins. The ACC would surely be a part of the upper tier in any division split, along with the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC, so the question would be what that would mean for Notre Dame’s status.

Could this division one split be the final hurdle standing in the way of Notre Dame and full-conference membership? It is far too early to tell, but that could become a realistic possibility depending on how the new structure is set up moving forward. This is all hypothetical at this point, of course, but if the power conferences split and formed their own division, it may be realistic to expect they work out a way to form their own postseason and split potential revenue between the conferences. Would they want to be splitting a share with Notre Dame, or would the ACC want to be sharing their share with the Irish? Put yourself in the shoes of the conferences. Would you want to do it?

Regardless of what would happen with Notre Dame, there would be plenty of schools looking to make a push for an invite to a power conference. For starters, would the American be included in any power shift? After losing Louisville (ACC in 2014) and Rutgers (Big Ten in 2014), the conference may lack the appeal to be in the same room as the top conferences. That could lead to AAC programs like Cincinnati or UCF trying to work their way in to another conference willing to take them on board. Perhaps even Houston. Remember, television markets are key ingredients in any realignment move. The power conferences likely have all of them accounted for at this point, but adding a little extra is rarely frowned upon.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.