Texas A&M to the SEC. Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. These are only the latest conference re-alignments in the college football landscape. The growth of the Pac 12 to the PAc 16 has been put on hold for now, staving off extinction of the Big 12. However, there is movement afoot to combine into a handful of super conferences, which could then combine into an uber-conference with the weight of everything collapsing the country in on itself and forming a black hole. All kidding aside, one of the interesting factors in all of this is Notre Dame and its status as a football independence. The possibility of them joining a conference has been brought up before, but given the current climate, let’s look at the pros and cons of such a move.

– The first obvious advantage is the marked increase in revenue the Irish would bring in by joining a conference, especially one that has a lucrative TV contract, such as the Big Ten with the ACC or Big East being discussed as other potential destinations.

– Joining a conference would also make it easier for the Irish to have postseason success. Also, it would make it easier to qualify in the first place. As it is now, anything that is less then a BCS bowl bid is seen as a failure in the eyes of the Irish faithful. Winning a conference or even a division within one could be used as a barometer of success. No more setting the bar too high, although that seems to be commonplace for ND football.

– If Notre Dame decides to join a conference, then they would avoid the possibility of being the only independent as teams scramble to join or to join other conferences. Being left alone on an island while everyone rakes in money from conference TV deals could further devalue the brand that its bad showings on the field have done in past years.

– It is only football that is independent as all other sports are in the Big East. Joining a single conference would allow for every ND sports to be under one single banner. This would make scheduling and travel easier since it would all be streamlined. On a side note, it seems non-football sports are taking a back seat to this conference discussion. However, they are still an important part of the Notre Dame athletic tradition.

– Joining a conference would fly in the face of decades of tradition and harm the Notre Dame football brand. A vast majority of the mystique and luster of the program is due to their status as an independent. They are able to stand apart from other teams on a high pedestal of sorts. This is also perhaps a reason why there is so much anti-ND sentiment.

– Going together with the last point, joing a conference would make Notre Dame just another team and would lose alot of the luster from their status as an independent. They would get lost in the shuffle and being mediocre in a conference versus being mediocre as an independent is a less desirable outcome.

– Remaining an independent would allow the football team to remain apart from all the rampant speculation. The viabilty of the purported super conferences is far from known and could turn out to be a disaster. Not jumping on the bandwagon so to speak would allow ND to avoid that headace.

– Notre Dame football already make alot of money as they have a TV deal with NBC and payouts for making it to a BCS bowl and even one if they don’t reach the BCS. So money wouldn’t be a major factor in joining a conference.

As can be seen, alot of these pros and cons are intertwined and a single issue can be both a pro and con to Irish football joining a conference. Either way this is a contentious issue that has floated around Notre Dame football for some time, but the recent spat of re-alignment has pushed it back to the forefront. It would be better for the Irish to wait and see how these latest conference changes turn out before making a decision. Getting rashly caught up in the re-alignment craze could backfire on Notre Dame.