Why the Big 12 Should Offer Temporary Membership to Notre Dame, BYU

Chris Dukes

If we've learned anything over the last 48 hours, it's that the college football landscape is going to look different in 2020 than it has in any other season. 

First we got a Wednesday announcement from the Ivy League that it would not participate in organized sports until at least Jan. 1 of 2021. That was followed at least two outlets reporting that the Big Ten would play a league-only schedule this season. 

While we don't know all the details on whether this means a truncated slate for its conference members or a full round-robin in which all 14 of its teams meet on the gridiron, we do know the latter decision could set off a chain of events the Big 12 in a bit of a lurch. 

You see the Big 12 is the only Power Five conference in the country with just 10 members, four less than the ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12. 

If all five of the major conferences in the FBS make the decision to play only league games, we could see a situation where the Big 12 has as many as four fewer games on the books than its competitors in the College Football playoff. 

One solution would be to possibly keep the current Group of Five schools on the schedule and hunt down a couple of extra games to replace the contests slated against Power Five teams, but there's a more exciting solution potentially on the table - and it actually makes sense for all parties involved. 

The Big 12 should offer temporary membership to both Notre Dame and BYU. As independents, both programs are even more affected by a potential conference-only football season. They would offer two more quality opponents (and in the case of Notre Dame at least a couple of games of mammoth national interest) to each team's schedule. 

Imagine a Big 12 Championship game between Texas and Notre Dame. Or the Longhorns going into Provo to avenge the 41-7 drubbing that occurred at the hands of the Cougars back in 2014.  

Of course, there is revenue to consider. The Big 12 has made it abundantly clear they don't want to split their pot of money more than 10 ways over the years. However, both Notre Dame and BYU would come in with their own broadcast TV deals. There could be a solution as simple as allowing the home team the broadcast rights for the games. 

I am certainly no expert on the financial side of things, but it seems like some temporary bridges could be built to benefit all parties involved should college football head in this direction. After the year is over and we all hopefully make COVID-19 a distant memory everyone can go their separate ways. Then again, if it works, maybe it could be the start of a beautiful friendship. 

Comments (7)
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Notre Dame
Notre Dame

As a NOTRE DAME guy, I love this idea.
Its only for a year, and it gives the IRISH exposure in Big 12 Territory, as well as asserts Notre Dames independence. Basketball and other sports in the ACC, Big 10 in Hockey, and a year in the Big 12? Fantastic.
The Big 12 will enjoy great tv ratings and sold out stadiums (if covid possible).
Also, a nice "Audition" for BYU in perhaps joining the Big 12.


Notre Dame is not even a possibility for the Big 12. The most recent extension with the ACC covers ND joining a conference. They would be contractually obligated to join the ACC until 2035. While things can be negotiated with likely a nice huge payment settlement, I am finding it highly unlikely.

Swofford said if the Irish choose to join a conference in football, they would be contractually obligated to join the ACC.

Burnt O
Burnt O

Good points. Culturally both schools fit well and BYU seems to always have very entertaining games. Would love to see this!


The Big 12 should have done this invite years ago.

BYU needs 5 games this year so it will make sense. And BYU will bring fans.

ND will be taken care of by the ACC.


If the Big 12 adds BYU, with the 3rd largest stadium and the biggest fan base in the conference, they'll look back at it this January as having been one good, season-saving decision.

2 Replies


Says the BYU fan.....

The Big XII looked at BYU 3 times. Passed, all three times. The last time was on the recommendation of the Big XII media partners, when looking to expand or not, stating that "no team, moves the needle". And that included BYU.

The thought of BYU saving the Big XII, is a narrative only found in Provo, Utah.


and if you read the article, the proposal was for one season to fill out the schedule and BYU doesn't participate in the Big12 TV deal, they stay on their own TV deal with ESPN.

iirc correctly one issue in the past about any team joining the Big12 was that the network didn't want to pony up any more $$ and the universities didn't want to carve up their pie into smaller pieces to make room for more teams.

As for the narrative being "only found in Provo, UT" malarkey, take a look at the byline on this article, it's SI-LonghornsCountry. Last time I checked that's not Provo.