The decision by UCLA and USC to join the Big 10 Conference, starting in 2024, produced the expected shock waves across the college athletic domain.
The Pac-12 was naturally staggering, while the Big 12 was trying to absorb its impact as it planned life without Oklahoma and Texas.
But what about the Atlantic Coast Conference, which now must take a look at itself and decide what it wants to be?
And what if the Big Ten wants to go after the main prize available in Notre Dame?
And, that revives an ongoing question, what about the Irish, an active and productive member of the ACC in most sports—other than football.
Two years ago, the Irish dipped their toes into conference football waters by playing a full 8-game league schedule.
They did great winning the regular season title before losing a rematch with Clemson in the ACC title game.
Even with that loss, the Irish received an at-large slot in the CFP playoffs and made a lot of money, receiving a full ACC share (more than 30 million dollars).
But ND officials made it clear that was a ONE time move. The Irish would maintain a quasi-relationship with the ACC in football, playing five conference opponents a year, while receiving a slot in the ACC bowl rotation.
Even with two super conferences, public posture is that as long as there is an expanded (12 teams?) playoff format, ND will take its chances as an independent.
The ACC can not let the Irish slide on this one.
Time to call in some markers and give ND two choices.
Become the 15th conference member in football or increase their annual games with ACC teams from 5 to 6.
If ND says no to that, the ACC must then tell the Irish that it no longer wants its other sports, which in truth, will not be a deal breaker for the ACC.
Whether the conference can throw ND out of the league contractually is another issue.
Faced with that ultimatum, ND might indeed blink.
The Irish can act haughty about football, but they need a home for their other sports or the whole system collapses.
The one escape hatch ND does have is the Big Ten, which could offer the Irish one last chance to become part of the most natural fitting academic and geographical conference choice for ND.
But ND must approach the Big Ten.
If that happens, the Big Ten will be the leader of its domain, stretching from coast to coast.
Adding four Pac-12 schools and ND would make 19 schools, with probably one spot open for a Super Big 20 version.
So make one move into the South and grab say, North Carolina and you have your package.
Ridiculous, you say?
If a year ago, what odds would you have given me if I told you that Texas and Oklahoma were going to join the SEC and USC and UCLA were going to join the Big Ten?