Why are there only two "legitimate" scenarios for Notre Dame?

The first is to remain independent and the second is to be the jewel in the Big Ten's expansion plans.

But what if there were a third option that satisfied the Irish's needs? The solution would be to join the Big East full time and in some small way maintain a level of independence.

Unquestionably the Big Ten offers greater financial rewards, but cash isn't the only concern for Notre Dame. While independence is the top priority, ND president the Rev. John I. Jenkins recently expressed in The Chronicle of Higher Education that the status quo may not cut it.

Father Jenkins said in the article, “It’s like musical chairs. You don’t want to be left standing when everybody else has a seat.”

Enter the Big East. UConn coach Randy Edsall recently said the conference should give Notre Dame an ultimatum to join or get out. So maybe he's got the same idea.

If Notre Dame were to join a Big East that remains eight teams (expecting to lose at least three -- Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse -- to the Big Ten) the Irish would maintain five non-conference games that could include the usual suspects (USC, Michigan, Navy, Boston College, etc.).

The addition of the Irish would give the Big East the needed clout to remain a BCS Conference and it would also have the leverage to convince Boston College to return. If commissioner John Marinatto is really being as proactive as he appears of late, he could also grab Navy, another independent, making the Big East even more appealing to ND.

Too crazy? Maybe. But this scenario allows Notre Dame to remain the big fish, even if the pond shrinks a little. It also let's the Irish play that coveted national schedule without giving up too much and getting the security of a conference.

Father Jenkins' major concern of joining the Big Ten? “I would worry that joining the Big Ten would regionalize us. If we were regionalized, we wouldn’t be playing in those areas.”

Not a problem in the Big East, Father.