Academic profile: Not a member of the Association of American Universities; Ranked 20th in the 2010 U.S. News and World Report National Universities rankings, best among prospective candidates and second to only Northwestern among current Big Ten schools.
Why it would fit: Geographically, Notre Dame fits in the middle of Big Ten country. It already competes against Big Ten schools in most sports, including football. Notre Dame has an unrivaled football tradition that would make it a perfect addition to the Big Ten. Notre Dame has a national audience that instantly would boost the league's profile, unlike any other candidate. Although it is not a member of the Association of American Universities, Notre Dame's undergraduate academic standards are top notch.
Why it wouldn't: Notre Dame rebuffed the Big Ten's invitation in 1999. Publicly, school officials have said they prefer to remain independent in football.
Final verdict: If Notre Dame wants in, it gets in. Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick said this spring he could see a scenario "forcing" the school's hand into football conference play. But if Notre Dame was forced, would it be a cooperative member? Swarbrick and other officials have backtracked on any external comments, but you can bet internally joining the Big Ten is discussed at great lengths.
YouTube moment:A collection of great moments in Notre Dame history.
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