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Mergers and acquisitions

Adding Notre Dame would shake up the Big Ten

Posted: Tuesday July 26, 2005 12:20PM; Updated: Tuesday July 26, 2005 1:38PM
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Charlie Weis
If new head coach Charlie Weis can lead the Irish to at least an eighth-best BCS ranking, Notre Dame is guaranteed a big bowl game.
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Today's Mailbag word of the day is "merger." While it's most commonly used to describe massive business deals between competing conglomerates, usually involving lots of complicated financial terms this feeble mind couldn't possibly explain (I didn't fare so well in college econ), it also describes more simple alliances that are just a plain old good thing for everybody involved.

Take last Sunday night's episode of the increasingly brilliant show Entourage. A season that already has included memorable cameos from the likes of Ralph Macchio, Bob Saget and Pauly Shore introduced a new storyline involving none other than the divine, oft-mentioned-in-this-column Mandy Moore.

Though my girlfriend doesn't necessarily agree with my unusually elevated opinion of Ms. Moore, even she could concede that Sunday night's stunning new plot development -- that previously carefree leading man Vince once had his heart stomped by the irresistible Mandy, with whom he's supposed to co-star in an upcoming James Cameron blockbuster, and who is now engaged -- was a brilliant merger of a character's backstory with ... well, a gorgeous starlet. All that in the same 30-minute episode as a scene in which the unintentionally hilarious Drama asks Dr. Joyce Brothers an extremely personal question in the middle of a Malibu grocery store just so his buddies can steal the last box of Fruit Loops from her cart. Brilliant.

Nick from Cleveland has also proposed a "dream" merger of sorts, one that's far more relevant to this column than the previous two paragraphs. He writes:

Just for fun (because we know it is too greedy to join for now), let's say Notre Dame joined the Big Ten. How would you see the two divisions forming? My thoughts ...

North: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Notre Dame.

South: Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, Indiana Iowa and Purdue.

First of all, I don't know if it's greed that's driving the Irish's stubbornly held independence or na´vetÚ. As you may have read, the new BCS contract includes a stipulation that Notre Dame will be guaranteed a berth by finishing in the top eight of the standings and will pocket $1 million in revenue every season whether it reaches the BCS or not. With friendly provisions like that, why join a conference?

What you might not have read is thatáthe BCS eliminated Notre Dame's golden (pun intended) parachute, which allowed itáto keep the full $14.5 million payout other teams have to split with their conferences. If the Irish do reach a BCS bowl, they will receive the reduced $4.5 million share that conferences receive when they send a second team to the BCS.