College football realignment talk always usually manages to work its way to Notre Dame, and the reasons why the Irish would be a great fit for the Big Ten or whatever other conference.
"Never" is a long time, but it's safe to say Notre Dame will be an independent for a long time. Its relationship with NBC is so good, there's just no reason to change.
Notre Dame, now relevant on the college football scene again after last year's run to the BCS Championship Game, will be on NBC through the 2025 season, at least. The network announced a 10-year extension of the agreement. Notre Dame and NBC have been partners since 1991. All previous extensions were just five years.
The 10-year extension shows why being an independent makes sense for Notre Dame. The school gets good treatment from a network that, truth be told, has very few enticing sports programming options. No matter how good or bad Notre Dame is, it can count on being on NBC (or, as Ed Sherman reports, perhaps on NBC Sports Network for some non-marquee games when the extension starts in 2016) on Saturdays in the fall for at least another 13 seasons. Ask some struggling power-conference team how nice that arrangement would be when a television partner has it play an undesirable mid-week road game.
NBC said it averaged 4.4 million viewers for its Notre Dame games last year, as the Irish was compiling a 12-0 regular-season record and No. 1 ranking. The press release also points out that the NBC money has helped fund an undergraduate scholarship endowment, and "6,300 Notre Dame undergraduate students have received nearly $80 million in aid from revenue generated through the NBC contract" since 1991. The NBC contract has been widely reported to pay Notre Dame an estimated $15 million a year.
So if Notre Dame comes up again in football realignment talk, dismiss it. There's not much reason for the Irish to change. The NBC extension just makes it official.
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