Paul Finebaum: if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten or the SEC ‘it’s Armageddon in college football.’

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The college football world is waiting on Notre Dame in what is likely the biggest – and most important – domino to fall in the conference expansion free for all. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum said that Notre Dame’s decision to potentially join the Big Ten or the SEC will have repercussions throughout the sport.

On Monday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey spoke about his conference being in a position of strength. The SEC certainly has dominated the college football landscape for two decades, a position that was strengthened last year with Texas and Oklahoma set to join the conference juggernaut.

But the Big Ten pulled off a coup of their own, adding UCLA and USC last month. The Big Ten is now in the top four media markets in the country.

And the Big Ten, not to mention the SEC, would love to add Notre Dame. Given its history and success, Notre Dame makes sense for football, basketball, and the non-revenue sports in either conference.

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Paul Finebaum: Notre Dame can tip the balance between the Big Ten and the SEC

Their huge national following makes them extremely attractive to either the Big Ten or the SEC as well. Finebaum, an ESPN analyst and the most influential voice in college sports, said on Tuesday that he believes all future movement in college football and conference alignment rests in South Bend.

“If you choose to look down, it’s all about Notre Dame. Greg Sankey, what I think he’s saying is when Notre Dame decides what to do or what not to do, everyone will react,” Finebaum said.

“Should Notre Dame decide to join the Big Ten or the SEC, it’s Armageddon in college football. Sources around the sport say that they are pausing, they don’t have to make a decision yet. They have several years remaining on the NBC contract. But at some point, they’ll probably have to make a move unless they can mortgage a much higher fee. And if they don’t move, then you’ll probably see other things less important, like the ACC perhaps, looking west to try and find a way bail themselves out from a very inferior situation.”

Here is what Sankey said on Monday at the start of the SEC’s media days bout pending conference expansion:

“There’s no sense of urgency, no sense of panic. We’re not just shooting for a number, [we’re looking] for affiliations that make us better. Could they be out there? I would never say they’re not, I would never say that we will. We’re going to be evaluating the landscape. I’m not going to speculate. I actually am watching a lot of this activity operating around us, more so than impacting us directly.”