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

·2 min read

The balance of power in college football – and perhaps the greater college sports landscape – might just hang in South Bend, IN. So says Paul Finebaum, who sees Notre Dame determining the arms race between college football’s two superpowers.

With the Big Ten recently adding UCLA and USC as part of their expansion, the conference may have caught up with the SEC in terms of relative strength. The SEC has long been the dominant conference of college sports and in particular college football.

But the addition of UCLA and in particular for football purposes, USC, is a massive boost for the Big Ten.

ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum told RutgersWire on Thursday morning that the Big Ten’s move is seismic. But with Notre Dame now potentially in the mix as an expansion candidate, the Big Ten might be able to pull away from the SEC as the powerhouse conference of college football.

Of course, the SEC and the ACC want Notre Dame too.


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Finebaum thinks where Notre Dame lands tilts the balance of power in college football:

“The recent move – plus the upcoming TV deal – puts the league firmly in the game – leaving everyone else in the dust,” Finebaum told RutgersWire on Thursday about the Big Ten’s expansion.

“This is now a Coke vs. Pepsi battle. Both survive and profit handsomely. But there can only be one No. 1. Where Notre Dame ends up – assuming it makes a move – could very well determine that.”

Notre Dame doesn’t bring a new media market to the Big Ten, given the overlap with the Indiana Hoosiers. But they bring a national fanbase as well as a storied football program, quality men’s and women’s basketball teams and a stable of Olympic sports that are consistently among the best in the nation.


Paul Finebaum on Big Ten, SEC expansion: 'two superpowers in a survival of the fittest contest'

Were Notre Dame to leave their independent status and join a conference, their presence would, in all likelihood, tip the balance of power in college football to the Big Ten. Finebaum isn’t wrong.

With the addition of USC in 2024, the Big Ten would hold six of the top ten programs historically in the history of college football:

Were Notre Dame to join USC in the Big Ten, the ramifications in college football would be huge from a revenue point of view for the Big Ten but also the product on the field.

For what it is worth,  two SEC powerhouses check-in pretty high in the poll with Alabama (second) and Oklahoma (third).