Let’s be clear: Notre Dame is not going to join the Big Ten. Well, probably not. Not unless something really crazy happens, or they think something really crazy might happen, in which case they’ll think about it. Otherwise, no way. Probably.
Just to be sure, though, a few ND fans plan to get their point across at next Saturday’s spring game with the classic spring protest shirt (front and back):
(By "literally," of course, they mean "figuratively.")
The Knute Rockne "Sinkhole" quote on the front stems from a possibly apocryphal story dating to 1926, when Notre Dame actually wanted to join the Big Ten. According to Murray Sperber’s 1993 book "Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football," as part of his bid for membership, Rockne accepted Big Ten commissioner Major Griffith’s officiating choices without bargaining when the Irish played conference opponents. That arrangement led to a confrontation between Rockne and a Michigan grad who doled out 95 yards in penalties against Notre Dame in its 6-0 win at Northwestern, to zero yards against the Wildcats. It also led to an "exaggerated" newspaper story on the run-in and a subsequent letter from Griffiths to Rockne inquiring about the incident. "The only thing" Rockne told the official, according to his reply: "It looks to me like a Big Ten suckhole."
Michigan coach Fielding Yost, already an antagonist to Rockne and opposed to Catholic membership in the conference, used the story — along with accusations that the Irish played academically ineligible players and committed other various infractions — to line up votes against ND’s entry later that year.
Irish fans were opposed to joining the conference 85 years ago, too, sending in letters that arguing that independence would maintain the university’s Catholic identity and burgeoning national appeal. And while they’d certainly agree with the shirt’s sentiments, they could never tolerate its filthy language. Some things never change.
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Hat tip: The Sporting Blog