Stewart Mandel outdoes himself.

I’d actually stopped reading Stewart Mandel’s column because he was doing nothing but writing irritating drivel. And it was a good move.

But today, I got sucked in by his “Open Letter to Notre Dame and the Big Ten”. I should have known better. It’s his proposal that the conference extend an invite for Notre Dame to join and that the Irish should accept. In Stew’s world, that’s a “win-win”.

In the real world, that’s a fantasy. Does Mandel really, truly think that the Big Ten hasn’t put feelers out to Notre Dame on a recurring basis to join the conference? Of course Jim Delany would grab Notre Dame for the Big Ten in a New York second – as long as it didn’t cost him any money.

And therein lies the rub.

Even Mandel admits that the Irish have a sweet deal:

I realize you’ve got your NBC money ($9 million a year through 2010), your BCS money ($4.5 million for each appearance, plus $1 million annually), even your own provision for BCS qualification (guaranteed with a top-eight finish), so obviously the independent thing’s not hurting your bank ledger.

But since their schedule sucks, ’cause the Irish play too many tough teams at the beginning of the season, they ought to throw all of those benefits away so they can have the chance to match the likes of Purdue’s starting schedule of Toledo, Eastern Illinois and Central Michigan. No kidding – he really thinks that’s an advantageous tradeoff for Notre Dame. And let’s face it: that’s all Notre Dame would get from the Big Ten, as the sweet TV contract and BCS deal would both go by the wayside five minutes after admission.

Mandel, they’re having a bad year. They may have another one next year. But take it in context – this is a school that’s lost nine bowl games in a row, yet still made back to back BCS appearances without a signature win over a top five team (and, of course, without a conference championship). Do you really think that could ever happen if Notre Dame became a proud member of the Big Ten? Of course not.

With reasoning like that, it’s a good thing that Mandel writes for a living. If he ran a business thinking like that… well, he wouldn’t be doing it for very long.

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