Any change in ND's football status will be done in a gradual fashion and will be done with a lot of mirrors.
I do not disagree with you on this for the short term at least. My view is that any change in Notre Dame willingness to participate in conference football will be based on external factors. This would include matters such as the following:
* Trouble scheduling opponents (appears not a problem)
* Their NBC (or another) TV contract in the future is for a lot less money (appears not a problem)
* The BCS gets tough with Notre Dame over revenue distribution and access (only modest, appeasing moves so far)
* Powerhouses such as Michigan and Southern Cal drop scheduling Notre Dame (does not appear in the works anytime soon)
* Navy and Army join fb conferences leaving Notre Dame as a lone independent and more focus grows on the issue (Army and Navy seem committed, for now, to be independent)
* The Big East splits, and Notre Dame is destined to go with the bb onlies. (Split not eminent for a few years)
* The Big Ten decides to go to 12 and takes interest in someone other than Notre Dame (not active)
* The faculty reaffirm their desire to be a part of the Big Ten academic consortium (minor factor, but certainly helps within the institution)
* Notre Dame experiences a string of losing seasons in fb and their image further suffers.
* The administration of Notre Dame conducts a public relations campaign to sell the idea of joining a conference in fb (good luck with this one).
* Boston College wins a national fb championship and become dominant, Catholic private school ;D!
* The BE expands in fb and gets protective and influential in terms of their bowl arrangements.
It's going to be the system, which brought other former independents, such as Penn State, into the conference fold.