I echo most of your sentiments.
The BE has a schizo identity with the 8 NE Catholic schools, and then an association of FB schools (all public, I believe) strewn all over the country.
The TV contract for FB will be split among the FB schools only, the BB contract $ will be split about 18 (or so) ways.
The 2 collections of schools just don't seem to seem to have anything in common.
I'd like to see the football side morph into an all-sports group (maybe throw in Army / Navy for FB) and the BB schools could split at some point, and grab the
Dayton, Xavier, St. L, and Butler groupp from the A-10 (soon to be 16 ?).
If Notre Dame wants to preserve a schedule that includes Purdue, Michigan, and MSU, they necessarily HAVE to join the B1G (or stay independent).
In the ACC, they'd have 3 OOC games and would have no room for 3 B1G schools + USC + Stanford + Navy.
However the "new BCS" shakes out in June, may provide the impetus for Notre Dame to join a "Big 5" conference for all sports (including FB).
The Big Ten seems logical, who would they add as #14 ? (Missouri seems like the perfect fit, but for whatever reason the B1G seems to reject Mizzou).
Wouldn't mind seeing all of the big 5 stop at 14, however I hate the ACC zipper.
This all started when they expanded to 12, and the N-S line cut right throught the Tobacco Road foursome (UNC, NCSt., Wake, Duke).
2 more Northern teams could fix that. Alternatively, losing FSU and gaining one Northern team would allow for 14 with a nice N-S split.
Can't see any ACC teams gong anywhere. They have a very attractive financial deal, and a reasonable path to a Confernece Championship in football
(the competition isn't a brutal gauntlet like the SEC).
Here's the thing. We're rational people who want reasonable, rational answers: geography, similarity, symmetry, congruency. But there's only ONE overriding factor in all this: Money and the pursuit of it.
The Big East Catholic schools are going to stay tied to football. Because they recognize that the money is with the football schools.
The Big East football schools... they're going to soon grow tired of basketball, because the schools with the deepest roots to the Hoops-Only schools are leaving/have left: Boston College, West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse; UConn and Rutgers (want out).
I believe the A-10 has been proactive because their leadership has been expecting the Big East to split for 30 years now. Internally, schools compare their performance to their peer group. For most schools, that's their conference. Some schools, like Xavier, Dayton, Gonzaga, Memphis, Pacific, etc do NOT compare themselves to their conference. Dayton has always compared themselves to Xavier, Marquette, DePaul, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John' and Providence. I assume Xavier has as well. Pacific doesn't bother comparing themselves to the Big West, but to the WCC schools. Memphis surely hasn't compared themselves to Tulane, Rice and Marshall, but Cincinnati and Louisville. I'd fully expect that lots of these schools wind up with their peer groups, although for the Big East basketball-only schools, it won't be by choice.
What remains to be seen is how the New Big East, without Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia, fares in basketball. Really, the time for them to split was the last BCS contract. But the success of Georgetown, Nova, Marquette and Notre Dame in basketball made it difficult.
Notre Dame to the Big Ten makes financial sense, they might be the lone holdout in this world of pursuing the money because of the pride and the tradition (No AD/President want to be THE GUY who takes Notre Dame into a conference and then have Notre Dame go 5-7 in the Big Ten).
If Notre Dame joins the Big Ten, expect a Northeast corridor school (Rutgers or UConn) to be #14. Maybe UConn and Rutgers and maybe Syracuse or Kansas for 16.
With regard to divisional alignments and zipper formats... geography doesn't earn a dollar for the conference. You configure in the way that brings in the most money. North/South for the ACC doesn't do that. Balanced divisions with the football powers separated DOES bring in the most money, so that will continue.