I was just self-analyzing about Notre Dame's status as a school sponsoring all sports in an athletic conference except for football (a.k.a. non-football all-sports conference affiliation status). And I had this thought, why is it so "cool" for the Irish to be a football Independent? And only facing 5 of the other ACC schools as according to the contract when Notre Dame joined the ACC (which started this season)? Is it because of pride or selfishness? Look at Miami (Fla.) The Hurricanes were mostly Independent all of their time since they began their athletics until they joined their first conference affiliation as an all-sports school (a.k.a. the old Big East). Why won't Notre Dame just have a taste of conference affiliation status for football, along with the rest of their sports? Ok, it might take out certain rivalries as an Indy, but they can keep the top rivalries on their out-of-conference schedule like the one with Southern Cal (USC) and Michigan and Michigan State. It sucks for a D-I FBS school who's an all-sports member on one conference for most sports while having football either as an associate member on another conference or as an Independent.
I don't blame Notre Dame at all except instances whereby they could have misled as to their intentions. Not everything gets to be public. But I do point to all the enablers: The ACC (and the old BE), The BCS coop. group, the seat at the table with the Commissioners of Power Conference 5 (BIG, SEC, B12, PAC12, ACC again) and their play-off scheme, NBC, Bowl executives, individual universities (particularly Sou. Cal, Mich., Mich. State, Stanford, Purdue, Pitt., BC, etc.), pollsters, prominent advertisers, the interests of the school's control/power agents, referee contracting, sports reporters/journalists/media from print such as USA Today and sports commentators in TV, radio, as well as the Internet. They ride the popularity of the Irish to cultivate interest and profit. Even those that who do not like ND and see them as particularly favored, tune in to news about them and watch the Irish games, pulling for whatever opponents they are facing.
The only way to change the dynamics is for power conferences and schools to play hard ball about monetary distributions, scheduling, bowl agreements, and including their AD with their Commissioners' meetings. With the ACC giving ND a very respected home for bb and other olympic and women's sports, plus 5 assured rotaing games, finding a means by the 'system' to generate an incentive for the Irish to play conference fb looks even more difficult now. Even if ND's administrators and faculty see some value in playing conference fb and enhancing certain academic affiliations, their alumni, boosters, and student body have been long set against it.
There has been some recent statements, such as the SEC fb coaches taking a symbolic vote, expressing ND's needs to join a conference for fb. But that is a collection of unanimous opinion from a group that has no control of ND athletics, but could indicate a new stance that a particular conference is not in the mood to be as generous toward ND when all the powers that be gather to make decisions about future disbursements from the system.