The Big East conference wouldn't hire Paul Tagliabue to reign in 3rd tier college football programs from C-USA to join a, yet again, "Big East" Conference.
I believe this is what's happening.
In 2003, the Big East Conference and Mike Tranghese were absolutely floored that the ACC raided the conference of 3 of its major powers in college football. I feel this had such an impact that the Big East Conference will absolutely refuse to go down without a fight.
My bet is that the ideas stemming from Paul Tagliabue, an unbelievably intelligent businessman, are proactive and aggressive as opposed to reactive and passive. He likely is asking questions such as "How does the Big East get Penn State and Notre Dame to join the conference? How can you expand your football footprint while maintaining the excellence of the basketball side of things (admittedly much less important)?
He probably is thinking of ways to lure Penn St and Notre Dame to the Big East conference and my guess is that the answer could be 4 letters....ESPN. The Worldwide Leader likely has a vested interest in maintaining college sports dominance in 2 regions: Northeast (where adding ND and PSU TOTALLY would change the game in football while maintaining the basketball dominance of the conference.....ESPN still looks at basketball as a vital package of their product line) & the Southeast (where population shifts have been evident since the late 80s and early 90s coupled w/ EASILY the most rabid area of the country for college football).
Would this require financial flexibility of the non-Penn St and ND members? Absolutely. There has to be significant bait for ND and Penn State to jump to the Big East and I'm not sure what the answer would be but I would guarantee it's possible. ND is going to need to be in a conference for football. It would be a logistical nightmare for every other sport to try and schedule. Penn State would jump back to the Big East if given a package that would rival the current deal w/ Big Ten (the 22 million figure has been said to be inaccurate for each school in Big Ten for TV so it wouldn't need to be that much).
The wildcard in all of this? Texas. If they join the Big Ten, forget about the above situation unfolding. However, if they remain in Big XII or more likely the PAC 16 then that TV package would likely be offered from FOX.
Probably just wishful thinking that ND and Penn St join the BE, however, I don't think it's unrealistic to believe that the conference heads are trying.
Big East Mega-Conference football: WVU, PITT, Cincinnati, USF, Louisville, Syracuse, UCONN, Rutgers, Notre Dame, Penn State, Maryland, Boston College, Central Florida, and 3 other "lesser" schools
Basketball will be a 20 team "Super Conference": 16 schools mentioned above and Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, and St Johns (Depaul, Seton Hall and Providence join the A-10).
Could it happen?