The Bowl Championship Series, arranging only a No. 1 vs. No. 2 national title matchup each season? Leaving the bowl selection process to be dominated by programs offering legions of deep-pocketed fans and millions of eyeballs watching from home?
Where do Notre Dame and the Big Ten sign up, and can they do it yesterday?
An eyebrow-raising report Friday from ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski suggested this scenario is on the table: The BCS could sever ties with all bowls and simply be the entity or mechanism that produces a national championship game.
And that would set every conference free to make its own deal with any other bowl, presumably including the marquee games such as the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl.
Because bowls are just businesses -- spare us every fanciful, saccharin argument to the contrary -- the programs and conferences that can fuel-inject these businesses with ticket sales and television ratings stand to benefit the most.
Somewhere, Jim Delany and Jack Swarbrick just kicked up their loafers on a giant pile of money and breathed a satisfied sigh.
The benefit for Delany's Big Ten is unmistakable: It's a league teeming with brands, nationally recognizable names with passionate followings. Of course the Big Ten already has its list of bowl affiliates. But a freer market could spur more lucrative future agreements while facilitating the league's access to basically every bowl there is.
Three Big Ten teams in top-tier games? Four? The more tourists and couch potatoes, the better.
The same logic applies to Notre Dame, only with more abiding benefits. The pressure point of football independence is the program's access to the national championship mechanism; the scenario laid out in the Wojciechowski report seemingly preserves an equitable shot for the Irish and probably would do so for a multi-year window.
And Notre Dame would top any bowl's list of invitees annually. Few programs offer the kind of fanatical cash flow the Irish offer or inspire the love-'em or love-to-hate-'em passion the Irish stir up.
Swarbrick, the school's athletic director, could arrange for relatively easy-to-meet conditions -- like nine victories -- to guarantee, say, a Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl berth. And then work down from there. He won't have trouble finding dance partners.
That keeps the Irish healthy and prominent as a football independent -- not to mention the slowing of super-conference movement that would occur if the BCS insinuates itself only into the national title game, with automatic qualifying for top-level games disappearing.
The hypotheticals Wojciechowski sets forth are indeed that: hypotheticals. Inertia tends to rule in these matters, with goliath billion-dollar enterprises at rest generally staying that way.
Nevertheless, there's only one question Notre Dame and the Big Ten might ask: What's everyone waiting for?