On Notre Dame

This may come to a surprise to some of you, but I’m not a huge Notre Dame fan.  This season, each time I publicly picked against them, I was likened to an ISIS sympathizer, which just added fuel to my fire.  Let’s recap 2018: The Irish finished their season undefeated, didn’t play in a conference championship, and made it into the playoffs.  This is the BEST thing that can happen to Notre Dame – I’ll tell you why in a minute.

There are a few things about Notre Dame that annoy 99% of college football fans:

First, they aren’t special – not like they think they are.  The historical ‘lore’ of Notre Dame may have mattered back then, but today it doesn’t carry the same weight.  Does Rudy really matter anymore?  No more than Lou Holtz (who was an absolute national treasure on ESPN).  To the vast majority of us, Notre Dame represents rotary telephones, letter cardigan sweaters, glee club, and National Championships over Army.  We are WAY past that.  College football operates in a world of ‘what have you done for me lately’, so all the past championships/etc don’t matter to anyone but their fanbase.

Second, they don’t play in a conference.  The whole ‘independent’ thing was cute when the coaches and AP voters determined rankings and eventually the National Championship, but again, we’ve moved past that.  The conference championship games have become a pre-playoff qualifier, and Notre Dame isn’t included.  How the ACC allowed Notre Dame to be a part of their conference WITHOUT football is a travesty.  Notre Dame got exactly what they wanted: they get to avoid a conference championship game vs. a Clemson, FSU, or Virginia Tech team that will undoubtedly be ranked in the top 10.  I’m sure there are contractual issues with their ridiculous NBC TV contract, but whatever.  The ACC should have never taken the bait.

Third, and the most recent icing on the cake: the Irish got into the playoffs.  Why did Notre Dame get into the playoffs?  Simple: they are undefeated.  And they are a national brand.  And they are not in the SEC (the committee seems adamant to avoid having two teams from the same conference).  I strongly believe that Notre Dame is in the playoff strictly to round out the national appeal of the playoffs, and they had the undefeated angle is the perfect excuse to get them in.  By no means are the four ‘most deserving’ teams included – good luck arguing that, Irish faithful – look at the Vegas lines of all scenarios (vs. UGA or Ohio State).

Fear not, rational college football fans: there is a HUGE silver lining to including Notre Dame in the playoffs. We ALL get to see what they’re really made of, and how they stack up against the best of the best.  This game against Clemson is going to be program defining for the Fighting Irish.  Here’s why:  Remember the 2012 National Championship?  Two minutes into the game, it was OVER.  Notre Dame was completely outmatched, to no one’s surprise.  We weren’t through our first beer before we were looking for the remote.  With 12 minutes left in the first quarter, I was highly anticipating the halftime banter between Mark May and Lou Holtz, but it was clear that ESPN had thrown cold water on both of them.  My guess is the brass were in a state of panic because the ratings were going to tank.  The game was so bad that it took Notre Dame five years to recover.

Fast forward to 2018.  Pundits love to argue that Notre Dame is back.  But as of publication, Clemson is a two touchdown favorite in their playoff game.  OK, so let’s play this out: If Notre Dame gets throttled by Clemson in the same vein as the 2012 NC, how can anyone ever take this version of the Irish seriously?   They will become Central Florida v2.  Think about what a 49-10 loss on a national stage would do to the Irish?  They are scheduled to play Clemson who has an NFL caliber defense and an arsenal of offensive weapons – neither of which the Irish have seen all year.

My prediction is that a crushing loss sets the Irish program back at least five years.  This will fast forward the argument for a 6 or 8 team playoff, mainly as an attempt to protect the network’s financial interest by nodding to the national brands (Notre Dame, Texas, USC) that are all on hard times.  Irish football will be forced to join the ACC, removing the conference championship argument.  Brian Kelly will remain though the transition, but as recruiting starts to taper off, he’ll be shown the door…enter dirtbag Urban Meyer, fresh off his second ‘break’.  Perfect.

At that point, the playing field is level, which is all 99% of college football fans want.

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  • J.T. Lancer12/21/2018 - 6:56 AM

    Sounds like someone is still having a tough time getting over that fake punt on 4th and 11ReplyCancel

    • JRS12/21/2018 - 1:36 PM

      That was a couple weeks ago.  The Notre Dame issue has been going on since record players were all the rage.ReplyCancel

  • HLL12/21/2018 - 7:15 AM

    Side note that is bothering me – how college players sit out for bowl games to prepare for the draft. NO ONE knows their draft stock – take Baker last year ( I like Baker) but no one thought he would be #1. My LSU Tigers have majority of defense starters now sitting out the bowl game – now the awful UCF team will self claim another National Championship IF they win. You cant sit out of a college final just because you have a good grade and say well I am due to graduate…I may as well not take any exams to prove myself, or like all these millennials just assume they are worth or deserve more. Its football – PLAY and stop whining about it. ReplyCancel

    • Fritz12/21/2018 - 10:05 AM

      Great points all around, but the Jaylon Smith example is the strongest evidence against this.  Guy lost millions and almost the ability to walk thanks to the Fiesta Bowl.  In a world where college athletes don’t get paid (not taking any sides on that note), and all earning is reserved for the pros, playing in a bowl game is a material risk.ReplyCancel

    • JRS12/21/2018 - 1:39 PM

      Sitting out is a b!tch move.  Football is a team game.  If I were the coach, I would kick them off the team immediately.ReplyCancel

  • MRS12/21/2018 - 7:53 AM

    None of this is wrong.  ReplyCancel

  • Chris W12/21/2018 - 8:16 AM

    HAHA. So you’re arguing that Ohio State should be in over Notre Dame? Clearly a 2 loss UGA team doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs.ReplyCancel

    • HLL12/21/2018 - 10:41 AM

      SOS:Notre Dame – 61Ohio State – 55Georgia – 11Central Florida – 83All Notre Dame did was win against bad opponents ( Michigan was decent SOS 28). Georgia plays quality year in year out. Lack of Conference play/Championship should be taken in to consideration more or add a deeper playoff system. Its just the thing that has to happen. So yes in a sense a 2 loss Georgia has been credentials than Notre Dame considering games/stats/SOS/everything over a not-so-competitive ND who just plays a mediocre schedule and scathes by winless. If every SEC team played that same schedule as ND all would be undefeated and if ND played 1 SEC schedule they would have 4-6 losses ReplyCancel

      • Chris W12/21/2018 - 10:57 AM

        Ohio State should be in over UGA if we are taking Championship into consideration. UGA can finish #3 and complain that they were the best team. ReplyCancel

        • JRS12/21/2018 - 1:42 PM

          @Chris W – I would be fine with that, and I think OSU vs. Clemson would be a much better game.ReplyCancel

    • JRS12/21/2018 - 1:41 PM

      According to Vegas, Ohio State, Oklahoma and UGA should be in over Notre Dame.ReplyCancel

  • Andy12/21/2018 - 9:30 AM

    This was poetic. ReplyCancel

  • JEB12/21/2018 - 9:49 AM

    I hate Notre Dame as much as anyone. To me they are the Duke of college football, but without the (recent) championships to at least give them a grudging respect of their team’s accomplishments. However I don’t think you can leave them out of the playoff this year, regardless of what Vegas says. That’s why you play the game, and they deserve their shot. However I agree that this game may (hopefully) expose them for what they are, and if so, should be difficult for them to make their case in the future. ReplyCancel

  • Fritz12/21/2018 - 10:07 AM

    That 2012 game was hilarious.  On the first drive Bama was getting 8-12 yards per rush and the O-line was pushing around the Teo and his cohorts like rag dolls.  The make-believe girlfriend was the cherry on top.ReplyCancel

    • Trip12/21/2018 - 10:27 AM

      I still remembering sitting at my office desk reading the Manti Te’o article on Deadspin with my jaw on the floor. It was an incredible day.ReplyCancel

      • Fritz12/21/2018 - 11:22 AM

        If I recall correctly, the person texting/calling as Te’os gf ended up being a dude….ReplyCancel

  • FUNK MEISTER12/21/2018 - 10:28 AM

    I’m more interested in why this blog sucks up to Clemson so much. That NFL defense gave up 600 yards to Sakerlina. This game might be closer than you think.ReplyCancel

  • Ted12/21/2018 - 10:39 AM

    You know what the Zen Master asked, “U mad bro?”ReplyCancel

  • Seamus12/21/2018 - 1:22 PM

    Here is the irony.  Until last’s year’s debacle of a National Championship game, the same criticisms were aimed at UGA–to wit, “UGA is a faded power; they have not played in a national championship game since Jimmy Carter was President.”    We shall see how things unfold for Notre Dame.  But you must give them props–it is an elite academic institution with a massive resources ($13 billion+ endowment–probably more than all the SEC combined ex-A&M) and a loyal alumni base well represented in the corridors of power–Wall Street, Media, etc.  Their treatment is precisely a reflection of that power.  If UGA, or anyone else, had that kind of juice and institutional wealth, they would not hesitate to flex it.  Let’s face it, in college football, there is Saban/’Bama, and then everyone else,  Period.  Having said that, Go Dawgs!!!ReplyCancel

    • JRS12/21/2018 - 1:46 PM

      I 100% agree with everything you wrote.  We are in total agreement – it is a feat that they compete at the level they do with the academic restrictions they have.  My argument is that Notre Dame should be treated like any other program – they aren’t special, even if they do have a big NBC contract.  As with all sports: prove it on the field.  Play a legitimate schedule.  Play in a conference championship.  ReplyCancel

      • Seamus12/21/2018 - 1:52 PM

        Roger that.  I, too, am annoyed that the ACC capitulated on football.  That was pathetic.  Happy Holidays to you and the family.ReplyCancel

      • AJC12/21/2018 - 3:29 PM

        This might be the most Mad Online blog post of all time, and I love it. That Notre Dame could elicit such hate from a lifestyle blogger is a testament to their gravitas. Also funny how UGA fans were bragging about their narrow win over ND last year to bolster their playoff cred, and now one year later the Irish are all-time fraudulent pretenders? Lol ok.
        Now I don’t normally get hooked like this but I’m bored at the ER waiting room so allow me to address two of the most tired anti-ND talking points: 
        “Play a legitimate schedule”: Nearly every year, Notre Dame plays USC, Stanford, Michigan, and one of Florida State, Clemson, or VT, plus a couple more Big 10 or ACC schools who are legitimate upset threats. Very few programs would sign up for a schedule like that year in and year out. ND’s schedule is usually as tough or tougher than any conference schedule, and in a normal year their 2018 schedule would be suicide. The only real threat this year turned out to be Michigan, so I’m willing to entertain the argument that ND’s schedule *this year* was too soft to justify a playoff berth. I don’t buy that, btw – but it’s a respectable opinion. However, it’s totally unserious to suggest ND intentionally plays a cupcake schedule; not least of all because it doesn’t benefit them when they’ve only got 12 data points available to make their case to the committee. They know not playing a conference championship is a risk, and they manage that risk by scheduling tough. So, enough.
        “Play in a conference championship”: But why? No one can give a serious answer to that question. Independence is critical to the identity of ND’s program. It always has been. Notre Dame has been playing football for 130 years and they haven’t been in a conference for one of them… and they should change this, why? To placate the crybabies who want special treatment because they play in a conference with one legitimate opponent they can’t beat? Please. I love how everyone pretends like ND is pulling some kind of scam by simply doing the same thing they’ve always done. Plus, conference championships are nothing but a 13th game, and in almost any year Notre Dame’s 12 is a bigger challenge than another school’s 13 – see my point above.
        I could go on but that’s enough for now, I think I’ve made my case. Keep the hate coming, and Go Irish.ReplyCancel

        • whiskeydent12/22/2018 - 10:04 PM

          You’re gilding the lily a bit about your schedule. Ball St. was hardly an upset threat. Vandy and Wake  Forest are not football powerhouses. Syracuse popped up and did well this year, but they weren’t any good when you scheduled them way back when and they probably won’t be again for a while. But it’s the 13th game statement that’s kinda galling. Y’all have never played a conference championship game, so you have no idea how that extra game can pile up injuries and simply wear out a team. You’re like the eunuchs guarding the harem who think they know how it’s done simply because they’ve watched somebody else do it. There are times when traditions become anachronisms, and it’s certainly time for y’all to ditch the independence or give up on being in the playoff. Play by the same rules as everyone else. Period.ReplyCancel

        • BWX12/26/2018 - 4:48 PM

          Bit of a leap to draw a straight line between hate and gravitas.  Notre Dame hasn’t won a National Championship in 30 years, best you have a seat.  Your strongest argument is that ND’s schedule was inarguably more difficult a course than was Clemson’s.  A better call by the line judge and a mediocre Texas A&M would have put them out of the conversation before the season got started.  Further, claiming that playing USC and Stanford speaks to your SoS will only elicit eye rolls from anyone East of the CA state line.  The Pac-12 is a dumpster fire and USC hasn’t been relevant in a decade with any of their 4 head coaches.  Stanford is nothing more than an early season AP poll show pony.  Michigan? Win a rivalry game then we will all begin think something real could be possible there. ND does not belong in the Playoff, OU will will put a period on that statement.  Schedule aside people don’t like Domers for their Ivy League little brother chip on their shoulder.  Same thing that makes Duke and Michigan alum equally insufferable. What they will never understand is if you have to remind people constantly where you went to school, it does’t matter.  I hope that the ER reference in your chest out rant was because you were there getting a gerbil extricated from your anus and not because you are a medical doctor.  If you are a doctor, just the mere mention is the straight line to the hate you are looking for with no gravitas. ReplyCancel

  • Michael12/21/2018 - 5:38 PM

    Man! I love your blog, agree on most clothing/accessories choices, and think you have a great family. BUT dirt bag? Urban Meyer has got to be one of the best college coaches of all time, and  I believe that all college coaches will have an assistant whose job is to protect the program from the very troubles that beset Ohio State this year. It is asking way too much to expect anyone to fulfill the football duties and police his assistant coaches personal lives. Alabama is looking into hiring a retired FBI man for that very job. You are right on point regarding the Fighting Irish.ReplyCancel

  • Dave12/21/2018 - 10:22 PM

    You lost all credibility when you said Clemson has an NFL caliber defense. Every NFL team would drop 60+ points on them.ReplyCancel

  • GLP12/22/2018 - 11:03 PM

    11 to 2, 1988 vs 1980
    Not sure I need to say more but here goes. Notre Dame, by FPI and Sagarin measures, has the 2nd toughest SOS of any team in the playoff (and that’s without a conference championship game). 
    If the conference championship is a qualifier, then losing it shouldn’t get you a bid. Can’t argue that both ways.
    Rankings are a self-fulfilling prophecy. One conference starts with a bunch of teams ranked, of course it’s going to look like they’re better when they’re playing each other. There’s too little intra-conference competition to accurately determine which is best. No conference should ever have 2 teams in a 4 team playoff. ReplyCancel

  • Jeffrey Griffin12/24/2018 - 9:08 AM

    Another side note: currently each team gets 85 scholarships. What do you think about reducing the number of scholarships for each team to increase parity? Might make it more fun across the board. ReplyCancel

  • McStan12/24/2018 - 9:12 PM

    Hi. Presbyterian here. Could one of you bishop polishers kindly point me to a priest in Athens to whom I might offer confession next September 22, for the impure things the Dawgs did to the Domers on September 21?   Thaaaaaanks. ReplyCancel

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