Maybe the irrelevance of the team shouldn’t bother me. Maybe their recent struggles shouldn’t impact my personal judgment of the program. Maybe the name should still scare me. Maybe they should still be a measuring stick. I mean, they have won “11” national championships (that number is debatable), have had 7 Heisman trophy winners and were a dominate force for about 80 years. Yeah they got history, tradition, pride and everything a major program could want. So maybe, I should give them more justice. The respective AP writers seem to, so why shouldn’t I?
Quick history lesson before I go on another tangent. Notre Dame for the past 15 years has been nothing short of irrelevant in terms of the BCS picture. Since 1995, they have gone to 6 BCS bowl games, no national championships games but acceptable by any means. It’s their results that are troublesome. In 6 games, they have gone 0-6, with 5 of them being blowouts. Now a Notre Dame supporter might say, “at least we got there”. And yeah this is true, but it’s the means by how you got there that is a bit concerning these days. Notre Dame, for whatever reason still unknown to me, is still an independent team meaning they have no allegiance to a conference. Maybe it’s that nice NBC deal they got going for them but anyways, their schedule always seems to have Army, Navy, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and other teams that let’s be honest, could never match up to the powerhouse of Notre Dame. Yeah they would play Texas, USC and other big name schools but every season they were guaranteed to win at least 8 games. So they got to these big name BCS bowls by beating up on a majority of smaller teams, if you can dispute that, please fill me in. What we have been seeing increasingly is Notre Dame losing to smaller, less proud, less majestic teams. Zero and six in big time games in the past 15 years; multiple losing seasons. Expect this from Notre Dame? No, but that’s the reality, as again they are off to a 1-3 start beating only a team that is severely challenged on both sides of the ball, Purdue.
Now on to the fun part. If I could call every AP writer responsible for the top 25 poll, I would because I feel they still think of Notre Dame as they were 25 years ago. My beef is not with where they place them in the polls (obviously cause they aren’t anywhere close), but more with the high rewards they seemingly give teams for plummeting Notre Dame.
Let’s examine; Week 2 of the 2010 college football season. Michigan and Notre Dame are both coming off wins to open play up, and Michigan’s Denard Robinson was becoming the talk of the nation. Fittingly and predictably, Michigan beats out Notre Dame with the legs and arm of Michigan’s all-world quarterback. Here’s to you Mr. Robinson! It was close, but that’s merely because both defenses are anywhere from awful to mediocre at best. They got a serious problem on the defensive line, and it isn’t because their offensive line is so tremendous. After the game, Michigan, went from unranked (they were however, probably right on the brink of being ranked) to number 20 in the nation. They jumped at least 1/5th of the way into the poll by beating Notre Dame? Are you kidding me? They probably would deserve to be in the poll after that, but who did they beat to warrant a top 20 ranking? Nobody, that’s who; a number 20 ranking is a little high for my taste.
Fast forward 2 weeks into the future and we come to Week 4, where again predictably, Notre Dame was manhandled by Stanford. Stanford came into the game at #16. They left the game at #9. From number 16 to top ten, because they beat Notre Dame? Shame on you writers. It’s nothing against Stanford, I like the way they play. I heard Coach Harbarugh’s motto was, “We’re going to win with character but we’re also going to win with cruelty.” Now that’s badass. If they play like they did against real teams (sorry ND fans, you don’t qualify, again), then they are deserving of a top 10 ranking. But to excessively reward them for beating Notre Dame is inappropriate.
Notre Dame is not good. They haven’t been good for a while. While maybe college football is better when they are good, we have to stop pretending they are. I love the BCS, I think it does a wonderful job; the voters usually get it right. But this is wrong. Notre Dame is not elite, they are not a powerhouse. So let’s stop treating them like one. Teams like Michigan and Stanford showed nothing out of the ordinary in their wins. But it was made out to be something of the sort by their shot up the top 25 poll. To define the current state of Notre Dame I will leave you with this, “They know how to lose”.
***Note: I would love to hear feedback both positive and negative. Feel free to criticize, I don’t take things personally. Also feel free to leave your own ideas and thoughts. Thanks for reading.