Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Fat of the Land

Notre Dame lost it's ninth consecutive bowl game last night. They were blown out by LSU by the final score of 41-14. This is fairly indicative of their performance over the past 30 years. The average score of the last nine bowl games that Notre Dame has taken part in has been 35-17. The Irish are basically being doubled up on the scoreboard whenever they take the field in a bowl game. Their overall bowl record over the past three decades is a miserable 7-13.

Notre Dame has one national championship in the last 30 years. The same total as Colorado, BYU and Clemson. During that same period, Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn St., Florida St. and Miami have all won multiple championships. Miami alone won the championship 5 times over a 17 year span. So why are we forced to endure a non competitive Notre Dame team every year in a bowl game. And it's not just that they are just making it into bowl games, they are making it to major bowl games. Notre Dame has played in a New Year's Day bowl game or later in seven out of the last nine years. This seems to have become an annual rite of passage. Celebrate New Year's eve and then wake up and watch Notre Dame get destroyed.

Notre Dame supposedly plays one of the toughest schedules in the country. This year they played three teams that were in the top 20 at seasons end. They lost to them by an average score of 44-20. Notre Dame does their annual dance through the service academies (Army, Navy, Air Force) and then fills the schedule with division one teams that they think can be beaten. They don't even play their "Catholic" rival Boston College every year these days. Notre Dame has only one guaranteed tough game currently on their schedule and that is their annual showdown with USC. The Trojans are back to being a football power under Pete Carrol, and are currently on a four game winning streak in the series. However, Notre Dame regularly schedules the service academies before this game so that they can come into the game riding high in the polls and high in confidence. It hasn't helped them on the field lately, but it has helped them with the voters and has allowed them to squeeze into the BCS bowl games.

I find it almost laughable to watch Notre Dame climb the rankings every year as they roll over opponents with less than .500 records. They were actually ranked #2 in the country coming into this season. Apparently the voters thought that getting spanked in the Fiesta Bowl by Ohio St. in the last game of last season was good enough reason to make them #2 behind the Bukeyes. Notre Dame hasn't been the premier college football power since the 40's, yet somehow they still manage to hang on to that former glory. It would be like the NY Yankees being the only baseball team with a national television contract based on the fact that they had won six World Series championships in the 50's. Notre Dame finished the season ranked 11th and got into the BCS based on the fact that a BCS bowl can pick Notre Dame if they finish ranked in the top 12. Isn't it slightly suspicious that they just managed to make it? Notre Dame had gotten absolutely destroyed in the only two games that it played against ranked opponents during the season, and yet the voters still saw fit to make the BCS bowl eligible. It's amazing what money can do.

I would love to say that this latest embarrassing performance by the Irish will bring an end to this charade, but it won't. Notre Dame will be back on NBC next fall beating up on the service academies and other lesser lites. I would love to see how they would do if they were in the big ten and had to face Ohio St., Michigan, Penn St and Wisconsin every year. Or maybe the SEC and have to face the likes of Florida, Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Tennessee every year. Notre Dame, of course, would never join a conference because they are bigger than that. They are bigger than all of college football and they deserve to be given preferential treatment because they won a lot in the 20's, 30's and 40's. Enough is enough. It's time that college football took a harder look at their signature program. It's time to hold them to the same standard that all the other teams have to face. It's time to make Notre Dame earn it's place at the BCS table. We are seven years into a new century Notre Dame, it time to put up or shut up. It's long overdue.



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