By Josh Kramer
When people think of College Football, Notre Dame instantly comes to mind. Despite not winning a national title since 1988, Notre Dame is still one of the blue bloods of College Football. Every one of their games are nationally televised by NBC putting them in the public spotlight each and every Saturday.
The Fighting Irish are set to enter the third year of the Brian Kelly era. Kelly was supposed to be the man to bring Notre Dame football back to the glory days. He was the guy that was supposed to bring number 12 to South Bend (National Championship). Luckily for the Irish faithful, Kelly has a history of getting the job done in year number three. At Grand Valley State he went a very respectable 6-2-2. Then at Central Michigan, he took home a MAC Championship. And finally at Cincinnati, he led the Bearcats to their first Big East Football Championship and an appearance in the Orange Bowl. With a past like that, it is safe to say that Brian Kelly knows a little something about winning. Many have proclaimed the guy a miracle worker. I like to think of him as one of the best offensive minds in football. But it appears recent history will be against the Fighting Irish Head Coach as he prepares his troops for the annual Blue-Gold Game on Saturday. Could their be a year three jinx in South Bend? The three Fighting Irish coaches that preceded Brian Kelly may have something to say in regards to the potential South Bend curse in year number three.
Bob Davie went 5 and 7 during his third season running the show in South Bend. This followed a year in which the Fighting Irish had gone 9 and 3. Then Tyrone Willingham in year number three posted a less than stellar 6 and 6 record resulting in his firing. Finally, Charlie Weis, the immediate predecessor to Brian Kelly, nearly gave Lou Holtz a heart-attack when he went an abysmal 3 and 9 during his third season at Notre Dame. BK and the Notre Dame faithful are praying that he can reverse this recent trend.
This season may be the tallest task of Brian Kelly’s coaching career though. Notre Dame has to take on the likes of USC, Oklahoma, and Michigan State on the road (USC and Oklahoma are likely top five teams this year). Plus, the QB situation as it currently stands is a mess. Though Kelly has shown poise in the past with wild quarterback scenarios (Cincinnati 2008). People were calling for BCS in year two of the Brian Kelly era. It didn’t happen due to a case of the turnovers. Unfortunately for Brian Kelly, Notre Dame is similar to the New York Yankees when it comes to collegiate football. Expectations only get greater.
Though I cannot fathom Brian Kelly going 500 or worse no matter the schedule, the question is not whether the Fighting Irish will make a BCS Bowl this season. The real question is whether Brian Kelly will survive the third year jinx and be on the South Bend sidelines for year number four.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.
“Notre Dame is still one of the blue bloods of College Football.”
I’m not sure that is a true statement anymore. Granted, they have their own contract to televise their home games, but that won’t last after this current contract if they keep going 7-5 or worse.
Look at it this way. When all the the conference re-aligning was happening, why didn’t anybody make a realistic offer to Notre Dame? Because they aren’t that valuable of an addition anymore. When is the last time Notre Dame score a recruiting class that actually mattered? There is an entire generation of college-age players who have no idea what it is like to have Notre Dame as a major figure in the college football world, and that isn’t likely to change soon.
You make some valid points. But Notre Dame plays on national television every week. No conferences went at them because they knew they couldn’t get them. Not only does Notre Dame have a sick television deal, they also have a great deal with the BCS. Why change their national schedule in which they are guaranteed a BCS Bowl Game with ten or more wins?
Also, they have had some solid recruiting classes the past couple of years. I will admit that they are not in the same class though as FSU, Florida, or Alabama’s recruiting classes.
Granted, ND does have the sick TV deal and has it sweet with the BCS, but both of those deals have a shelf life…they won’t last forever in the current configuration. This means somebody from a conference looking to expand would have made a realistic pitch to them rather than expanding with a bunch of C-USA cast-offs (think I might be referring to the Big East?)
Problem #1 – Everybody of any note gets tons of TV exposure now. In this era of cable/satellite, You can see anybody of note every week as well. When the last time you couldn’t see an Ohio State game somewhere on basic cable if not a network? This means the value of ND’s deal with NBC gets watered down with each passing year that the number of homes with basic cable increases.
Problem #2 – ND’s “ten win” scenario almost means nothing since they make sure to schedule cupcakes out side of their usual three Big Ten games (two of which usually are not very good), service academies, and whatever other mediocre college football program they can schedule. Not only do these games artificially inflate ND in rankings, but they don’t draw that much TV interest. Which game would you be more likely to watch in September: ND vs. Purdue or Tennessee vs. Florida?
Problem #3 – Let’s talk about the real reasons ND doesn’t want to join a conference. First of all, the leadership at ND still falsely believes they are as you said a “college football blue blood.” They still believe they can get a Texas-type deal in their next contract negotiations, and they are going to get a rude wake-up call in a few years when they discover that isn’t going to happen. Don’t forget NBC Sports signed up with ND football when it literally had nothing else. Don’t forget NBC Sports has been pumping money into long-term contracts with other entities like the Olympics and the NHL in order to build it’s own sports network. The simple math says NBC won’t be offering ND big money again. And when they don’t, who else will? ESPN and ABC won’t, they already have wall-to-wall college football, and with better ratings draws than ND. CBS already has the SEC, and FOX has it’s fall Saturdays booked until November with baseball.
Then there’s the second reason…ND views the conference option as a “no-win.” In order to remain competitive in the short term, they would have to join a weak conference like the Big East or C-USA, because ND in a league like the Big Ten or SEC means they are instantly no better than a six-win team.
Lastly, there’s the real “turd in the punchbowl.” Notre Dame wanted to join the Big Ten in the 1920’s, and all the Big Ten university presidents got together at the time and told them “sorry, no Catholics.” That has been burned into ND’s organizational memory for close to 90 years now, and they aren’t likely to forget it soon.
The real trouble is that if they really want to be a “blue blood” again, they need to get over all that, get into the recruiting classes of the likes you mentioned, and schedule better quality opposition than South Florida and Army.
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