Friday, November 5, 2010

Notre Dame, A Program In Decline

THE PAST: In the last decade, the Notre Dame football program has fallen off of a cliff. It’s had losing seasons in 2001, 2003, and 2007. It’s had .500 seasons in 2004 and 2009. Other than getting spanked in a couple BCS bowl games mid-decade, the program has not been relevant nationally. Notre Dame has been impotent against its rivals: Notre Dame has lost three of the last four meetings with Navy. Notre Dame has lost ten of the last fourteen meetings with the Spartans. The Irish have only won one of their last five meetings with the Wolverines. Boston College won six straight against the Irish from 2001 through 2008. USC has beaten the Irish the past eight meetings for the Jeweled Shillelagh. The Irish would be winless in bowl games between January 1, 1994 and the present if it wasn’t for Notre Dame beating up on an inferior 7-6 Hawaii team in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl.

Notre Dame, year-in and year-out, recruits some of the best talent. From 2002 through 2010, Notre Dame has consistently recruited top talent. Over the last nine years, Notre Dame has averaged a #15 class. Three of those nine years, the Irish have landed Top 5 classes: #5-2003, #5-2006, #2-2008. With blue chip recruits coming to your school every year, why are the Fighting Irish losing to the one-star talent of the Naval Academy?

THE PRESENT: Notre Dame decides to practice outside during a sixty mph wind storm. Why not use your indoor practice facility in these types of conditions? You can’t even kick or pass in that kind of turbulence. They send a student videographer up fifty feet in a scissor lift in one of the windiest days the Midwest has seen in the last decade, only to have him fall to his death.

Now fast forward to the October 30th football game against Tulsa. With 2nd and 8 on the Tulsa 19, the Irish pass for the end zone and get intercepted. All the Irish had to do was hit a 36-yard field goal to win the game. One thing the Irish do have going for them is an excellent kicker, David Ruffer, who is 13/13 on field goals. This was poor play calling.

THE FUTURE: With a 4-5 record, the Irish will most likely be left out of the postseason. Their remaining games are: Utah at home, Army at home, and USC on the road. Notre Dame could very well finish the season 4-8. Utah is currently 8-0, Army is a much-improved program under second-year Rich Ellerson, and the Trojans always get up for a game against the Irish. Notre Dame won’t reach a bowl, so it must regroup and start thinking about how it can win games next year.
For 2011, Notre Dame has the nation’s #7 class, although that is bound to fluctuate between now and signing day. There will be no excuse for losing next year as the program’s best recruiting class of the past decade (#2-2003) will be in their senior year. Brian Kelly is a good coach, but he needs to get his head out of his ass if he doesn’t want to be the fourth consecutive head coach fired from Notre Dame. Notre Dame fans need to get their heads out of their asses and stop living in 1988. Being an independent with a storied history doesn’t entitle you to anything in the current landscape of college football.

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