Thursday, January 04, 2007

Notre Dame – In over their heads, and lovin’ every minute of it

Anyone who turned into last night’s Sugar Bowl massacre for even 2 minutes heard the stat – Notre Dame, loser of eight consecutive bowl games, was in danger of becoming the first team ever to lose nine.

Well, the first team they are indeed – and done with such style.

(Not to digress, but speaking of “style” – USC almost made the BCS title game on the supposed “style points” of beating Notre Dame 44-24 at USC. If that was stylish, LSU purple is the “in color” for spring).

Let us recap this sad milestone –

1994 Fiesta Bowl loss to Colorado 41-24
1995 Orange Bowl loss to FSU 31-26
1997 Independence Bowl loss to LSU 27-9
1998 Gator Bowl loss to Georgia Tech 35-28
2000 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oregon State 41-9
2002 Gator Bowl loss NC State 28-6
2004 Insight Bowl loss to Oregon State 38-21
2005 Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State 34-20
2006 Sugar Bowl loss to LSU 41-14

So, we have losses across the conference board, to the Big 12, the Big 10, to the SEC (2 times), the ACC (3 times), and twice to Oregon State of the Pac 10.

Total score in losses: 316-157

Notre Dame is clearly in over its head when it comes to bowl games – and, I submit, they are lovin’ every minute of it.

Certainly they don’t love the losses, as those are hard on the players and fans.

But the juicy dollars and big time exposure – you bet ya!

Let’s just put it this way - no other school gets remotely the breaks Notre Dame gets when it comes to bowl game arrangements.

Everyone knows well the sweetheart deal Notre Dame has with the BCS. To recap, paragraph 4 of the BCS Selection Policies and Procedures

4. Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings.

But this year Notre Dame is 11th in the BCS, you ask?

Silly you – Notre Dame always finds a way. It is not your imagination, they really are better than you are.

Refering back to the Procedures –

At-Large Teams

If there are fewer than 10 automatic qualifiers, then the bowls will select at-large participants to fill the remaining berths. At at-large team is any Division I-A team that is bowl-eligible and meets the following requirements:

A. Has won at least nine regular-season games, and
B. Is among the top 14 teams in the final BCS Standings.

And with that Notre Dame was in.

This year, the ten BCS game slots went to (with BCS ranking)-

Ohio State 1
Florida 2
Michigan 3
LSU 4
USC 5
Louisville 6
Boise State 8
Oklahoma 10
Notre Dame 11
Wake Forest 14

OSU, UF, USC, Louisville, Oklahoma and Wake Forest all got in by virtue of winning their conferences. Boise got in under the “mid-major” conference winner clause of the BCS. So, the remaining three are considered “at-large”, 3rd ranked Michigan, 4th ranked LSU and 11th ranked Notre Dame.

To get to Notre Dame, the bowl selection committees had to pass on -

7th Wisconsin
9th Auburn

Now, I am aware there is a clause that no more than 2 teams from a conference can play in the BCS. It is a stupid rule. Either Auburn or Wisconsin would have given LSU a better game (we know this for a fact in Auburn).

When we go back and examine the match-ups in Notre Dame’s now record 9 losses, we find example after example of mismatches. The following is Notre Dame’s and their bowl opponent’s pre-bowl records in each year of the losing streak -

1994 ND 6-4-1 Colorado 10-1
1995 ND 9-2 FSU 9-2
1997 ND 7-6 LSU 8-3
1998 ND 9-2 Ga Tech 9-2
2000 ND 9-2 Oregon St 10-1
2002 ND 10-2 NC State 10-2
2004 ND 6-6 Oregon St 7-5
2005 ND 9-2 Ohio St 9-2

Not one single time did Notre Dame have a superior record to that of their opponent. Notre Dame, which plays a traditionally soft schedule, is consistently being matched against opponents with better records against better teams.

You will also note, from the above, that the years the Irish had similar records to their opponents actually turned out to be the most competitive games - 1995 and 1998, in which they lost by 5 and 7 points, respectively.

But I don’t think the Notre Dame athletic administrators care very much about competitive games. With BCS bowls currently paying from $14-$17 million, and with the priceless exposure of playing in prime time bowl games, they have shown they are more than willing to send their overmatched teams to defeat time and time again.

This, from a school that was once too “proud” to even play in bowl games, citing concerns for the welfare of their student athletes. Now, they treat the same student athletes as so much cannon-fodder for TV exposure and big time revenues.

It is not that the glory is just gone from Notre Dame - it is that which remains that makes a mockery of all that is past.

2 comments:

Senator Blutarsky said...

Well said.

The only difference between Notre Dame going to a BCS game and, say, Western Carolina traveling to Georgia or Florida is the size of the paycheck...

Henry Gomez said...

Bluto,

I agree but there's another difference: nobody expects or hypes those games to be competitive.