A handful of Notre Dame players— Cierre Wood, for example—can’t comprehend where they attend college.
The Fighting Irish’s prestige is unparalleled. They built their reputation on a tradition of excellence. In recent history, though, some players have failed to live up to the school’s name by putting themselves before their team.
Matt Fortuna of ESPN reported that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly released a statement with the announcement of Wood and Justin Utupo’s discipline. He said:
Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences. Justin and Cierre violated our team rules so I've suspended them for the first two games of the season.
I hate to play devil’s advocate, but Kelly didn’t set high standards for the Fighting Irish program. The program’s sky-high expectations were set long before he took over the reins in South Bend.
They were set when Notre Dame received its own NBC television contract.
They were set when the football team was provided special BCS privileges.
Well, I guess technically they were set long before those two even occurred. After all, the Fighting Irish wouldn’t have earned those benefits without already boasting a juggernaut of superiority. But a TV deal and BCS favoritism only raised the bar even further.
You know your team has an identity crisis when not just a few scout-team scrubs, but players who are supposed to be leaders fall short of that bar.
Notre Dame will be without Wood and Tommy Rees against Navy in Week 1 of the 2012 college football season. That’s the starting quarterback and running back. That’s a joke.
Despite a lack of recent success, the Fighting Irish are still a premier program. Their ability to recruit the entire nation tells that story.
While the majority of Notre Dame’s players realize that they’re representing a team and an institution bigger than themselves, a select few are failing to do so. Those select few must look in the mirror and realize that they don’t play for Mississippi Valley State (no offense to Mississippi Valley State).
They play for Notre Freaking Dame. And a player that plays for Notre Freaking Dame should hold themselves to a higher standard, like the program at least attempts to do.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.