When it comes to Notre Dame, the reasons for fans' vitriol are plentiful. Some is generated by the media, some of the outrage is rooted in feelings of resentment—and then, of course, there are the Fighting Irish themselves. To make it clear, we're not talking about rivalry hatred. Teams like Michigan, USC, Stanford, Michigan State and Boston College are supposed to dislike the Irish.
No, we're talking about the overwhelming sentiment of disdain that Joe Fan, with no true reason, has for the Fighting Irish. If you work in the business long enough then you hear it all, and a lot of it starts with the media hype and the NBC deal.
The idea that Notre Dame, a team that has not won a major bowl in well over a decade, still is one of the nation's most valuable college football properties bothers people.
It irks teams that have legitimate storied pasts the same way it sticks in the craw of people whose teams have been recent successes. It eats at people that Notre Dame, as a true mega-commodity on the landscape, gets to pick and choose what it will and will not do—the sort of being in a conference while retaining its independence, the misunderstood "BCS Exemption" that makes folks mad.
What do you think is the main reason fans hate Notre Dame?
The Irish at 4-0 with wins over two ranked opponents and a suffocating defense? Doesn't matter. Folks will find a way to say they don't deserve it—even as teams around them sit with no wins over ranked opponents and less-than-impressive performances.
While a lot of the feelings folks have are generated by resentment, it must be noted that there have been ample times that the Irish don't do themselves any favors. There's a bit of a holier-than-thou attitude, where the Irish players and fans think they are better than others, merely by virtue of the blue and gold. They discuss college football history as if they invented the game and were the only ones to achieve greatness.
There is a lot that goes into the pot, and a lot of folks are not fans of the Irish. It isn't a geography-fueled hate or a rivalry-induced resentment—it's a Notre Dame-and-their-special-situation disdain, and it is very, very real.