I have recently read several articles written to predict the 2009 season. While most are grounded in pure guess work, I believe I have done some basic marginal research.
As a fan, you generally do not go to practices, see only a few games, and are limited in contact with the players. I am a fan, I watch the games on television and I go to them in person when I have the opportunity.
When you write about Notre Dame, you get extremely polarized views. There are people who love Notre Dame and then people who hate Notre Dame. There is almost no middle ground.
What people who hate Notre Dame say falls into three basic categories
- Special treatment from the BCS.
I will do what I can to show that these are fantasies derived by the "haters" to mollify their own pain over their own college teams. Then, hopefully people can actually write how much Notre Dame has improved without being attacked as living in the past or in denial.
This is by far the easiest schedule Notre Dame has had in years. Once powerful foes, Michigan & USC, are in major rebuilding modes.
The other teams on the schedule also have major issues with their programs. Despite this, I see no team on this schedule as pathetic as the cupcakes lined up in the Florida, Texas, and Penn State programs had last year and this year.
For years, people whined about the service academies being on the schedule. Well, Navy and Air Force actually went to bowl games.
The academies are actually Division 1 schools. You cannot say the same for most of the patsies lined up by most schools outside their conference.
You can argue all you want. I have shown people the records. People usually respond with, "Well they always play Navy." Apparently going to a bowl for several seasons in a row is not nearly as impressive as not ever going to a bowl game.
People say that Notre Dame gets favorable treatment by the referees. I would suggest, and have, that these people do not actually watch a Notre Dame game.
Last year, for example, it was almost impossible to commit a holding call while playing Notre Dame. If I remember correctly, only Pittsburgh and Syracuse managed to get those calls.
Each of those teams were called for holding once in the game. Notre Dame is usually called at least two to three times in each half of each game.
Why I am making this point is, because every college and pro team should get a holding call on every play. Watch any replay of any game and you will see glaring examples of what should be called a hold but, does not get called.
Now it is obvious that would slow the game down too much and cut back on those statistics which people love to analyse, but I feel it is fairly evident that referees are not looking at the players on equal footing. I keep missing the rules that say that Notre Dame is held to a higher standard than their opponents.
The special BCS deal is the easiest to deal with. The BCS wants to make money, and Notre Dame will bring in money.
That situation being "fair" or "just" is beyond the scope of any fans article. That would require research data which I do not have the time or means to accumulate.
Personally, I am indifferent if Notre Dame joins the Big East or the Big Ten or some other conference. I can see both sides of either going or staying independent. It does not really matter. Notre Dame will still be the best college football institution in the land.