Notre Dame has always held that place in college football lore as the team you love or you hate. Many other schools can claim similar admiration/scorn followings, but Notre Dame always seems to be the epitome of this.
Everyone in South Bend loves the team and they do not accept that the college football world doesn’t revolve around the team, despite its lack of national relevance for almost 20 years. The rest of the living world can’t stand the teams independent status, exclusive TV contract, and lofty sense of entitlement. But did the team bring this upon itself over the past five years?
Until the mid 2000’s, Notre Dame had genuinely great personalities and players. People that even the most ardent ND hater had to begrudgingly respect. Ty Willingham garnered high opinion everywhere except South Bend and Brady Quinn and Arnaz Battle played their hearts out and worked hard for their wins.
But in 2005, the perception of the program began to change as the team hired an over-hyped, under-experienced head in Charlie Weis. Weis’s “smartest guy in the room” mentality rubbed almost all college football fans the wrong way as he genuinely seemed to disrespect any reporter who dared to question his coaching and embrace a Belichek-ian stranglehold on the program, despite not having any previous success on his own.
Then in 2007, the program made a big splash by recruiting and landing Jimmy Clausen out of Thousand Oaks, CA, the highest ranked QB in the incoming class. Clausen made his announcement in the most pompous way possible in arriving to the College Football Hall of Fame in a limo and said he planned on winning multiple National Championships.
During the next three years, the program remained in a state of constant flux, resulting in more downs than ups, yet the fan base defended their flawed heroes who continually thumbed their nose at the rest of college football on and off the field. All the while, complaining about their national perception despite continually losing to almost every team outside of the service academies.
The Charlie Weis years were not kind to the Irish, yet ND fans still embraced and defended him to the rest of the college football space. And despite Jimmy Clausen becoming a very competent QB at ND, his constant whining on the field during a loss, and childish taunting after a win never sat well with fans either.
So now that the draft is coming up, and ND fans are complaining that the media and fans always have an agenda against ND. But in the end, after embracing such polarizing personalities, do they have the right to claim that the rest of game doesn’t like them?