The Death Of The Irish: The Empire Is Crumbling

Josh KleinCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2009

Known as the darling of NCAA football, Notre Dame is one of the most storied and admired programs in NCAA history. 

But when is it time to let go of the past? 

Yes, they are the third ranked program among wins in NCAA football history only behind Michigan and Texas, but with Rockne gone and Holtz sidelined, they have fallen into obscurity; and Weis doesn't look like the man that will pull them out. 

So can we please stop talking about Irish football?

This is a program that has been out of the national title picture for two decades now. If you calculate that, yes, its close twenty years; and we are supposed to just roll over and give them a pat on the back and say they are BCS material? 

If any team can claim history as a reason for even being mentioned in the same sentence as USC or Oklahoma (two very storied programs in their own right) in this day and age, it's the Fighting Irish; who have been fighting less and less these days. 

The problem with Notre Dame is that its so called storied history stopped when Lou Holtz stopped coaching them. Yes, I do know that historically speaking the Irish have more wins than all but two programs in the NCAA with 831 wins (833 now with a win over Nevada and Michigan St), but what about the last twenty years?

136 wins in twenty years?

That's only seven wins a year for such a storied program as Notre Dame.  And not only that, but in the last ten years, this is the Fighting Irish's record corresponding with that year's Strength of schedule:

1998 - 61st (Record 9-3)
1999 - 4th   (Record 5-7)
2000 - 22nd (Record 9-3)
2001 - 12th (Record 5-6)
2002 - 13th (Record 10-3)
2003 - 2nd  (Record 5-7)
2004 - 4th   (Record 6-6)
2005 - 44th (Record 9-3)
2006 - 25th (Record 10-3)
2007 - 12th (Record 3-9)
2008 - 66th (Record 7-6)
2009 - proj. 40th (2-1)

If Notre Dame were truly an elite program, wouldn't they thrive in the years that their strength of schedule was highest? And wouldn't they be able to get through the mediocre seasons unscathed? 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

This may look good at face value, but what you do not see is that during this time Notre Dame was 17-33 against teams in the top twenty-five. That is a 34 percent mark against teams in the top twenty-five. Not only that, but that means that 23 of those losses were against teams not even ranked in either the AP or Coaches poll.  This is a program that has excelled at mediocrity not for one, but for two decades and yet they still get all the face time on ESPN and Sportscenter for wins over Nevada and Hawaii? 

When is enough enough? 

Any other program gets a win against Hawaii in the who care's bowl and you only get the score at the bottom of the screen. Not some twenty minute monologue about how Irish football is back after a 7-6 season.

Call me a hater, call me whatever you want; but believe me, I understand mediocrity (Nebraska football 2002-present), but not to the extent of Notre Dame.

They haven't won a title since 1988; they haven't played in one since then either (no BCS title games); and from the looks of it, there isn't one coming soon either.

This is a team, that since the loss of Lou Holtz, has spun into the pit of mediocrity and cannot get out despite all of the help the media gives them. They couldn't even come close to winning in their BCS bowl appearances this decade. They lost in blow-outs totaling a combined score of 116-40

And yet, the BCS is still unwilling to let go of their darling who is the only team in BCS history to lose in every single one of their appearances. Seems pathetic if you ask me. Couple that with great recruiting classes that fail to develop time and time again and you have to ask yourself: "Is the wool being pulled over my eyes?"  In a word, yes; it is and the BCS is not helping the situation.

According to its (BCS) website, the BCS: "...is managed by the commissioners of the 11 NCAA Division I-A conferences , the director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame, and representatives of the bowl organizations." 

Why does Notre Dame's AD get to be in on the committee? 

Some say it's because they are an independent, but I don't see Navy's or Army's AD in the boardroom. Also, Notre Dame has a clause in the laws of BCS order (actually called the "Notre Dame Rule"). If they are ranked 8th or higher in the final polls, they are guaranteed a BCS spot. None of the non-BCS conferences get that kind of treatment, and we should treat a stubborn team like Notre Dame like one of those non-BCS schools if they refuse to be put into a conference. 

All this begs the question: "Why are we still allowing this program to feed off of the NCAA and the BCS when it is obviously dying? 

Maybe its NBC's odd need to keep them on contract till 2015, despite posting the lowest ratings in the history of the contract in 2008; or maybe its because ESPN longs to see the Irish climb back out from obscurity.

I don't know. 

One thing I do know though is that Notre Dame has never had to work for the respect of the media, unlike almost every other football program, it is freely given to them (that fruitcake on ESPN with the lisp doesn't help matters). 

All I'm saying is how long will it take for decades of lofty expectations and goals to come crashing down on the once proud program? As far as I can tell, one season...  many are saying that without a 10-2 season and a berth in a BCS bowl game (which they will most likely lose by a wide margin and drop to 0-4 in BCS games) Weis is gone. If that's the case, prepare for a massive pay-out Irish nation because ten wins simply ain't happening. I see losses to USC, Pittsburgh and Connecticut  (8-4) and a probable firing of Mr. Weis. 

Am I impressed by the 35-0 beat down of Nevada in the opening game?  Not really, with a defense as bad as Nevada's; almost anyone could slice and dice a secondary like mister underachieving did. 

How about a clutch loss to Forcier and co.? Once again, losing to a team that went 3-9 last year IS not a good start. How about winning a game they basically stole against MSU (33-30)? No, not really, they won, but shouldn't have against a rebuilding team in Michigan St.  Also, they lost their best receiver in that game, most likely for the season.

Honestly, if the Irish get through a mediocre at best schedule unscathed, I retract this statement and they do deserve a BCS bid; but if they only win 10 games in which they play teams like Nevada, Washington, Washington St., Purdue and Stanford, then they should maybe, just maybe, get to go to the Gator Bowl.

Hello Hawaii, maybe while Weis is there sipping on his third Pina Colada he can just save face and retire. Who knows, but one thing I do know is that Notre Dame is done after this season if they just manage eight wins. Next year, it doesn't get any easier as they will lose 4 of 5 OL starters, their safeties and their best Corner Back.

So back to 7-6 until they rebuild again? Irish nation simply won't stand for it and neither should the media.

In the end, just let it die. College football will move on, just like when USC died for a time and Oklahoma and Nebraska. Life will go on; stop trying to resuscitate this program; if it's going to survive, make it do it on its own, just like USC and Oklahoma did. In the same way, analysts ask Nebraska, Miami, and Florida State to do.

It would only be fair.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.