I can’t seem to get a good grip on what it is exactly that is happening this season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I’ve tried countless times over the past few weeks to look deep into the reasons behind Notre Dame’s horrific 2016 campaign. Were we all duped? Should we have seen all this coming a little better? Am I crazy or is the entire fanbase?
I went searching.
While most roads lead me to the obvious things such as: NFL talent departing the roster, poor coaching, preseason off the field mistakes, decided schematic advantages, and other such items... I am still putting my head through a wall over the obvious things that should have cancelled that list out.
Notre Dame just played the softest first seven game schedule that I can ever remember and they did it with the best quarterback of the Brian Kelly era. 2-5 is all they can come up with so far?
Maybe because it’s Miami week and I have been forced to watch some Miami videos of the past. I watched videos with Ed Reed and Michael Irvin. I watched them, and a thought that has always been in my head kept shouting out, “WHERE’S THE MOTIVATION?”
Entitlement is a harsh word when using it to describe a football culture, and I hesitate to use it now- but there is still an issue of entitlement when it comes to Notre Dame football. It’s a generalization- and a horrible one at that, but it seems accurate, and it certainly helps explain how Notre Dame can underachieve so often with the talent that it has and has had in the recent past.
Is that a coaching problem? Is that a university problem?
Do these players WANT it enough? Even if they do, are there too many obstacles in their way to sustain that desire and that passion needed to achieve what is expected? Will they ever be able to OVERACHIEVE and prove people wrong?
In my recent pondering, I came across two videos that I have seen already that shed some light on those questions.
The first one was quite controversial when it first aired, and I’m sure most of you have already seen it, and discussed its meaning:
The second was a year later, and stood as one of the capstones of “proving everyone wrong” that was so alive in December of 2012:
For the story image, I used a picture of the worst team in Notre Dame history- the 2007 team. Many people have compared this season to that of 2007, and while the record gives cause, I hardly think this team is worthy of such an ominous description, but at the same time- but at the same time... the feeling is still the same.
Finding motivation to give everything you have on the football field is hard at Notre Dame right now. Maybe it wasn’t that way 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, but it’s hard. Players are smart, and they can see a good life beyond football, and that’s why many chose to come to Notre Dame. With Notre Dame there are just more options.
Football factories like Alabama and Ohio State have an entirely different attitude that surrounds it. The old football factory of Miami is a similar model. This game is what they have, and all that they have. That last part may not even be true- but a lot of them believed it and believe it still.
Irish Sport Daily’s Mike Frank has spoke about this countless times in the past, and even though I share few opinions with him about Notre Dame football, he hits the nail right on the head whenever he brings it up.
Where is the motivation? Why do they even need motivated? Are things or people at Notre Dame hindering that part of the equation to have a successful football program?
I’m sorry if I have no answers and endless questions, but with football and in life, sometimes the answers are the questions we ask. I’m still searching for answers for this season that go deeper than the surface noise, and until I ask them all or get any answers- this is what I have to offer.