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National Respect Has Shifted to the Hardwood for Notre Dame

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How do the national opinions and frequent narratives differ between the football and basketball programs at Notre Dame?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Notre Dame vs West Virginia Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve done our fair share of comparisons between the football and basketball programs at the University of Notre Dame, and we’ve even compared football coach Brian Kelly’s work to that of basketball coach Mike Brey. It’s an obvious comparison and a relatively easy route to go. However, with football season rapidly approaching, coverage tends to turn 100 percent to football.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Until, over at NBC Sports, I found someone else who was as sick of preseason football analysis as I am. Rob Dauster has made the audacious move of publishing a preseasons top 25 for the 2017-2018 college basketball season. On that list, you’ll find the Irish at 21.

Considering all the good that Mike Brey has done for Notre Dame basketball, not only over the past three seasons but also over the course of his career, it’s no surprise that the bullet point for next year’s basketball squad features the line “I’m fine betting on Brey to have Notre Dame in the mix every year.” At this point, who wouldn’t?

Meanwhile, a vast majority of the trending sports articles just of the past week that mention the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team has a topic coverage range of the following:

  • Notre Dame is going to be bad at football this year, just like last year
  • Brian Kelly is on the hot seat
  • Talkin’ ACC memberships
  • Don’t miss the Notre Dame vs. Georgia/Stanford/USC/whoever else game
  • LOL Charlie Weis’ contract

The Weis contract and the ACC membership, at this point, are well covered, so I won’t bother touching on them. As far as the first bullet point is concerned, here’s a good example. As soon as I read the title to Bleacher Reports’ piece “Storied College Football Programs That Will Struggle in 2017”, I knew. I would have bet you copious amounts of tacos that Brian Kelly and his Fighting Irish would show up on that list. I would have bet extra guac on nailing the rest of the easy targets the list names, such as Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas A&M. I may not have guessed Florida or Arkansas, but that’s beside the point. Even articles that predict a good season based on metrics, statistics, recruiting classes, new coaching hires, and so on are hit with a barrage of “Notre Dame is actually bad” comments.

Meanwhile, when they talk about Notre Dame basketball in the preseason, the attitude is generally “don’t bet against them”.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another popular piece for sportswriters to put out multiple times this time of year is the “who is on the seat” piece. Just recently we covered one such post that came from the AP. Just like with the “who will struggle” posts, my money is on Brian Kelly being on these lists before I open them. This isn’t even because the Irish went 4-8 last year. Kelly was popping up on these lists before 2012, when the Irish couldn’t get over the eight-win hump. It’s the nature of the job.

Meanwhile, when was the last time you heard Mike Brey’s name in a coaching debate? To my knowledge, it was when he was pegged as a potential successor to Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. A far cry from “he is on the hot seat”. The last time Brey may have even been close to the hot seat was when interest was building for Notre Dame basketball, but Brey couldn’t get wins in March. That, as we all know, has changed drastically.

Part of the reason Brey and the basketball Irish get more respect in the media is simply because his teams have performed better. He’s seen more success, and that’s why you see Notre Dame projected to contend for the ACC title. Coach Kelly hasn’t won a major postseason game at Notre Dame, and it’s looking like 10-3 or better is the blip on the radar full of 8-5 seasons, with the occasional 4-8 thrown in.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

However, some of these same sportswriters will fill the other inevitable preseason piece, “don’t miss these games.” Just this week two were published by ESPN and Fox Sports respectively, one featuring the game against the Georgia Bulldogs, while the other mentioned the visit to the Stanford Cardinal. Even when people think Notre Dame will be bad at football, they still want to watch.