It’s been a season long disrespect tour for Notre Dame. From the first game to the last game, pundits and fans have found new and interesting ways to shit all over the Irish.
Usually the Notre Dame disrespect starts before the season, but this year, it came after the Irish beat the Michigan Wolverines. Sure... the Irish were ranked higher and were playing at homep, and the country still favored Michigan to win, and were highly confident with their picks. That didn’t come as much surprise, and really, I didn’t see it as disrespect — I saw it as stupidity.
The real disrespect came after Notre Dame beat Michigan. Notre Dame OWNED that game, and the outcome was never in doubt. This was the game that the great Skunkbear defense was supposed to own the Irish while Shea Patterson kicked off his Heisman campaign. What actually happened was that Notre Dame physically beat the shit out of Michigan.
After the game, the story wasn’t about Notre Dame’s dominance, it was about OH MY GOD WHAT’S WRONG WITH MICHIGAN? It was as if everyone just wanted to believe that Michigan laid an egg, instead of being made into an omelette.
The Irish did exactly what they needed to do, but walked out of Notre Dame Stadium with none of the street cred they deserved. Notre Dame compounded matters the next week when the Ball State Cardinals came to town. The Irish put together a ridiculous gameplan in their attempt to improve Brandon Wimbush as a passer, and quite frankly... they showed up worse than flat — they played like they didn’t give a crap.
Another “close” win against the Vanderbilt Commodores, and suddenly what looked like a promising season WAS STILL A PROMISING SEASON. Notre Dame was 3-0 and had never trailed at any point in the season so far. Things were about to change too...
Brian Kelly decided to bench Brandon Wimbush, and started Ian Book at quarterback against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. But before that game happened, half of the media was putting Notre Dame on upset alert. The Irish responded with a 56-27 win.
But THAT was Wake. Surely the Irish would slip up against the Stanford Cardinal. David Shaw has their number, and Bryce Love is a beast. Notre Dame answered that call with a 38-17 win in a game that saw the return of Dexter Williams (and the unfortunate slide of Bryce Love).
Notre Dame is 5-0 now, and instead of being shown some respect for their now explosive offense and a defense that was just lighting teams up, everyone still expected a big misstep. Now the Irish are heading to Blacksburg to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Clearly the Irish are the better team, but because a crowd gets loud for 3 minutes before they even have the coin flip — the Hokies were the next team that Irish haters said would finally beat Notre Dame.
Nah. As it turned out, the pregame love fest that night in Virginia was just a bunch of smoke, and the Irish torched the Hokies 45-23.
The real trouble was about to start just as Notre Dame was beginning to finally get a little respect. The Pittsburgh Panthers came to South Bend and gave the Irish everything they could handle. Notre Dame was able to get out with a 19-14 win, but the damage was done. Suddenly, talk of college football playoff rankings had Notre Dame on the outside looking in, and Michigan was now being hailed as a better team than Notre Dame because THE FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON DOESN’T COUNT YOU GUYS.
Notre Dame has their bye week, and then they flew out to San Diego to play the Navy Midshipmen. The Irish handle their business with a 22 point win, and then it’s waiting time for the first playoff rankings. Again, the talk now centered around the 1 loss LSU Tigers deserving a spot in the top 4, and many were pushing to have them ranked ahead of the undefeated Irish.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. The first rankings had Notre Dame at #4 and LSU at #3. To make matters worse, there was more bemoaning that MICHIGAN IS STILL BETTER THAN NOTRE DAME EVEN THOUGH THEY LOST TO THE IRISH YOU GUYS. Michigan was right there at #5.
LSU loses to Alabama (as expected) and the Irish keep winning and rises up a spot to #3. Michigan also moves up, and now they’re in the top 4 with just about every person with a blog, radio show, podcast, or spot on television claiming that the Wolverines deserved to jump the Irish if they both win out.
It was a solid two weeks plus of this narrative being thrown around so much that people took it as gospel. The disrespect for Notre Dame and a win in September that suddenly didn’t matter was the all consuming discussion.
It should have ended last Saturday when the Irish capped off a 12-0 season with its win over the USC Trojans, and with Michigan’s ass getting kicked by the Ohio State Buckeyes — but nah. Pundits did start finally agreeing that Notre Dame was headed to the playoffs as the probable #3, but then some stupid math came along and said the Irish weren’t a shoo-in.
This was all the fuel the media needed to start dropping the Irish to #4 in the rankings after the conference championship weekend finished up. Suddenly, the Oklahoma Sooners and the Buckeyes were the better team, and maybe a win by the Georgia Bulldogs and Oklahoma Sooners this weekend shakes it up enough to pull both in front of Notre Dame.
It’s all some serious bullshit — and bullshit to keep people clicking as this year’s playoff race was pretty dull in comparison to previous years. Nobody wants Notre Dame in the playoffs, and have used every weak argument for most of the season to justify their hate. Through it all though, the committee has seemed pretty clear where they stand with Notre Dame, and that’s right where they have them.
I’m not here to try and convince anyone that Notre Dame is better than Alabama or Clemson right now. I think the rankings are pretty dead on. This is just a reminder that despite Notre Dame finishing a regular season undefeated for just the 3rd time in 30 years, they are considered overrated and unworthy by the gatekeepers of the college football conversation — and they are nothing more than a “name” for the playoffs.
Well, I call bullshit on all of them. Notre Dame has earned every bit of their 12-0 record and place in the playoffs. And now the disrespect of being told the Irish will get their asses handed to them by either Clemson or Alabama is starting to lean on me. People actually equate this Notre Dame team to the 2012 squad.
I mean... if a game from September didn’t really count for this season, how in the hell does a game from 6 years ago have anything to do with this year? Oh yeah — I forgot... it’s because Notre Dame isn’t in a conference [or insert any other meaningless statement].
Hate on haters, BUT PUT SOME RESPEK ON THAT NAME.