The nightmare scenario for many college football fans around the nation has come true. Notre Dame will play for a BCS national championship in January.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o put together a Heisman Trophy worthy season on defense. Getty Images.
It may have taken a while but Notre Dame finally feels as though their approach to college football has been justified. Running an independent football program years after other big name programs decided the time was right to align with a conference has seen more than a fair share of criticism saying the life of an independent is not the way to go and by doing so actually leaves Notre Dame in the dust in terms of national relevance. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps this will be proven to be true, but this season Notre Dame made it work.
Returning to college football’s pedestal was a long and rough road at times for the Irish. Since last capturing national glory in South Bend in the 1988 season Notre Dame has made four coaching changes and even suffered through a 12-year drought without a single bowl victory, a stretch perhaps unimaginable since the Ara Parseghian era.
Through it all Notre Dame watched from South Bend as conference alignment seized control of the game, driven by massive television contracts and exposure for conferences in new, larger markets. Even Notre Dame felt compelled to make some sort of move to protect their entire brand, but independence in football was still a priority. Fortunately for Notre Dame they found a conference willing to work with that philosophy in the ACC.
I hold a certain level of respect for the way Notre Dame chooses to operate their football program. I may find flaws in the logic at times in a world where more money is good and even more money is better, but the traditionalist in me appreciates Notre Dame’s desire to work as an independent in football despite what some may say about their schedule.
At the beginning of this season, before the first kickoff of the year, many of us went down Notre Dame’s schedule and suggested the Irish would be lucky to reach eight or nine wins. I admit I was one of them at the start. Games against Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC were seen by many to be likely losses in August. As it turned out, some of them were still tough match-ups, but Notre Dame showed something they have improving on under head coach Brian Kelly that put this year’s Notre Dame team over the edge.
Defense. … Continue Reading