As the dust settled over Championship weekend the talking heads and the Notre Dame haters emerged in full force giving their arguments for why the Fighting Irish should not be included in the College Football Playoff. Fortunately, they largely fell upon deaf ears (at least with the College Football Playoff Committee) as the Irish did not move from the #3 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.
The Irish Get Clemson
This sets the Irish for a date with Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on December 29th at 4:00 p.m. Those that choose to listen will now be subjected to 3 ½ weeks of venom from people suggesting why the Irish don’t belong and talking heads pontificating about how the Irish will be blown out by Clemson. My response will simply be pass the hot chocolate – “Fa la la la la la.” Maybe Drue Tranquill said it best, when he pretty much reminded us that everyone hates Notre Dame.
While I generally choose to ignore this type of “noise”, I do at times find it frustrating to attempt to reason with people who cannot be reasoned with. So, I generally ignore these people. However, should your holiday banter include a spirited or spirit fueled debate with the Notre Dame haters of the world you might remind them as John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things”.
You may remind the various Notre Dame critics, analysts (if we can call them that), and haters to consider the following:
Who Did Notre Dame Beat This Year?
Easiest response that you can give – “Everyone, of course”! Those that choose to be more detailed – Notre Dame had zero wins over FCS opponents simply because they do not schedule them. However, Notre Dame had wins over four ranked opponents (at the time they played). In addition, the combined record of Notre Dame opponents was 77-69 (.530), eight of those opponents are playing in the post-season.
Consider Alabama and Clemson by comparison. Alabama 12-0 – one win over an FCS opponent and four wins over ranked opponents. In addition, their opponents are 85-72 (.541) and eight of those opponents are playing in the post-season. Clemson also 12-0 – one win over an FCS opponent and just two wins over ranked opponents. In addition, their opponents are 85-66 (.563) and an impressive ten of those opponents are playing in the post-season. When you compare the resumes of the three undefeated teams, they aren’t all that much different.
Notre Dame Had A Weak Schedule!
Anyone who follows college football knows that schedules are made years in advance. You are rewarded for trying to schedule tough – period! Notre Dame should not be penalized because perennial powers (Stanford, USC, Virginia Tech, and Florida State all had off years). That is totally outside of their control. For example, 2022-2023 the schedule features Ohio State, Clemson, and USC as “big” games. If you go further out 2028 features Alabama and Clemson teams that were probably scheduled while they were playing for National Championships. If they are down by 2028, you cannot and should not penalize a good faith effort to schedule powerful programs.
They Don’t Pass The “eye test”!
As soon as someone on FOX or ESPN can define exactly what the “eye test” is, I’ll consider this an argument. First, if we are being completely honest, how much do these analysts really know about any of these teams. How many Notre Dame, Clemson, or Alabama football practices has the “Gameday” crew watched in person? How much “coaches’ tape” have the studio analysts from FOX reviewed? My guess is not a ton. I feel bad for lesser known teams and the “eye test”. Washington State went 10-2 and is playing in a “lesser bowl” behind several three loss teams. Perhaps they don’t pass the “eye test” because most people aren’t awake to watch the west coast games on Saturday nights. At the end of the day, many studio analysts are no more qualified to compare teams than we are at home.
Notre Dame Must Join A Conference!
Why because ESPN says they must? Consider the lowest rated Notre Dame telecast of the season was a September match-up with Ball State. That contest still scored higher T.V. ratings than USC/Stanford and Michigan State/Arizona State played that same weekend. Last season Alabama won the championship without winning the SEC, Ohio State made the playoff without winning the Big Ten. This year a 12-1 Ohio State team that won the Big 10 championship was left out of the playoff. Apparently, a conference championship doesn’t mean that much to the committee that selects the playoff teams. The fact is that in 2015, 2017, and 2018 Notre Dame has been in the “mix” for a championship without playing in a conference.
Notre Dame Would Get Crushed In The SEC!
Notre Dame is 3-1 in their last four meetings over SEC opponents. Two of those wins were against LSU, the lone loss a 20-19 defeat at the hands of Georgia.
Though some may disagree, by any rationale standard you can measure Notre Dame clearly belongs in the 2018 College Football Playoff. However, something we can all agree on is that their play on December 29th and perhaps beyond will determine whether they can compete with the elites of college football in a playoff format.