Rice Is Rolling Over in His Grave

Dedicated to Mocking Bad Sports Writing

Gregg Doyel: Sophist

Posted by biggusrickus on December 22, 2009

I’d kind of like to see Notre Dame join the Big 10. It would certainly be more interesting than Missouri or Cincinnati joining, and it wouldn’t cause a bunch of other conferences to reallign. However, I completely understand why they don’t want to, even it would net them more money on average. Gregg Doyel, well, he doesn’t get it.

Independence isn’t free — just ask Notre Dame

No, there’s a hefty fuckin’ fee.

When the Big Ten came calling in 1999, Notre Dame put its arrogant ideal of independence ahead of all else. Let’s see how that worked out:

They are pretty much the only major program who can afford to do that. So, I don’t know if they were arrogant so much as, well, rational, all things considered.

Since 1999, Notre Dame football has fallen off the cliff.

“Off the cliff” is a gross overstatement, Gregg.

The school with 11 national championships and seven Heisman winners has added zilch to those totals. Notre Dame has finished in the top 10 just once, way up there at No. 9 in 2005, and although it strong-armed a private door for itself into the BCS, it has used that door just three times — and gone 0-3 in those bowl games.

All of this, of course, happened because they did not sign on with the Big 10. It has nothing to do with the fact they have been coached by the imbecilic Bob Davie, the sub-.500 Ty Willingham or Ol’ Frontbutt himself, Charlie Weis. Nope, it was because they remained an independent.

Since 1999 Notre Dame has fired three or four coaches, depending on whether you count George O’Leary [For the purposes of this argument, I don’t], and has failed to land the coach (Urban Meyer) [Who has a dream job at Florida] of its dreams (Bob Stoops) [Who has a dream job at Oklahoma]. It has lost eight consecutive years to Southern California, which is understandable, and twice in a row at home to Navy, which is not.

Those losses to Navy? They were brought about by a clandestine organization of former Big Ten players led by Bob Griese.

Financially, its BCS payout has been reduced nearly 75 percent since the BCS was created in 1998, from $17 million then to $4.5 million now. That’s the same as Boise State gets, with one big difference: Boise State football is better. And the Fighting Irish’s exclusive network television deal? Notre Dame makes barely half as much from NBC as each Big Ten school — even Northwestern — makes from the Big Ten’s deals with ESPN, ABC and the Big Ten Network.

I suspect he’s only half-right or something here, but I don’t feel like digging up financial numbers, so I’ll just say: Whatever.

Read that sentence again.

Don’t tell me what to fucking do, Gregg. I got it the first time.

Independence isn’t the primary reason for the erosion of Notre Dame football — Lou Holtz is the primary reason — but it has been a contributing factor. Without a conference title to play for, Notre Dame stops being relevant every year in which it falls out of the national title picture, which since 1999 has usually been mid-October. NBC still shows its games, but on the other six days a week Notre Dame is in the news only when its coach is about to be fired. That kind of irrelevance cripples recruiting, and you only have to watch the Notre Dame defense get out-athleted by Navy to know what crippled recruiting can do to a program.

I guess Holtz deserves some blame for getting them on their minor probation, but you know who deserves the bulk of the credit? The guys who couldn’t coach worth a shit after he left! Yes that irrelevance has just crippled their recruiting. Let me start by acknowledging that recruiting rankings are imperfect at best, but that’s all I can really use here. Rivals only goes back to 2002, but here are their rankings under Willingham and Weis, keeping in mind that Willingham is/was kind of a shitty recruiter:

  • 2002 Rank: 24 – Willingham had about a month to put this class together.
  • 2003 Rank: 12 – Following a BCS bid in 2002.
  • 2004 Rank: 32 – Dipped to 5-7 in 2003, and Willingham’s status was up in the air.
  • 2005 Rank: 40 – Willingham fired after going 6-5. Weis had to scramble.
  • 2006 Rank: 8 – BCS bid and Weis shows he can at least recruit.
  • 2007 Rank: 8 – Another BCS bid and another good recruiting year.
  • 2008 Rank: 2 – Things were still looking pretty stable even after a horrible year, including a 1-9 start.
  • 2009 Rank: 21 – After following up a 3-9 with a 6-6, Weis’ job status wasn’t so secure anymore. He would eventually be fired after another disappointing 6-6 in ’09.

So, their recruiting has been so poor that when things were looking up under coaches they had an average ranking of about seventh. When there was turnover or questions about the future of the current coach their recruiting slipped, just like everywhere else in the country. If you would prefer the number of draft picks, they’ve produced 42 from 2000-2009, averaging about 4-5 a season. Not bad either. Point being, they’ve had talent. Enough talent that they shouldn’t lose to Navy, ever. The other point being, Gregg is 100% wrong about their recruiting being affected by “irrelevance.”

Back to my Holtz position: He started great at Notre Dame, but he started great everywhere he coached, then checked out. Look at his career for yourself. His year-by-year results at North Carolina State, Arkansas, Notre Dame and South Carolina share the same bell curve. Holtz was brilliant, then indifferent at Notre Dame — national title in 1988, 65 victories in six years; then 23-11-1 with zero bowl wins in his final three years — and then, for a parting gift, his tenure put Notre Dame in NCAA purgatory for successor Bob Davie. Notre Dame, as we knew it, was finished.

Feel free to look it up. Gregg is somewhat correct, I suppose. He didn’t have another year as good as ’93 in those final three. However, five of the losses and the tie came in ’94. Holtz got them to 9-3 and 8-3 in his final two years, which I think most people would think of as respectable. Notre Dame, under Holtz, was cheating, so…good riddance, I guess?

But Notre Dame didn’t know it. So when the Big Ten extended an invitation in 1999, Notre Dame predictably declined. The Rev. Edward A. Malloy, the school president, noted haughtily in 1999, “Notre Dame has a core identity, and at that core are these characteristics — Catholic, private, independent.”

What an arrogant fuckface. Catholic? Private?! Independent?! Oh, wait, that doesn’t seem all that haughty. I’d call it, I don’t know, factual.

Add a fourth core characteristic: Hypocrites. [sic] Remember, Notre Dame is a member of the Big East in all sports but football.

Where they are independent, as they were in all sports at the time of said quote. So, it wasn’t hypocritical. Even if it was, is there anything more boring than bullshit about hypocrisy?

And let’s add a fifth core characteristic: Mediocre. Since turning down the Big Ten in 1999, Notre Dame football has gone 75-59.

All because they didn’t join the Big 10! Did you know that Ty Willingham’s career record is 76-88-1? Did you also know he coached at two schools belonging to conferences where, at each school, he compiled a worse winning percentage than he had at Notre Dame? I’m just rambling though, because the Big 10 refusal is to blame for everything.

Joining the Big Ten for football wouldn’t automatically change that,

Wha-huh?! You have just blown my mind, sir.

but it would give Notre Dame the chance to turn itself around, including games against three or four Big Ten bottom-feeders every year and the benefit of playing for a spot in its league title game, which would keep even mediocre Irish teams relevant deep into most seasons.

They played Michigan (tied for last), Michigan State and Purdue (who tied for 6th). They went 2-1 in these games, losing to the worst of the three and eking out a win over the other two. I mean, unless they get to play Indiana and Illinois every single season, I don’t see the big easing of their schedule.

And as an added bonus, history shows that it’s three times as easy to get into a BCS bowl as the second team from the Big Ten — nine Big Ten runners-up have done it since 1998 — than it is to get into a BCS bowl as Notre Dame (three times since ’98).

And this has nothing to do with the fact that Notre Dame has been kind of crappy. They didn’t deserve to go to any of those three BCS games, but they got there because they are Notre Fucking Dame and worked out a special deal where all they have to do is finish in the top 12 to get one.

The money is demonstrably better and the football would probably be better as well, but Notre Dame refuses to join a conference. Why? For the same reason a stubborn child refuses to wear a jacket in the cold — because.

I thought the whole core thing was an okay reason. Better than your made-up reason, anyway.

So there.

Who’s the child here, Gregg? You just made up a thing  that nobody has said or thought and then, like, emphasized it with the most childish paragraph (to use the term loosely) possible.

If that’s not good enough, I’ll give you the reasoning of Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, but I have to warn you: It’s not good enough, either.

Well, it would have to be better than your made-up non-reason.

“All of this has a lot more to do with our priorities than it does with business issues,” Swarbrick told the Chicago Tribune. “Our independence is tied up in a lot of the rivalries we have. We play Navy every year and have the tradition of USC weekends. Frankly, it works pretty well to play USC in October at home and in November at their place.”

That sounds reasonable. Not the greatest reason ever, but I would say it is, to just pull a phrase out of the ether, good enough.

Let me get this straight. Notre Dame is staying independent so it can play USC in October instead of September? Is that what he just said?

Well, there’s the possibility the series would be dropped entirely with an 8-team conference schedule, or they’d have to drop Navy in all likelihood. And I think moreso than playing USC at home in October they would prefer to go to California in November. Because it is fucking cold in South Bend, Indiana that time of year.

I’ll be damned, that is what he said. No shock, really. The people in charge come and go, but Notre Dame remains Notre Dame. If Notre Dame were a historical figure, it would be snobby airhead Marie Antoinette — wasting away on a diet of sponge cake.

I guess one could think of Notre Dame as snobby, but airhead? You want to go with airhead, for a school that tries to hold its players to higher academic standards than the other major colleges? Marie Antoinette also said, “Let them eat cake.” Not, “Mm. I could live on cake.” You unfunny dipshit.

The Big Ten is offering a fresh supply of fruit and vegetables, but Notre Dame being Notre Dame, it’ll go Biblical and treat the conference like the forbidden tree. Notre Dame is big on fairy tales — like the one about the greatness of Fighting Irish football.

So, they will partake of the Big 10 and get kicked out of Eden? That metaphor makes the opposite of your point, you ignorant fuckwad.

Okay, I hate Notre Dame and like that they’re bad, but holy shit people (who might agree with Gregg). Notre Dame’s problem is not that they are not in a conference. I don’t even think it is atrributable to their slightly higher academic standards. As I demonstrated earlier, their recruiting has not suffered much. What their problem is is they have hired a string of bad to mediocre coaches. That’s it. If Kelly turns out to be good, they’ll win again. If not, he’ll be fired in a couple of years and they’ll go hire some other dude. Eventually they will hire a good coach and win again. Because contrary to what excuse-makers for various coaches say, it is not hard to recruit to Notre Dame. They are a marketable program with oodles of tradition and lore, and some players like that kind of thing. They are also highly publicized, so if you go there and do well, you’ll be featured on Sportscenter constantly and maybe win a Heisman or something.

Fuck, I hate arguing in favor of Notre Dame being a big-time program.

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