Saturday, November 22, 2008

Classless

It may seem like moral indignation, but this apparent display of 'passion' from the Notre Dame 'fans' after their loss to the Syracuse Orange today shows many things about the Fighting Irish football program.

For starters, gaining a college education does not guarantee class, admiration or respect. There is this notion by some people in this world that having an education (or at least the opportunity to attend an institution of higher learning) makes for a more well-rounded person who can contribute to society in greater ways than those who do not have such opportunities cannot. While this is not casting aspersions towards the entire Notre Dame community, the boorish behavior of these 'supporters' (students, alumni or otherwise) should not come as a surprise as these few - for the lack of a better term - jackasses can pop up anywhere, anytime.

Second, it seems that Fighting Irish fans cannot accept the fact that their team is nothing special. The caretakers of the Irish brand (because that's what it is, after all) still view themselves equal to the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers or the Montreal Canadiens in terms of prestige in collegiate sports. Yet, the reality has set in: the built-in advantages of having a national broadcast deal (NBC), legends in the history of the game, a place at the BCS table and a top-notch education mean very little to attracting the best talents in the country. In fact, being an independent team may be the biggest disadvantage of all; teams in conferences tend to compete against each other in specific regions to match up against each other similar to how pro teams draft in order to neutralize the strengths of immediate rivals. However, this is a school that is not just living in the past, but refusing to accept that college football has evolved without a significant contribution from the Irish.

Third, who can the Irish faithful blame now? Bob Davie is long gone. Tyrone Willingham and his apparent poor recruits are long gone. Charlie Weis is starting to take a boatload of criticism, with his decision to take over the playcalling in the last two games becoming lightning rods. Yet, beyond Weis, the school's athletic department won't tell their fans the truth: it's going to take the patience of Jo and the skills of Patrick White to become relevant again in college football, let alone contend for national titles.

There are a few Golden Domers reading this now, wondering how badly you're going to be lampooned because of these idiots (who will probably get tuned up by the players in those hallowed halls and dorms in the not-too-distant future). So with all due respect to the entire fan base, for many of you, it's time to stop being dellusional.

2 comments:

Pat Reardon said...

Although it's not a rebuttal to your main theme, I would like to address the general venom that I've seen spewed towards the Notre Dame football program over the last few weeks from multiple sources. Everyone mentions that Notre Dame is no longer "relevant" and hasn't been since the early 90's. At the end of the day, we have to remember the adjective that precedes football- college. Unfortunately, wins, losses, and bowl victories seem to be the only barometer of success; however, they shouldn't be. The players are students first, athletes second. Notre Dame seems to be one of a small and diminishing group of universities that understands this. Notre Dame continually ranks #1 or very near the top in terms of graduation rates. Thus, I would argue that they are very "relevant" in the "college" football arena. I'm not trying to be a Notre Dame apologist, but they definitely have a smaller pool to select from due to high academic standards that they adamantly and refreshingly will not compromise or lower.

Jason Clinkscales said...

Forgive the lateness in the reply, but I had been thinking about your point in regards to Notre Dame for a few years actually. Tim Brown had brought this up a few years back and essentially makes you wonder if the school needs to decide what it's priority is in regards to their program.

Should they move along in the vein of the Ivy League and a handful of schools such as Duke, Northwestern and Stanford and somewhat deemphisize the importance of the football team or should they follow the route of Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and others who do have these high academic standards while fielding some sort of competitive team?

It's not an indictment per se, but I think that ND needs to make a decision on its football future. The BCS annually shapeshifts itself and will (at least in my opinion) eventually become some sort of playoff. As the strongest independent in the nation, it is going to hold on to its seat at the table, but the more pressure placed on the BCS to change, the more pressure will be place on Notre Dame to step in line. If it continues to field a mediocre or average program year after year in the face of these potential changes, many teams around the country are going to push them to either yield their BCS spot or join a conference as everyone else. Plus with NBC needing some ratings boost from anything these days, ND has to address this sooner rather than later.