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The Irish Are Fighting a Losing Cause

Sep 28, 2010 – 12:38 PM
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David Whitley

David Whitley %BloggerTitle%

Notre Dame football

Urban Meyer fantasizes about coaching Notre Dame, so you can call him a dreamer. You can call him a good Catholic boy. You can call him college football's most accomplished parole officer.

One thing Meyer has never been called is a fool.

He is named after a pope, so Meyer knows Chris Rainey will be granted sainthood before the Fighting Irish win another national championship. And if a school can't win a title, why go?

That's why Meyer chose to coach Florida instead of Notre Dame. That's why despite reaffirming his dream of coaching the Irish last year, Meyer never considered leaving Gainesville. Reality trumps emotion, and the former Notre Dame assistant knows the Irish will never be relevant.

Sure, they will always matter in cosmetic ways. NBC will keep showing them. Their recruiting classes will always be ranked as the second coming of the '79 Steelers. Their new coach will always be hailed as the next Knute Rockne.

Then, as always, Notre Dame will lose a game that might lead it to relevance. And as always, hundreds of "Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling" headlines will appear.

The latest bucket of cold holy water came Saturday, a 37-14 shower from Stanford. Four games into Brian Kelly's reign, his only win is over Purdue. The same Purdue that lost to Toledo on Saturday.

Take heart, Irish fans. The Rockets aren't on this year's schedule.

In time, Kelly will get the program to where it doesn't have to worry about losing to Mid-American Conference schools (look out, here comes Western Michigan to South Bend on Oct. 16). He has to be a better coach than Ty Willingham or Charlie Weis.
The Other Side

It's not just Notre Dame that is awful with the wrong coach. It's everyone. Every single program in the country loses with the wrong coach.
-- Clay Travis on why Notre Dame will be relevant in football again

Rockne could return with George Gipp, the Four Horsemen and Touchdown Jesus. It wouldn't matter since only Einstein could muster the SAT score necessary to get into Notre Dame.

The school has become too smart for its own football good. You should applaud the fact Notre Dame emphasizes books, especially if your favorite team gets to play the Irish.

Academics are not the end-all excuse for football failure, however. Brainy schools like Stanford have shown you can be competitive and vie for conference titles. But nobody seriously believes Jim Harbaugh's team is going to win a national championship.

You don't have to be a calculating guy like Meyer to know there's an easier way. Such academic leeway wasn't lost on Meyer when the Gators and Irish were vying for his affection in 2004.

That's not to suggest Meyer relied strictly on thugs and morons to win two national championships. Odds are that a future pope may be named after Tim Tebow. It's also not to suggest Notre Dame is scandal free.

It's just that when Rainey stalked his ex-girlfriend and then posed for a mugshot a couple of weeks ago, he became the 30th player arrested under Meyer's football tutelage. In comparing schools, Pope Urban knew the Notre Dame administration might crack down at 25 or 26.

Even if the Irish let Kelly sign the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, Notre Dame will never recapture its past. Only a few of this year's seniors were even alive the last time Notre Dame won a national championship.

Instead of a glittering dome, a lot of recruits see a dull Indiana town with nothing to offer but NBC cameras. In this Digital Age they can get as much exposure in far more alluring places.

South Bend or South Beach? Hmmm.

Notre Dame hasn't done anything to deserve special treatment in almost 20 years, but the BCS and TV perpetuate its delusions of grandeur. Fans are now pointing out that Lou Holtz went 5-6 in his first season. And Nick Saban lost three in a row in his first year at Alabama.

Sorry folks, this isn't the 1980s, much less the '50s. The best Notre Dame can ever hope for is an eight or nine-win season.

That's respectable, but relevance means you can threaten for a national championship every year. I'll believe Notre Dame is there when Meyer shows up in South Bend.

In his heart, he may still fantasize about coaching the Irish to a tile. In his head, he knows that dream will never come true.

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