Notre Dame: Still overrated all these years later

by Sonny Bunch on January 8, 2013

I wrote this piece on BCS reform way back in 2006 for the Weekly Standard; I would argue that, given the events of last night, it’s as relevant as ever. The most relevant portion?

But the BCS must be reformed. First: No independent teams should be allowed to participate in the playoff. Consider the most famous independent, Notre Dame. Currently ranked number 11 by the BCS, by virtue of its 10-2 record, the Fighting Irish are, almost certainly, the most overrated team in the recent history of college football. They have no quality wins this season. The only opponent they defeated that managed to crack the polls was Georgia Tech, which finished 25th in the USA Today poll and was unranked by the AP. Notre Dame’s 10 wins came against teams with a combined record of 56-66, a full 10 games under .500. Their victories included wins against all three service academies, Stanford (1-11), and a narrow, last minute, home win against Michigan State (4-8). Notre Dame’s losses were dreadful: 20 point shellackings by Michigan (at home) and at Southern California.

I think we have a new winner in the race for “most overrated team in the recent history of college football.” Perhaps unsurprisingly it is, once again, a Notre Dame squad.

Fun Fact Update: I did some quick math: Notre Dame is 2-13 in bowl games since 1994 with an average margin of loss of 15 points. Their two wins? In the Hawaii Bowl and the Sun Bowl. But no, the Irish couldn’t possibly be perennially overrated!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike C January 8, 2013 at 11:54 am

The post sounds good-and-nice, but it’s not enough to say that ND should not have been in the game last night, you need to say who should have replaced them, and it needs to be based on information available before the bowl games started. Based on that, using the BCS standings, ND had wins over the #6 (Stanford), #11 (Oklahoma) and #18 (Michigan) teams. So who replaces ND? Florida had a lot of close wins including one brutal one where they needed a blocked punt with a minute left in a home game where they were favored by 5 touchdowns, plus they lost a game. Oregon had one top 25 win (#13 Oregon State) and lost to a team ND beat (Stanford). Georgia lost twice, including one game by 28 points. Kansas State lost by 4 scores to a mediocre Baylor team and had two top-25 wins. Everyone else from a BCS conference had at least two losses. ND was shown to be far below Alabama’s level last night. Unfortunately, there is no non-laughable argument that someone else should have played Alabama. I agree the BCS needs to go and am glad it will be in two years, but ND would have been the #1 seed under any scenario, unless you are going to base things on subjective “style points” rather than on-field results. I agree ND should not have made a BCS game in 2006 BTW, but that’s irrelevant to this year (and even for 2006 it’s not obvious which team should have replaced ND).

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Sonny Bunch January 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Or you could do as I have done and propose an 4- or 8-team playoff!

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Mike C January 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I agree with the playoff idea, ideally with 8 teams, along with cutting the regular season back to 8 games. I was mostly disagreeing with the assertion that ND was “overrated.” It was rated exactly where it should have been going into the postseason based on everyone’s body of work.

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Mike C January 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Sorry, meant to say cutting the regular season back to 11 games. I think conference championship games are ridiculous and would dump those. Would the Big 12 really have been better if there were a Kansas State-Oklahoma rematch the first weekend in December? Was there any point to the Pac 12 championship game that was rematch of a game from one week before? Even if OSU were eligible, why should they be put in a no-win situation having to play a mediocre Nebraska team that they beat by 30 in October? 11 games, no conference championships, a committee picks the 8 best teams and they go at it.

Also, in response to Michael M’s comments, not clear to me what horrid SEC-Big 10 massacres would have been avoided – OSU would have won the Big 10 championship games in 06 and 07 almost for sure, and still gotten destroyed by Florida and LSU. And what’s the point of making ND ineligible because there’s no conference championship game – should they have been forced into the Big East this year and had to beat Louisville or Rutgers or someone like that to make the BCS? What would that prove? They already beat three teams that would have easily won the Big East. ND would go to a conference in that event in order to remain eligible and almost certainly play a weaker schedule than it does now – look at who the SEC plays out of conference. Other than South Carolina (Clemson), Florida (FSU) and Alabama (Michigan), no SEC team played any legitimate nonconference game, and only Alabama played a good team that isn’t a historic rival.

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Brent February 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Mediocre Nebraska would’ve given Notre Dame a run for its money, given the Irish run defense’s issues with offenses inside of the top 50 in total offense. Didn’t Pitt give those boys a scare? Another Domer holding to his mythology…

Micheal M January 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I think the point he was making is that they would have been flat out ineligible. Win all the games you want your NOT going to the BCS bowls because you refuse to join a conference…..

I have often said the exact same thing. I would have went a step farther though and included the caveat that if your conference doesn’t play a championship YOU CAN”T GO to the National Championship. Imagine all those horrid Big ten vs SEC massacres we could have avoided…..

Now of course the Big Ten has a championship game and the big 12 doesn’t… it’s doesn’t matter the same rule should apply. No conference championship game not BCS bowl for you.

I agree with Mike C inasmuch there really was no way out of keeping Notre Dame out of the NC game. Or was there? Well how about all the other non-aq schools throughout the year who went undefeated and were passed over for the National Championship? Notre Dame is non-aq……

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Brett January 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

As a proud Wildcat I must note that not *every* Big 10-SEC matchup this year resulted in an SEC-on-top massacre…

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