Notre Dame head coach and part-time Cookie Monster Charlie Weis took time out of his day today to complain that his team has been unfairly ranked in this week’s AP and USA Today college football polls. He’s particularly upset that Tennessee and Florida are both ranked higher than the Irish because UT had “the same game we had” (against Alabama) and Florida had a bye week. Want to know why they’re ranked ahead of you Charlie? Easy. They’re both better than your team. But Page 2 author DJ Gallo said it best.
Take a look at the box score from Notre Dame’s nail-biter with the UCLA Bruins from this past Saturday. Everyone who counts in the Irish offense seems to have had a decent game, no? But anyone who watched that game in person or on television knows that the Irish looked terrible for all but 40 seconds of that game. A couple of us Rumors and Rants staffers were actually at this game with a friend of ours who happens to be a UCLA alumnus and we saw the “real” Fighting Irish offense. Quinn was bouncing passes left and right and actually being booed by the fans. UCLA pressured and harrassed Quinn and the rest of the Irish offense the entire game, except for the final minutes when they put a leash on their pass rush and cost themselves the game. Darius Walker looked awful and was routinely taken out on third and short. It wasn’t until Notre Dame was forced to pass every down that they started completing passes, which is why Quinn’s stats seem decent.
What happened in South Bend last Saturday has been Notre Dame’s MO since the Lou Holtz era: get as easy a schedule as possible, play down to the competition, and enjoy the artificially high ranking the press always hands out to Notre Dame. Notre Dame’s schedule is easier than Auburn‘s and that’s saying something. At least Auburn plays in a tough conference. If Notre Dame were in the Big 10 or the SEC, they’d go 7-5 every year. Notre Dame plays all three service academies this year! AND North Carolina! AND Stanford! But they get away with it every year because they play USC. Yeah, yeah they played close with USC last year. So did Fresno State and Arizona State. But no one hears them crying.
Which brings us to an aside: Notre Dame has the worst fans in all of college sports. They have a fan base spread out all over the country who, for the most part, didn’t go to Notre Dame. College sports is different than professional sports. If a person did not attend the college they root for, then that person is guilty not only of front-running, but being a complete idiot. To wit: we observed several Notre Dame fans (with families in tow) asking for directions on ND’s campus. Touchdown Jesus is right over there, guys. That stadium was dead silent for the most part until Notre Dame took the lead late. We’ll say it again, if you didn’t go there, you cannot root for the team.
We don’t ask for much here at Rumors and Rants. But please, stop pretending that Notre Dame is a legitimate title contender. Usually championship teams play defense and don’t play down to their competition. Notre Dame was a fourteen point favorite at home against an unranked team and still was 66 seconds from losing. A win’s a win, but Charlie Weis and Notre Dame “fan” should not be surprised if the pollsters say that two teams from a power conference who play decent schedules should be ranked above a team that consistently plays down to its sub-par competition.