The Royal Heffernans

Quite possibly the best family ever

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Over

My eternal optimism regarding ND football has been stretched to its limits in the last 10 years. I think today, it has finally been broken. Aaron Lynch is transferring.

24 years since a National Title
0 BCS wins - EVER
18 years since a meaningful Bowl win
19 years since we were ranked #1
10 years since we were ranked in the Top 10

We are a private school that relies on national recruiting. The current college landscape has created more high quality teams in different parts of the country (increased parity), and it is getting harder to win those recruiting battles. Even the ones we do win often are for nothing. How many ND commitments have flipped RIGHT BEFORE signing day in the last 10 years? Too many to count. How many people have committed and then changed their mind, willing to sit out a year? Well, in the past 2 months, we have lost 2 elite players - Tee Shepherd and now Lynch. We are not exactly stockpiling talent.

Our schedule is BRUTAL, and is getting tougher to keep reasonable. We have to front load a lot of big games to avoid the conference scheduling that has become more substantial. This year, we are looking at one of the toughest schedules in history. We will be lucky to get 8 wins.

Coaching has taken a huge hit since Holtz. Brian Kelly seems like a great coach, but there are some HUGE deficiencies in this team that he has been unable to address in over two years. Do we have a starting QB yet? I am starting to question his leadership as well. Why are all these young players transferring?

I think we are in big trouble. I don't think joining a conference is the answer, but our poor play may force that upon us in the very near future. I don't see some savior coach bailing us out. Really, I think the only chance we have to get things back on track is for some unexpected player to EXPLODE, single-handedly carrying us to another level. Typically, that has to be a QB or maybe a RB. When I look at our roster, I don't see that player right now.

Realistically, I see us as at best an 8-9 win team in the foreseeable future. With no conference or bowl alliance, our post-season options will dwindle. I don't think we will be a BCS caliber team again. I'll still cheer, but I think the days of Notre Dame competing for a National Title are over. A very, very sad day of realization for me.


ian said...

I disagree. Teams always pop up, challenge for a title, and then disappear. Boise State, Oklahoma State, Cincinnati - none of those teams has/had elite NFL talent, but they had a system with committed players that stayed around for all 4 years and allowed them to compete. Notre Dame needs to allow a coach to establish a style and program, which I think Kelly is doing, and then keep him around to build that program. If it does that then every few years they just might get the right pieces to contend.

I think the model for ND needs to be Virginia Tech. Beamer has been there forever. They are consistently good, and occasionally very good. They focus on defense and special teams, but have an atrocious offense, and they recruit (local) players to fit their program, seldom landing heralded 5-star recruits. Even if the national recruiting dries up, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan are still more fertile than Virginia, where VT gets 75% of its recruits. It can be done, but it will take understanding and patience. I think Swarbrick gets this and, hopefully, the ND fan base can learn too.

Also, the whole conference thing may go the way of the dodo if the BCS restructures to eliminate automatic conference bids. If that's the case, ND is sitting pretty as an independent and look for others (Texas) to join suit.

Kevin said...

I agree with both of you. However, Notre Dame does have an alumni and fan base that lacks understanding or patience. They also feel that ND should constantly vie for National Championships. Why they feel ND should be in this class I don't know (recent history says we suck), but the result is that coaches typically get 5 years and then the "Next Big Thing" (i.e., Urban Meyer, Charlie Weis) comes around and we have to hire him. Because of Ara and Lou, ND coaches get 3 years to win a title, and then they are on borrowed time to the end of their 5-year contract. That is what will kill the ND program, and has killed it since Lou Holtz departed.

I'd like to see Kelly stick around for a while, because I think his point-a-minute offense will appeal to ND, and to players, and we'll just have to hope we can get some good defensive players every now and then.