BOZICH | Notre Dame football should not be bullied into joining - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Notre Dame football should not be bullied into joining a conference

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Hissing at Notre Dame football is like howling at the Yankees, spitting at the Cowboys or kicking the Lakers. If you’re not a fan, Notre Dame bashing is something you’re compelled to try.

Hissing is one thing. Telling Notre Dame how to do its business is another.

Crying that the Irish should be forced to compete in a conference as a football program has become The Gripe of the Month during these overbaked media days the Super Five leagues stage to fill the mid-summer quiet.

Gary Pinkel, the Missouri coach whose team lost to Indiana last season, started the bullying the other day.

"Give Notre Dame a year to join a league," Pinkel barked. "They don’t have independents in the NFL."

Dabo Swinney coaches at Clemson. His Tigers host the Irish Oct. 3. Swinney moved the chains by arguing the Irish should be forced to join a league or play a 13th game. Swinney’s gripe is the best teams from the ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 must play a 13th game in the league championship game.

Looking for his fading fastball, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier joined the Punk Notre Dame club several years ago.

Here is the thing bugging Pinkel, Swinney, Spurrier and other critics:

Notre Dame is not Missouri.

Notre Dame is not Clemson.

Notre Dame is not South Carolina.

I applaud the Irish for not joining a conference. The conferences created by the recent blast of testosterone-fueled expansion shredded tradition while giving us new and riveting rivalries like Syracuse and Wake Forest (ACC), West Virginia vs. Iowa State (Big 12), Indiana vs. Rutgers (Big Ten), Utah vs. USC (Pac 12) and Missouri vs. Florida (SEC).

Credit to Notre Dame and its shrewd athletic director Jack Swarbrick for not endorsing that nonsense.

The Irish have a national television contract with NBC. The Irish fill all 80,795 seats in their stadium whenever they open the historic gates. The Irish have tradition that has inspired books, movies, magazine covers and ticket scalpers wherever they play.

One more thing: Notre Dame delivers a graduation rate that should make Pinkel, Swinney and Spurrier blush.

The school has ranked first in the NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for eight consecutive seasons. There is no football dormitory at Notre Dame.

I did not say Notre Dame was flawless. Not at all. The Irish have removed multiple players from the team in recent seasons for serious academic misdeeds. The occasional police blotter issues pop up. Coaches have been run out of South Bend with big money remaining on ridiculous contracts. (Yes, I’m talking about Charlie Weis.)

But overall Notre Dame has tried to avoid always following the crowd. Good for Notre Dame. Pinkel said they don’t have independents in the NFL, but college football is not supposed to be the NFL.

The current wave of Notre Dame bashing is fueled by a fear that the Irish have a short cut to the four-team playoff.

They don’t – not if you believe in the process created to pick the playoff teams. The playoff committee is balanced by representatives from around the nation.

The committee replaced the BCS computer system a year ago. The members watched, studied, shuffled teams and picked the four teams they believed were most deserving. There was a debate about including Ohio State over Baylor or TCU, but there will always be a debate.

The only committee member with Notre Dame ties is Tyrone Willingham. He was bounced from the ND football job after three seasons. Hard to imagine Willingham doing the Fighting Irish a solid.

The lack of a 13th game?

Let’s be real, Dabo. The ACC and other leagues didn’t create conference championship games to determine a legitimate champion. They were created as television inventory to help head coaches earn $3 million while exposing players to 60 bonus minutes of injury risk.

Phil Steele’s College Football Yearbook ranks the toughest schedules for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Last season Notre Dame’s schedule ranked 13th, tougher than Missouri (38th), Clemson (62nd; South Carolina State? Really, Dabo?) and South Carolina (30th).

This season Notre Dame opens with a visit from Texas. Six ACC teams, including Clemson and Top 25 Georgia Tech, sit on the ND schedule. The annual USC game is booked for South Bend on Oct. 17. The Irish will play Boston College at Fenway Park. Notre Dame finishes its season at Stanford Nov. 28.

What does Steele say about that?

He ranks that schedule 24th in difficulty. That’s a tad tougher than Missouri (50th) and Clemson (48th) but not as difficult as South Carolina (15th).

Michigan State returns to the Notre Dame schedule next season, Georgia in 2017, Florida State in 2018 … well, you get the picture. Notre Dame is not afraid of tough games, although I do believe Michigan should return to the ND schedule.

That’s hardly a shortcut to the playoff, a destination that is possible for the Irish this season with a team that figures to begin the season ranked in the Top 15.

Doing it their way – not the way Gary Pinkel, Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier want Notre Dame to do it.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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