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Reilly’s Rant About Notre Dame A Sign Of Things To Come For The SEC

There are days in life when writers just don’t have anything to write.  The term “writer’s block?”  Yeah, it happens.  Trust me.

But instead of taking a day off — or just writing less, which is our answer to writer’s block around here — some writers cobble something together just for the sake of cobbling something together.  Rick Reilly’s piece on Notre Dame football for ESPN today seems to be just that kind of cobbled together something.  It looks like the well-written work of a messageboard troll.  And because half America hates Notre Dame, Reilly is just throwing red meat to a huge crowd.  He’s chumming shark-filled waters.  Today’s post will probably be his most-read perused column of the year and many, many will — appropriately enough — shout “amen” and “hallelujah” after reading it.

The gist of the piece is this: Reilly is tired of Notre Dame being treated like a special football program even though it hasn’t been recording special wins over the past couple of decades:

 

“From now on:

* Notre Dame no longer gets its own television deal with NBC.

* Notre Dame no longer gets to be the only school in the country with an inexplicable seat at the BCS decisions-making table.

* Notre Dame no longer gets its yearly undeserved hellahype in preseason rankings and preseason All-America teams.

In short, until Notre Dame football starts winning again, it’s Rice to me.”

 

Reilly just seems to grow angrier from there, ending with: “You flunked, Notre Dame.  Go back a grade.”

Before you applaud too loudly — and trust me, I’m no Fighting Irish fan myself — just remember that the nanosecond after some team finally dethrones the SEC as national football champ, articles like Reilly’s will be churned out all across America.  Only they’ll be telling Mike Slive and company to go to the back of the line.

In our country today, just as many people are sick of the SEC as are sick of Notre Dame.  Maybe more.

 

Reilly is trolling on a national scale.  Obviously that’s a system that works well.  This site and many others have linked to and Tweeted about Reilly’s demand that Notre Dame be dethroned.  And other writers do the same thing from time to time — pick a school or fanbase, crap all over it, wait for outraged messageboard posters to spread the word, and then sit back and let the pageviews and unique visitors roll in by the bazillion.

But in this case, Reilly might have been better off just simply stating, “I hate Notre Dame,” and leaving it at that.  Because that seems to be the point.  All the rest is poppycock with a side of balderdash.

No more deal with NBC?  Uh, why?  NBC partners with Notre Dame because Irish football — winning, losing, hated by millions or not — still draws big ratings.  You want capitalism?  Then hush about Notre Dame and NBC.  Sure the Irish mystique may be greater than the team’s most recent BCS rating, but that mystique is still very much alive and well.  NBC knows it.  NBC makes money off of it.

No seat for Notre Dame at the BCS table?  What about all the other crazy tie-ins involving the BCS?  Ask Boise State and Kansas State fans if they enjoyed having the Sugar Bowl pass them by for Virginia Tech last year.  And now that we’re finally getting rid of “AQ” and “non-AQ” status in our biggest bowl games, we’re going to kick off an era of “contract” and “access” bowls.  Just to make sure that some teams from some leagues are in while some teams from some other leagues are out.  It won’t have a thing to do with on-field production, mind you, just league affiliation.  Taking that into consideration, is the means in which Notre Dame is given a spot at the table any more random than the way other schools are selected or cast aside?

No more hellahype?  Well, that’s on Reilly and the rest of us in the media.  If I’m not mistaken, Reilly’s own ESPN has the Irish ranked #25 in the nation right now and a big video preview of Notre Dame sits right atop his column.  Anyone remember the old line: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game?”  Well, don’t hate the hyped, hate the hypist.

There’s this idea that Notre Dame is no longer special because the Irish no longer win bowl games and national crowns.  But as long as every conference in America would welcome Notre Dame with open arms — and they all would — the program is still special.  As long as one of the Big Three networks wants to hand the school a personalized television deal worth millions — the program is still special.  As long as the Orange Bowl wants to chat with Notre Dame about creating some form of partnership — the program is still special.

Yes, it’s just its history that makes it special, but I don’t hear anybody calling for Gettysburg National Military Park to be plowed under just because no one’s fought on it in a century and a half.  Independence Hall hasn’t been torn down due to a lack of important meetings.

 

This is an SEC-centric site.  And I write this piece about Notre Dame only to make you aware of what’s gonna come the SEC’s way when Southern Cal or Oklahoma or some other team boots a last-second field goal in a BCS title game someday.

“You flunked, SEC.  Now you’re just like everybody else.  Time to knock you down a notch.”

Blah, blah, and blah.  But it’s coming.  It’s coming ’cause haters gotta hate.

In truth, though, when the SEC does finally take one on the chin in a big game, it won’t make SEC football any less special for the millions of fans who follow the league’s teams each and every season.  It likely won’t have much of an impact on the conference’s television ratings week-in and week-out either.

Which happens to be the case with Notre Dame, too.

So you might want to think about that fact before you join the chorus of people praising Reilly’s smackdown of Notre Dame today.  The SEC will get the very same treatment at some point.  And if you don’t think it will be fair when that day comes, then you shouldn’t think it’s fair to kick the Fighting Irish around today.

 


39 comments
BT
BT

A non-SEC team winning the national title won't necessarily mean the end of SEC dominance of college football. It will still likely have the most teams in the top 25 at the end of the year, highest attendance figures, most lucrative TV deals and merchandising, best head-to-head bowl wins, and most draft picks at the end of the year. Again. SEC dominance is here to stay due to population demographics steadily moving in the South's favor in addition to unmatched support for college football. Who cares if Southern Cal wins this year? Let's take a look in ten years at how many more championships the SEC will have. I bet it will be at least 50%. As far as Notre Dame? I don't know one person in the South that cares about Notre Dame much less enough to hate them. They are simply a program that hasn't been elite for 20 years now. And it's likely not to stop anytime soon due to their suicidal scheduling (all to serve it's "brand"), and inability to get academically borderline kids into school. The SEC this year will be, and continue to be for a long time, the most dominant conference in America. Regardless of what single program outside the SEC does on a given year.

IronMan70
IronMan70

JP, Your comparison of ND and the SEC falls flat. Disregarding the obvious fallacy that it compares a conference to a team, it also ignores the obvious when speculating what the reaction will be "if" the SEC loses in the playoffs. If you want to make the comparison, the fact is that the reaction to an SEC whose teams have won 6 NCs in a row vs a ND that hasn't won one for 24 years cannot be ignored.

 

The fact is that ND is not in the same league as the SEC (or Big12, Big10, Pac12) and do not deserve a seat at the table, any more than any other individual team. Reilly is right and you are wrong.    

viciousdawg
viciousdawg

Notre Lame does need to stop getting special treatment. What's next? Are all Independents going to start getting special treatment like Notre Dame?

CraigFaith
CraigFaith

Actually this column is far more troll like than the original.  Reilly actually has a point about the BCS's special treatment of Notre Dame.  You, on the other hand, could have just said "I don't like what this column says" but instead over exaggerates the premise like any good troll is taught to do.   

amazingblue
amazingblue

Is this guy serious?  When the SEC doesn't win the national championship game they're going to become yesterday's mashed potatoes?  Yikes!

 

Notre Dame are elitists.  They think they are better than everyone else  and it doesn't matter if they win or lose.  They are ND.  They are too good to be merely a 'part' of something - like a conference..  They won't join a conference because when they finish fifth that will put a numerical stamp on their mediocrity.  Now they fall back on the "oh, we play a national schedule.  It's the toughest in the country"  which is supposed to somehow legitimizes their inability to beat any of the teams they schedule.

 

The Big Ten has pulled out the chair for ND three times (at least) in the last 20 years.  ND just won't sit down. Which is why I love it when ND goes 1-2 against the Big Ten every year.  And they have to schedule Purdue to accomplish that.

 

 

 

quad77
quad77

not sure why ppl hate ND i hate the ppl that enable ND to behave this way ND just take what is given to them

Irish eyes in Pa
Irish eyes in Pa

Thanks for restoring my faith in people!  I have not read the Reilly article, nor do I care to, but know all about this guy.  He never played any sport at a high level, but needs to tell everyone his opinion.  Being an ND fan I am obviously bias, but I can't stand the ignorance displayed by some when they talk about this subject.  Very rarely will you meet someone who says that they have no feeling (bad or good) about ND.  That's what makes your article so good.  You didn't hide your feelings and yet were able to express your point.  The SEC is king right now in College football - everyone knows that, but your article hits the nail on the head as times can change.  Mr Reilly and others just want ND to go away for some reason or another, but I believe "Relevance" is decided by ones own self - not an arrogant windbag looking for attention!  Best of luck with the football season.

dusto
dusto

what a dumb statement by rick. all these commentators and pundits who go on about ND being irrelevant then spend and summer writing about them cant see their own hypocrisy. If ND wernt relevant nobody would want to play them, watch them, invite them into conferences and write aricles about them. u may still hate ND but its not because they are irrelevant, in fact its the opposite.

MoKelly1
MoKelly1

I understand what you have written and you are 1000% correct what the same hate stuff will occur whenever the SEC does not win the National Championship. The issue (at least in my mind) is that Notre Dame is just one school vs. an entire Conference. I think it just gets to people that, at times, Notre Dame is treated like an entire Conference when they are one school.

 

But, like you point out, no one is holding a bazooka to NBC's head when they negotiate their deals with Notre Dame. So, it is all fair.

SEC Fan
SEC Fan

The SEC and Notre Dame have nothing to do with each other. To compare them is silly. It is one has-been team versus a full conference that is dominating in the present. no slippery slope here. That was a spot on article and is true of what should happen with Notre Dame. Period.

hayabusa342
hayabusa342

 When did the last time Notre Dame win the National Championship (1988) or ranked in the top 25 (17th, 2006)?

 

How long do we wait for Notre Dame to languish as a middle tier team before we decided that they are no longer an elite team anymore?

kentatm
kentatm

while they aren't Southern and would probably stick their nose up at the very idea, Notre Dame in the SEC would be a massive coup.  Suddenly the new SEC Network would pretty much be guaranteed to be picked up nationally in basic cable packages.  Of course it would never happen.

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @BT You must not know many people in the south.  Ask Alabama fans, especially old-time Alabama fans, what they think of ND.  For many, behind Auburn, ND is their favorite team to lose.  I find that odd.

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @viciousdawg Stop paying attention to ND and maybe it will happen.  Until haters stop caring, ND will always be in the spotlight.  Though I imagine that concept might be too difficult for you to understand.

Meghan
Meghan

 @CraigFaith I thought this was a great article. At least in this article, valid points were made a supported. Reilly didn't have anything of substance. I felt like I was talking to a drunk stranger in a bar who just hates ND when I read Reilly's piece of so called journalism.

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

Amazing blue is amazingly unaware of history... it is his Wolverines who originally blocked ND from joining the Big 10 way-back-when, when the Irish really wanted to join.  Typical arrogant Michigan Man with no regard for the facts whatsoever.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

amazingblue...

 

Wait and see.  

 

In case you missed it, after being against a playoff for half a century, college presidents just voted IN a playoff months after two SEC teams met in the national title game.  The hatred for the SEC is strong, just as it is for Notre Dame, the Yankees, the Celtics, the Cowboys... or any other dominant sports brand. 

 

The league will be crushed by writers from the Big East, ACC, Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12 states the split second it loses a BCS title game.

 

Just wait.  You'll see.

 

But that won't make the SEC any less special in reality.  Its fans and its history make it special.  Like Notre Dame.  Which was the rather obvious point of this piece.

 

Thanks for reading,John 

Meghan
Meghan

Actually ND wanted to join a the B1G back in the 90s and they said no. So why should ND say yes?

 

ND doesn't think they are better than everyone else any more than Michigan or Ohio State fans do. Its nothing special, people just like to hate on ND because they have their own TV contract and make money. Its funny because I don't know a fan in the country would wouldn't love to see their favorite college team on TV every week.

BT
BT

Relevance is determined by production and you know it. I bet most ND fans would trade every bit of extra media coverage for a BCS bowl win.

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

True... to compare them is kind of silly.  ND actually cares about the "student" part of student-athlete and doesn't engage in the nefarious practice of oversigning.

Meghan
Meghan

 @hayabusa342 Until people stop caring (which is never going to happen because ND is the yankees or cowboys of college football- you either love them or hate them)

Meghan
Meghan

 @kentatm ND would never join the SEC because ND wouldn't be able to compete with those schools. I'm not crapping on SEC schools, but ND can't accept the same students as the SEC does due to their higher admission standards for student athletes (which are still much below the norm at ND)

BT
BT

What do you mean no substance? The substance is what every non-Notre Dame fan or Catholic thinks of Notre Dame. That they don't deserve the attention they get. This myth that people daydream about hating Notre Dame is just that, a myth. Notre Dame is not the New York Yankees. The Yankees actually continue to win and truly are embroiled in a love/hate relationship with America. Who cares if Notre Dame games are on every weekend? ND university leadership is killing their football program by parlaying the ND "brand" while playing an impossible schedule.

amazingblue
amazingblue

 @Irish Bob 

 

Hi Irish,

 

When is "way-back-when?".  I have lived in or around Ann Arbor since the end of the Schembechler era.  I think I would have remembered that.  And you're telling me that ND actually wanted to join the Big Ten?  What are you talking about, the 1960s?

 

And who you callin' arrogant? :-)

 

And by the way I would love to see ND join the Big Ten.

 

Cheers. 

BT
BT

Actually, most fans want to see their teams consistently compete for championships. Besides, ESPN/SEC deal gives us nearly what NBC gives ND as far as being on TV. And don't you think ND fans would trade all this money, which doesn't sniff the pockets of the actual fans, for champioships? The old guard of ND is killing the football program...in production, not some old white man's pockets who lives in the past.

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @BT I would.  But you're dead wrong with how relevance is determined.  It's determined in many ways.  You obsessively commenting about a school that you don't cheer for or who hasn't done much on the field in the past 15 years lends creedence to this author's argument.  Do you do the same about Georgia Tech or Clemson?

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

@Meghan @kentatm Um, that’s a load of BS hooey. Maybe the Mississippi schools but Vandy, Georgia, Florida, A&M, Mizzou, and probably others to a lesser degree could all have student bodies on par with ND. That excuse doesn’t hold water.

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @amazingblue Of course Reilly is dead wrong.  He fell into the same trap that amateurs do--not being able to distinguish between relevance in general and on-field relevance.  It's such an easy distinction, it boggles me how so many do not get it.

 

I'm not convinced by any of your reasons for joining the Big 10.  NBC pays a similar amount--and even if it is slightly less (not sure)--ND certainly isn't hurting for money.  "BTN is available in virtually all of the major media markets."  Well, NBC is available in every market, major and minor.  That's every single one of ND's home games.  Pretty much every away game is on ABC or ESPN.  I live in PA and a few years ago couldn't get a PSU game because I didn't have BTN.  Why would ND want less TV access than they have now?

 

So now you're criticizing ND for not playing patsies?  And it shows they just care about themselves?  That's a new one.  I like playing marquee opponents across the country, though I think the schedule should be organized a bit better.  Most of our games already have a conference championship feel to them... they're sold out, on national TV, and against marquee opponents.  And if ND wins out with a schedule like this, they'll be a lock for playing in the national championship, conference game or not.

 

You like to say Notre Dame are elitists, that they think they are better than everyone else, that they don't care about anybody other than themselves... yet:  1)  You haven't even come close to giving a good reason why ND should surrender its independence to join a conference; and 2)  You know darn well if Michigan or pretty much any other school was in ND's shoes they would be doing the exact same thing that ND is doing.  What am I missing

amazingblue
amazingblue

 @Irish Bob The fact that there is such a spirited discussion about this on an SEC site answers the question about ND's relevance.  Reilly is dead wrong about that.

 

Why would ND want to join the Big 10?  There are a lot of reasons.  Last year the Big 10 Network paid out $22 million to each member school.  This years payout is expected to be $24-25 million.  It's carried nationally on Dish and Direct and regionally by all cable providers.  Look at the map - BTN is available in virtually all of the major media markets.  ND will use this as leverage when they negotiate their next contract with NBC.

 

Playing a conference championship game in Indianapolis in front of 80,000 for a chance to play in the national championship game, or at the least, a spot in the Rose Bowl, is a 'step down' that I think the Irish could survive.  ND can still play USC every year.  Yes, their schedule is incredible hard - and incredibly ridiculous.  It just shows that they don't care about anything except being Notre Dame.  And if that's what alums and fans want they should just stay where they are.  The rest of us will just have to get along without them.

 

 

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @amazingblue Amazing, you are correct that Meghan is incorrect that ND wanted to join the Big 10 in the 90's.  There was some interest, and the staff at ND voted in favor of joining, but ultimately the powers-that-be at ND decided no.  However, you are incorrect that Meghan started this.  As far as I can tell, she responded to you and your accusation that ND is elitist (boy, as a Michigan fan, if that's not the pot calling the kettle black).  Ancient history is still history, and the blatant fact of the matter is if Michigan wasn't so "elitist," ND would have been in the Big 10 for about 90 years now.  You are correct that the college landscape has changed, and the Big 10 would now bend over backwards for ND.  My question to you is why would ND want to join the Big 10?  Put yourself in ND's shoes.  What benefits to joining the Big 10 would compel them to surrender their independence?  You have to know that if Michigan was in ND's shoes they would be doing the exact same thing.

amazingblue
amazingblue

Okay Fred,

 

The point is there is a statute of limitations on ND complaining that "Oh, we tried to join but Michigan said no" (insert the sounds of a baby crying).  I don't care that ND wanted to joint the Big 10 in the l960s.  They have been formally invited three times since 1992 (When Penn State joined).

 

The college football landscape has changed so much it's almost unrecognizable from its 1960s version.  Stop crying about ancient history.  Meghan started this by saying that ND wanted to join the Big 10 in the '90s.  Not true.

 

Cheers 

Fred
Fred

"Yes, believe it or not, history does go back further than the late 1980's."  LOLLLLLL

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @amazingblue Hello amazing.  Yes, believe it or not, history does go back further than the late 1980's.  Google it or read John Kyrk's book (he's a Michigan fan who wrote about the ND/Michigan series).  Michigan was the first to thumb their noses, not the other way around.  In a sense, Michigan actually made ND the national brand that it is today.

 

I'd rather not join the Big 10, for the simple reason that I love to travel all over the country to see ND play.  That will be greatly diminished if we join any conference, particularly the Big 10.

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @amazingblue Yes, ND has made many horrible hiring decisions.  I think much of it has to do with whom the AD in charge was at the time for most of the hires (Kevin White).  The jury is still out on Brian Kelly, though I'm not sure him being wrapped way too tight is even close to the biggest reason why.  Afterall, he was wrapped pretty tight for the past 20 years, and he was very successful at his other stops.  Kids seemed to respond to to him there.

amazingblue
amazingblue

 @Irish Bob 

 

Why has ND made so many bad hiring decisions, Bob?  I mean almost forever.  They've had two good coaches (Devine and Holtz) since Parseghian.  All of them seemed to come out of left field and they all coached like it. I don't need to give you the list, but you have to agree.

 

When ND hired Brian Kelly I thought "this is the guy."  But after a couple years I'm not so sure.  The guy is wrapped way too tight.  I'm not sure kids respond to that.  And I wonder what the alums think of the guy. 

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

Obviously the reason is important, but that's clearly beyond you.  If it's coaching, scheduling, etc., those things can easily be fixed.  If it's more institutional (i.e. a blatant attempt by the hire-ups to emphasize football), then that's a lot harder.  And as far as has beens, I remember a time not too long ago that Alabama was down for a bit, with USC and Oklahoma down for longer periods.  They came back.  Calling a huge, traditional program a has been ususally turns out to be nothing more than wishful thinking.

SECfootball
SECfootball

 @Irish Bob  Then compare yourself with Vanderbilt, don't compare yourself with the SEC. ND is a has been, who cares what the reason is??

Irish Bob
Irish Bob

 @Meghan  @kentatm Disagree with Meghan to a degree, but GeoffDawg, it's hilarious that you actually compare Florida, A&M and Mizzou's admission standards (either in general or for football players) to ND's.  They aren't even close.  Even a modicum of research will tell you that.  Vandy is the only team in the SEC who is comparable.

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