For the past few days, I've noticed an article ("Stop This Crazy Notre Dame, Big Ten Talk") by Terence Moore showing up in our AOL Fanhouse widget. Unable to resist any longer, I clicked through this morning and you'll never believe what I found: a self-important Notre Dame fan living in the past and cluelessly bitching about the present and future*.
I know, I know. Try to breathe. We're all shocked.
Moore addresses the "whiners" (there's some variant of "whiner" or "whining" no less than 13 times in this piece) who believe Notre Dame should give up on their independence and join a conference. Or more specifically:
[E]very spring about this time, the wondering turns to whining over why Notre Dame won't do the ridiculous by joining the Big Ten, the Big East, the MAC, the Sun Belt or some other conference.
The whining goes like this: Don't those silly folks around the Golden Dome know they should do this conference thing for their own good? And, yes, the Fighting Irish have survived as an independent in football for 124 seasons, but they need to join a conference, because -- well, they just need to.
Normally, we would collectively let this sort of garbage slide (although I think the MAC and Notre Dame would be a terrific idea in terms of competitiveness), but the article is so replete with arrogance, delusion, and other such atrocities that it leaves but one option -- the mini-FJM treatment. Let us begin.
Why won't they listen?
Can't they see we're getting angry?
Who do they think they are?
Oh, we know who you are. A proud, wounded football program that is egregiously overrated practically every August and has compiled the 39th best winning percentage in major college football over the past decade. Yeah. We're aware. The question is, do Notre Dame fans realize who they are?
Quack, quack, quack -- you know, as in the Penguin from Batman fame -- with the whiners suggesting that if Notre Dame doesn't join a conference soon, they will hold their breaths until they turn Fighting Irish blue then gold.
It sounds like jealousy to me.
Of course it does! It's the ingrained response from any Notre Dame fan to the statement, "hey, uh, you guys kind of suck now, don't you?" OH YEAH WELL OUR PLAYERS TAKE CALCULUS. Great. You know what everybody is truly jealous of? Blowing a 13-point fourth quarter lead at home to a worthless 3-9 team that earlier lost to Akron by two touchdowns:
"I couldn't agree with you more on that," said Lou Holtz, who should know as Notre Dame's last coaching icon for 11 seasons through 1996. Now, Holtz hears the whiners on a regular basis as a college football analyst for ESPN, and he added, "I tell you what, Notre Dame is the only school in the country that can go into the state of California and compete with Southern Cal for a prospect.
"They can go into Texas and compete with the University of Texas. They can go into Ohio and compete with Ohio State. They can go anywhere in the country and have a 50-50 chance to defeat the in-state school who happens to be recruiting."
Get the picture?
Totally! And look what all of those recruiting advantages have reaped! Even though the Tom Lemmings of the world are happy to bump a one-armed, peg-legged carnival accident victim to a five-star ranking for just considering Notre Dame, it's hard to argue against Notre Dame's recruiting ability. South Bend: Where Overhyped Recruits Achieve Total Obscurity.
(The rest of us? JELLUS.)
If you're among the whiners, and if Notre Dame is part of somebody's conference, you're thinking that your favorite team wouldn't have to worry about the Irish owning such a recruiting advantage. You're thinking that Notre Dame would be viewed like everybody else, and that's really what this is about: The whiners want Notre Dame to join a conference so Notre Dame can be like everybody else.
It's just that Notre Dame isn't like everybody else, because Notre Dame doesn't have to be, and the whiners can't stand it.
No, people who want Notre Dame to join their conference (Big Ten, MAC, Patriot League, whatever) are interested in a few things, none of which have anything to do with dragging Notre Dame up to the level of, say, Michigan State. Here's a hint -- everybody likes beating Notre Dame. It's not because we're jealous. It's because nobody likes you. And that's not because we're jealous. It's because you're douchebags.
Also, you could make our conference (and yourselves!) a little extra money. That's nice, too.
A little further along, Moore writes:
For one, the whiners are envious of Notre Dame's wealth, and they either know or couldn't care less that the Irish would take a pay cut in a conference.
There is the uniqueness that Notre Dame brings as an independent with a storied name, which led to its NBC television contract that began in the early 1990s and runs through 2015. I mean, the audacity of it all, say the whiners, ignoring the fact that they are among the reasons Notre Dame has such a lucrative deal. That's because Notre Dame is the only team that can generate ratings on a regular basis due to the slew of those who hate them (as in the whiners) and love them (as in a bunch of folks).
Well, when NBC makes an investment in sports, it's always a good deal. We know that already. But you're arguing that Notre Dame is important and awesome because they have a comfy contract, Denny Neagle agrees!
(And I hate to be the one breaking this news, but when it comes to Notre Dame football, not as many people care as you might think.)
There also is that Bowl Championship Series agreement with special provisions for Notre Dame. First, all BCS decisions are made by the commissioners of the 11 Division 1-A conferences -- and Notre Dame. Second, while other BCS members must split the revenue from their bowl games with everybody in their conference, Notre Dame gives everything to Notre Dame.
More specifically, the Irish get $4.5 million whenever they play in a BCS game, and they get $1.3 million when they don't. So the BCS system actually is encouraging Notre Dame to stay independent. The same goes for the Big East that includes Notre Dame in its various bowl scenarios when the Irish aren't BCS-bound.
So, $1.3 million for 70-80% of football seasons, with an occasional BCS bump (Notre Dame appeared in the 2001 and 2006 Fiesta Bowls and the 2007 Sugar Bowl, WITH AWESOME RESULTS). Big Ten teams, with their equal split of bowl proceeds after expenses, receive around $2.2 million annually. JELLUS AGAIN.
In addition to that money thing, you have that tradition thing.
[LONG, YAWNWORTH BLABBERING ABOUT A BUNCH OF DEAD PEOPLE NOBODY HAS CARED ABOUT IN 45 YEARS.]
With a conference schedule, most of those "traditional" games would vanish for Notre Dame, including the rivalry with Southern Cal that has been around since 1926. You just know that, as a Big Ten member, Notre Dame wouldn't have a steady dose of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, a couple of other significant teams that it is known to play from time to time, and Southern Cal.
Now, I'm not a mathematician, but let's run a few numbers. Twelve regular season games, eight conference games. That leaves four. I'm pretty sure one of those four could still be against USC. Navy, too. Add in two more home games (I hear the Merchant Marines are available!) and there's a damned fine schedule.
Finally, there is the non-athletic side to this. In the early 1990s, when the Big Ten had another push to grab the Irish, university officials determined that Notre Dame wasn't an academic match with that conference -- or any other.
Now that Notre Dame is a world leader in nanotechnology, such an academic mismatch is even more striking in the eyes of Notre Dame officials.
Nobody's going to pretend that Notre Dame is some sort of Hollywood Upstairs Medical College, but let's be serious here. Academic concerns from Notre Dame fans, especially with regard to Big Ten universities, are predominantly matters of ethics and religion, not quality of research.
Okay, let's land this puppy.
"Each administration at Notre Dame makes certain decisions, and when I was at Notre Dame under Father [Theodore] Hesburgh, their philosophy was that we we're not going to go into a conference, because we were a national school," Holtz said. "Our alumni were from all over the country. We had fans all over the country, and consequently, we had obligation to play all over the country to play the very best. We played the Michigans, the Michigan States and the Purdues. But we also played Tennessee.
"We played Texas. We played Florida State. We played Miami. We played Ohio State. We played Washington. We played all over the country, and we had fans all over the country, and we could not fulfill that by just playing in the Big Ten, which basically just makes you a regional school."
Notre Dame, a regional school?
That would satisfy the whiners, but not Notre Dame.
Not now, not ever.
Yeah, but you don't play the very best from coast to coast. Nobody does anymore. You play USC, great. There's also Army, Air Force, Maryland, Syracuse, Rutgers, Purdue, Washington State, Stanford, and Washington. No, there are no Youngstown States on that list, but you won't find any Florida or Texas level teams, either.
The real truth is that Notre Dame used to be one of the truly national schools, but that isn't the case anymore because everybody of consequence plays on national television every weekend. If you're living in Seattle, you'll see Michigan and Ohio State at 9 a.m. If you're on the east coast, you'll still find a Southern Cal game. Cable and satellite have leveled the playing field in terms of television exposure, so people who used to happen upon a Notre Dame game 15 years ago and thought, "well, it's the only game on right now," now have practically limitless other viewing options at their disposal.
And that fact doesn't make the "whiners" happy, because they mostly don't spend more than a few minutes thinking about Notre Dame on any autumn Saturday. It makes all college football fans happy, because they don't have to watch Notre Dame if they don't feel like it. Notre Dame isn't in any jeopardy of being regionalized, because the rest of the big programs have already been nationalized.
It's fair to say that many Big Ten fans would love to have Notre Dame in the conference. I know I would. It's fun to play Notre Dame! The hardest part of this process for Notre Dame fans is they're now experiencing the death throes of their former relevance. The college football world stopped revolving around South Bend many years ago, despite the pedestrian urges of the media to use the phrase "wake up the echoes" whenever Notre Dame starts the season 2-0.
The reality is, Notre Dame needs us -- all of us, really -- more than we need them. Most of us would be thrilled to have Notre Dame in the Big Ten, both for our personal enjoyment and the continued financial prosperity of the conference. But if they're not interested, whatever, we'll go get Rutgers, Missouri, or Hollywood Upstairs Medical College as the 12th member and happily move on with life.
* - Also, he recently wrote multiple articles complaining about the "insufferable" Duke basketball program, which is 100% pure Colombian high-larious.