College football is a spectacle shared and loved by many. Our passion for the game is one of the reasons why we debate the factors of the sport and continue to argue even when we know the other party absolutely will not be swayed. Hell, it's why I write on this site so much. Much of the debate that swirls around the game is relative. With so many teams, it is very difficult to determine a national champion and schools must decide which way is the best way for their team to reach that illustrious national championship level.
The debate over whether Notre Dame should be ranked in the preseason has quickly become one of those debates. The Fighting Irish has chosen the easy way out. Look at their schedule
. There is not a single team in the current Top 25 except USC. "But wait!," their AD cries out,
"look at the Top 35 teams!" Well I don't care about the Top 35. Actually I don't even care about rankings. What does matter is who your team plays. Notre Dame plays nobody
and will probably get away with it, which pisses me off.
Why is Notre Dame being lauded this year? Because they are returning a high number of starters (from last year's great season) and their schedule is weak. Members of the mainstream media acknowledge the weak schedule but they don't chastise it. Instead, I hear: "I ranked Notre Dame because I project them to win at least 9 games this year due to its weak schedule." As frustrating as that statement is to the non-Irish fan, that statement is true. The same frustration can be applied to the Florida Gators. The Gators have not exactly been criticized about their schedule, only laughed at because of it
. For 2009, the Gators will play the powerhouses of Charleston Southern, Troy, and Florida International. That schedule reeks of National Championship contender because it's so easy.
The Irish will probably be favored in at least 10 of their games this year, and if it all goes as hoped for the Irish and their fans, 10 wins puts them in a BCS bid automatically which is what everyone wants. The rise to a BCS game brings in more exposure, more cash, and a greater swagger. What does Notre Dame's actions say about college football? They say that money talks and that winning (duh), no matter the quality of the opponent, is all that matters. Don't blow this off because I pointed out the obvious. But I am trying to emphasize the complete lack of competition that these "great" teams face and purposefully schedule. The Irish and the Gators should not have bragging rights about beating Nevada and Charleston Southern but they don't need it in today's world. They aren't shamed about paying a team for the right to curb stomp them, rather they pump their chest and yell out for the world to see how good they look. They play bad teams, beat them, and move up in the eyes of the public without really proving themselves.
Why is the SEC so great? Because it plays cupcakes at home, dominates them and then they beat each other in conference. Is that what makes a good team? Not testing yourself? Georgia Tech is not immune to this either. The Jacksonville State game is boring, dull and has no redeeming qualities about it whatsoever. But why do we do it? Because we can. Because everyone else does. Because we want that win which puts us one step closer to the ultimate goal.
Teams are not rewarded for playing a tough team to the wire and losing at the end. Teams are rewarded for winning no matter the opponent. There is something seriously wrong with that mentality and I don't know how to fix it or even if it can be fixed. If Notre Dame succeeds this year because it purposefully lowered its schedule difficulty, it will be celebrated as a great Notre Dame team and Charlie Weiss will get the praise that he so desperately needs. But yet will they really be that good?