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.
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?