How Worried Should We Be About The State Of Notre Dame Football?


Where does Notre Dame go from here? It seems it was only weeks ago we were disappointed with the initial No. 10 ranking in the CFP poll. Spirits were high coming off a near win against the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles, and all seemed right in Fighting Irish land. Now we’re intrigued with the men’s and women’s basketball teams because the Irish football program seems to have taken a giant step backwards, and some can’t stomach to watch it. But is it really that bad?

Entering this season, the team became shrouded in questions with the suspension of players for academic violation investigations. Several of the named few looked to be key pieces for coach Brian Kelly‘s team, especially top returning receiver Davaris Daniels. Everett Golson was back after his academic hiccup, but would he be a man among boys? Or would the year off show itself?

Early on it seemed the Irish would overcome the loss of the suspended players, and Golson’s star shined bright in the Notre Dame sky. A shellacking of rival Michigan had fans not only excited for the win in what could be the last game between the two schools in the foreseeable future , but the Irish’s shot at the new College Playoff System.

More from Opinion

The schedule seemed to favor Notre Dame’s chances, with Florida State, Stanford, Arizona State and USC on the schedule. Even North Carolina was a preseason top 25 team. The Irish cruised through their first six, and with the game at Florida State looming, this was the chance to move into the spotlight.

But that wasn’t to be the case, as we all know how that game finished. It was the turning point in the season, as the Irish never seemed to recover from the heartache of the loss. Injuries began to riddle the team, especially on the defense. A team that looked so solid on that side of the ball finished by allowing 30+ points in their last seven games. Can it be attributed to the loss of Bob Diaco? No one ever seemed to mention it, as the injuries piled up, but it’s very possible.

While Golson almost lead them to victory in the FSU game, he was a big part of the second half collapse, but it started well before then. The turnovers just kept coming. Mistake after mistake, often unforced. But with an untested but confident Malik Zaire on the bench, Kelly stuck it out with Golson. Until the second quarter of the USC game. Enough was enough. But by then, it wasn’t just about Golson. Or the defensive injuries. It’s about a team that didn’t seem to have any fire in them, any fight following that tough loss in Tallahassee.

The coaches, including Kelly need to shoulder much of the blame. Poor calls doomed the Irish in recent contests. And Kelly is too good a coach to have made some of the errors that he did. When he was hired, my belief was that if he couldn’t get the program turned around, it was doomed for mediocrity.

But he did. Kelly has made a mark on this University and it’s football team. Calls for his job are unwarranted. Who do you think they would hire? Is Lou Holtz looking to come out of retirement and I hadn’t heard?

The Irish will bounceback next season, this I’m sure of. Many true freshmen had the chance to step on the field this year. And while they were wildly unprepared now, that won’t be the case in 2015. Brian Van Gorder now has a season under his belt in college to make adjustments, and Kelly too must make adjustments. The Irish offense was good, but not good enough to do whatever it wanted. (See Arizona State game. Add hot reads Kelly)

The Irish will soon be playing in some oddly sponsored bowl well before New Year’s Day. But that’s fine. Let’s get all this bad out before the New Year, start over fresh.