Why Do People Hate Notre Dame Football?

(Photo by Notre Dame University/Getty Images)
(Photo by Notre Dame University/Getty Images) /

The Notre Dame football program is a national brand. It has fans from coast to coast, but a lot of haters as well. On a day when our nation celebrates its independence, we observe how the Irish being independent is a driving force behind some serious antipathy.

Notre Dame football is loved by many. You could argue that it is hated by more.

Like the times we live in both socially and politically, tangible and financial success are often rooted against by the masses. We are a nation of haters. We express displeasure at the success of others and celebrate when those we hate fail.

Historically — for what appears to be a variety of reasons — Notre Dame football might just be the most hated college football program of all time.

To get a better understanding of Notre Dame hate and where it comes from, I reached out to a couple of journalists from around the country. I asked them to give a quick answer to one question:

Why do people hate Notre Dame?

Mike Bainbridge, Athlon Sports (Covering the Michigan Wolverines)

For starters, being one of the big “brand” schools (Notre Dame, Ohio State, Alabama, etc) in college football will automatically make you one of the most hated. If you are not a fan of them, you dislike them…simple as that.

Just how fandom works in college football.

The decision to remain an independent in college football also plays a part in the perceived hatred for the Irish. Yes, they do play a number of ACC teams nowadays, and I’m sure there are plenty of extenuating circumstances as to why the Irish choose to stay an independent in one sport only. But most fans will just view it on a surface level and think that Notre Dame believes they are “too good” to have a conference affiliation.

There are certainly other reasons why the Irish are hated (NBC, Rudy, mascot), but this all comes with the territory of being one of the biggest brands in collegiate sports.

Shannon Sommers, The Ozone Radio Network (Covering the Ohio State Buckeyes)

One word: Independent.

Notre Dame is a team that most average college football fans feel present themselves like they think they are better than every other program. Most feel that by not playing in a conference and having their own contract on NBC they are living in the past…like Michigan.

Jim Hoffman, SBNation’s “On The Banks” (Covering the Rutgers Scarlet Knights)

There are a lot of reasons to dislike, feel antipathy, or even dare I say it, hate the school from South Bend. Let’s start with the history, shall we?

1. Anyone who grew up in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s heard about how wonderful Notre Dame was since childbirth. Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen, “win one for the Gipper,” ad nauseum. They have won 11 consensus national championships, but like the team from Ann Arbor, most of those were before the invention of the wheel.

2. They get to choose their opponents. As one of the few independent teams left in FBS football, until 2014 they didn’t HAVE to play anyone. Yes, they usually play strong teams, but they also play some real easy schedules, including games against UMass, Nevada, Temple (twice), Rice, Wake (twice), just to pick a few from the past five years.

As a nominal member of the ACC, they now are forced to schedule a minimum of five ACC teams, but why aren’t they a full member?

3. They are the only team in college football to have their own major network TV contract. Their (mostly undeserved) reputation means they have their OWN contract, while every other team who plays on the major networks get airplay as part of a conference (no, the Longhorn Network doesn’t count, kiddies).

4. Their fans have a superiority complex. For a team that hasn’t won a championship in 30 years, their fans act like they are a major player, despite a record that shows otherwise. I can go the rest of my life and never again hear about Rockne, Gipper, Touchdown Jesus, Rudy, or any of their crazy touchstones, and I’d be a happy guy. Go ahead, join a conference, and face the same teams every year like everyone else, and THEN we will see how they do.

Oliver Vandervoort, Site Manager, Husker Corner (covering the Nebraska Cornhuskers)

I’m old enough to remember the time before there was a ton of conference realignment and Notre Dame was completely untethered in football. They were so popular around the country that they managed to get their own television deal, which was something no other team in the country could even imagine getting.

That television deal seemed to come with a hype machine that always claimed the program was quite a bit better than it was.

The team might have won 8-9 or 10 games, but tended to do that thanks to beating up on Boston College (who was usually pretty bad), Stanford (who was awful at the time) USC (very mediocre back then) and then like Army and Navy who were both terrible.

They never had to really put any decent teams on the schedule but they were always in the top 10. When Bob Davie brought his incredibly mediocre Notre Dame team to town, it was quite fun being able to watch the Huskers knock the program down a peg or two.

Pete Mundo, KCMO 710 AM/103.7 FM in Kansas City/Heartland College Sports (Covering the Big 12 Conference)

It’s Notre Dame. Is that good enough?

A program and fan base that lives in the 1960’s and acts like anyone under the age of 80 gives a damn about the Four Horsemen.

Also, ever been to South Bend? Me either.

Next: 2019 Notre Dame Football Recruiting Update

And it’s not on my top 100 of places I’d like to go in the next 50 years. Every year is “the year”, until it isn’t. The arrogance of not joining a conference and then half-joining a conference. Really?

Only Notre Dame.