College football is better when Notre Dame is good, in fact, there’s no team that the phrase is more relevant to than Notre Dame.
There are a ton of college football programs that people will tell you, “College football is better when insert team here is good.” There are also a lot of cases where this is true. Texas, while easy to joke about, makes college football exciting. The same is true for a program like Miami.
However, there is no program for whom this is more true than Notre Dame.
There’s a simple reason for this, and it isn’t just that we are all used to Notre Dame being good. It’s because there is no program more divisive than Notre Dame. Fans look at the gold helmets, Touchdown Jesus, and those eleven national titles and see it through lenses of their own biases.
Some see it all as a bastion of college football tradition, high standards, and a strong culture both on and off the field. Others see arrogance and a program that can’t let go of a far off past.
You love it or you hate it. There are very few who don’t have some opinion on Notre Dame.
This means, when Notre Dame is playing meaningful, primetime games there will be more eyes on them than anyone else. Even if there is a game with higher-ranked teams, more people will tune in to watch Notre Dame play.
They want to see Notre Dame win. They want to see Notre Dame lose. The outcome affects more people than the outcome of a random game that happens to be on that week. It matters more than a ranked match-up, save for one that directly impacts the National Championship Game.
Notre Dame stands for tradition, academics, and excellence. They do this while also standing on the outside of college football’s mainstream. They proudly stay Independent. Life would be easier in a conference, but it matters to the program’s pride that it holds onto its Independence.
By becoming a national program, Notre Dame exposed itself to the entire nation generations before TV exposure has helped most programs to market themselves as a national brand. This has left Notre Dame as the program most deeply ingrained in the national consciousness of college football.
It’s because of what Notre Dame stands for that they divide fans so deeply, and it’s because they inspire so much passion that college football is best when Notre Dame is good. In fact, there’s no team more important to the college football product as a whole than the Irish.