Cheer cheer for old Notre Dame?
Lots of old time Irish subway alumni may be wondering about that right now. In an unofficially official move–the Irish were released as a potential BCS team on Tuesday.
What that meant was that the powers that be who run the BCS–primarily Big Ten commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany–felt that the Irish didn’t have enough oomph left to qualify for a BCS bowl–Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose or BCS title game.
The BCS rules that Notre Dame gets an automatic BCS spot if the Irish finish in the Top 8 in the final BCS rankings. With an 8-3 record and a No. 25 ranking that does seem impossible. But the BCS rules also state that Notre Dame is eligible for BCS selection with at least 9 regular season victories and a Top 14 BCS ranking.
With one regular season game at Stanford on Saturday remaining, the Irish technically could make the Top 14 by winning by say, a 55-24 margin over the Cardinal and having a series of upsets of the teams ranked ahead of them.
That seems unlikely, but at least possible. Still, it doesn’t matter. Notre Dame was released to make its own best deal with another bowl. Technically, the Irish could beat Stanford on Saturday and hold out for a week to see if they can climb to No. 14 and become BCS bowl eligible.
It is also possible that Notre Dame could finish the regular season with wins over the Pac-12 champion (Stanford or Arizona State) and the Big Ten champion (Michigan State, which will play Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game) and not qualify for a BCS slot.
There was a time when this was moot point. From the 1925 Rose Bowl until the 1970 Cotton Bowl, Notre Dame was like Harvard, choosing to pass up the opportunity to play beyond the regular season no matter how many games they won or lost.
That changed under Ara Parseghian, with a proviso that the Irish would only play in bowl games against higher ranked teams or against teams who could enhance ND’s rankings.
Those days are long gone. Notre Dame almost never passes on bowl games, no matter what itsr record. The last time the Irish said No to a bowl was in 2009 following a 6-6 (bowl eligible) season in which Charlie Weis was soon dismissed.
The year before the Irish were also 6-6 under Weis and went to Hawaii to play in a bowl game. I guess playing Hawaii on its home field was enough to “enhance the Irish’s rating.
Then we come to this season. Potentially, the Irish could be 9-3, coming off a win over Stanford. Notre Dame fans could take some measure of pridein that, although following last season’s 12-0 run to the No. 2 ranking before one sided loss to Alabama in the BCS title game, the come down to mortal status is severe.
Notre Dame wants to play in a bowl game. The Irish will play in a bowl game–in Detroit, Shreveport or New York City in such “”high prestige”" games as the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl against the MAC champion, the AdvoCare V Bowl against the No. 9 team from the ACC or the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium against the American East No. 3 team.
And those invitations will only come because the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 have more bowl commitments than they have bowl eligible teams, opening up a spot for someone like Notre Dame.
Such uncertainty about their bowl status as a non-BCS qualifier was one of the main reasons why Notre Dame officials agreed to a deal with the ACC in which they play five ACC games each season in exchange for being part of the ACC bowl rotation. That won’t start until next season, however.
Although the people in Shreveport are praying for a Notre Dame-Boston Catholic bowl game that is not likely to happen. Going to Shreveport is not the idea of the best of times for the subway alumni. Ditto that for Detroit, where not even the MAC championship team is likely to be available since Northern Illinois is on track to get its second straight BCS bid.
Which leaves New York City and Yankee Stadium. What better place for Subway Alumni?
The opponent might be Rutgers or Cincinnati (ND coach Brian Kelly’s old team). Or maybe even Louisville.
Still, it’s not the main act or the main stage in college football.
Cheer cheer for old Notre Dame?
Not so much this season.