Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 109 of 111

THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI O ver the past 21 football cam‑ paigns from 1994‑2014, Notre Dame has had: • Two seasons where it finished in the Associated Press top 10 (No. 9 in 2005 and No. 4 in 2012). • One year where it legitimately had a sniff at the national title (playing in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game). • Zero finishes where it won a ma‑ jor bowl game, while 33 other schools have done so during that time. Consequently, after Notre Dame had built the most successful college foot‑ ball program through the 20th century that was highlighted by 11 consensus national titles, we often get the follow‑ ing question: What now defines a suc‑ cessful Fighting Irish football season? Has the college football landscape changed so much the past two de‑ cades, and the bar gradually dipped enough, that a "solid" 9‑3 season and a minor bowl win is much closer to a peak than it is a valley? Has a new generation of Notre Dame faithful over the past 21 years come to accept the psychological term "learned helplessness" and that the Fighting Irish will not experience the kind of extended dominance they had during its halcyon days? This is a topic this column touched on nearly 30 years ago (and many times since then), after head coach Lou Holtz was hired by Notre Dame in November 1985. The Fighting Irish had just gone through a five‑year 30‑26‑1 struggle with no top‑25 finishes. Thus, we outlined what we believed what should be realistic expectations over a five‑year period with Holtz. That was not to say it couldn't be better, but this was the base expecta‑ tion. Everything else would be "extra credit." • Allow for one clunker season, which we defined as at least a five‑loss campaign. This can happen to most A Realistic Five-Year Measuring Stick When Notre Dame's program is really humming like it was under Lou Holtz from 1988-93, regular top-10 contention is in the works. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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