Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2018

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

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6 JANUARY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FAN FORUM CHANGE OF STATUS From 4-8 to 9-3 is quite an im- provement. Let's not forget that Notre Dame is the only multiple-loss team in college football's top 25 that the teams that beat them are ranked higher than they are now. It is also the lone multiple-loss team in the top 25 where all the teams that beat them played for conference champion- ships: Georgia (SEC), Miami (ACC) and Stanford (Pac-12). I can't think of any other program in the country playing a schedule like this. I'm proud of the effort these kids made this season. Mike W. Gregg Via the Internet STATUS QUO REMAINS Let's all stop the "what a great turnaround" talk this year. Despite a 9-3 record, nothing has changed. Let's put facts to paper: Notre Dame had only four real opponents this year (besides Navy, which is al- ways an excuse) — Georgia, USC, Miami and Stanford. Hmm, what was our record against them? 1-3, with two blowouts. So I ask you, what has changed? It's easy to take candy from babies as the Irish did against inferior op- ponents, but what have they done against formidable opponents? The smoke and mirrors with a fa- vorable home schedule is misleading. Notre Dame under Brian Kelly can- not win on the road nor win versus top-10 teams. Time to end Kelly's mediocre era. Robert McCabe Woodcliff, N.J. PASS OR FAIL I don't think I have ever seen so many open receivers missed in one game than the loss at Stanford this sea- son. Against quality teams we cannot continually miss the routine throws. What next? Brandon Wimbush has two years of eligibility left. Will Brian Kelly stick with him? Will Phil Jurkovic be allowed to compete next year? Can accuracy and decision making really improve? They have not thus far. The Bob Davie and Lou Holtz re- gimes were brought down by a stub- bornness of staying with a QB. Had it not been for the injury to incoming sensation Ron Powlus in 1993, we would never have seen Kevin Mc- Dougal, or had a game of the century. I thought Kelly had improved as a coach much the same as Coach Mike Brey has over the years, but I'm not sure anymore. We are aver- aging about four or five losses a year under Kelly. If this is the new normal FROM THE WEBSITE Head coach Brian Kelly's comments about the team lacking juice for the Stan- ford regular-season finale — even though the Irish did lead 20-17 going into the fourth quarter — prompted a couple hundred responses on One of them even probed into the travel schedule as an independent: MagicInTheName: ND football schedules are minefields. ND traveled roughly 4,700 miles for its away games this year (5 away games. We'll have six in other years). Alabama traveled roughly 1,125 miles for its away games this year (only 4 true away games, plus a neutral site game). Almost half that was to go to Texas A&M. Otherwise, it traveled roughly 175 miles to Atlanta, 200 miles to Vanderbilt, 75 miles to Miss State, and 125 miles to Auburn. Average distance to travel for away games (roughly): ND: 950 miles. Alabama: 225 miles. We traveled farther to play Miami than Bama traveled all year. For our game against Stanford, we traveled double the amount Bama traveled all year. Ohio State traveled 1,900 miles in its five away games this regular season (380 average). It did not play a team on the road that finished ranked. In fact, the combined record of its away-game opponents this year was 28-32. We traveled the same distance to play Stanford that OSU traveled all year. These things matter. In 2018 we travel to California twice in a month period. Irish2X: This is the ultimate philosophical battle at ND right now. What is best for the team vs. what is best for the bottom line. The Shamrock Series is a moneymaker. At its most egregious, we played a "home game" at Fenway Park against BC, which was four miles from their campus. Right now, it is abundantly clear that making money is the primary function of the football program. What is so unforgivable to me is that if we cared to turn it into a consistent winner, the amount of money we would make would be astronomical. Yet, we are too scared of that risk. That's what we've been relegated to. Risk aversion over courage, when it was courage that put the program on the map in the first place. It's such a perversion of who we are and what has made us great. SFIrish: These stats are staggering, but with no conference and regional play, what can they do? It is tough. A slim possibility still of top 4, at least a NY6 bowl — and there's nothing to get excited about? Way to push all the right buttons, Coach. ThunderRd: Juxtapose how OSU responded to getting smacked around by Iowa with how ND responded at Miami. When Kelly teams crash they rarely ever recover. Bsmitty08: What's crazy is I think BK wins a national title at other power programs. KevinPS: This is a reason for learning to leverage big plays by special teams. Get some TDs off of returns and short fields off blocked kicks and you win another game or two, you overcome tiredness, etc. See ND from 1988-1993. This is the next frontier for Kelly to conquer. Irishwolfpack: We have, and recruit, many young men who don't live and die for football. It's truly great that ND athletes are well rounded and have multiple pathways to success. Unfortunately for the football program, this often means a large number of players don't give their all to winning. SDS123: I'm sure they brought in their super-duper sports psychologist. Sometimes players need to find that fire on their own. NDrulzinWV: Then join a conference! You can't have it both ways. Want to be an Independent — we are going to have to schedule tough home and homes. We want additional bowl tie ins, so we partially agree to join the ACC. We have to schedule around what they give us. We can't complain about the miles we travel when we don't want to join a conference. It's the price we pay. The Fighting Irish appear to be headed in the right direction after improving from 4-8 in 2016 to 9-3 in 2017, but some fans were left wanting more after frustrating losses to marquee oppo- nents such as Georgia. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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