Upon Further Review
5:14 PM EDT, May 31, 2011
The final week of May is not usually reserved for lots of college football talk. But thanks to the transgressions of USC & Ohio State, the college football landscape changed a lot over the past seven days. And Notre Dame stands to be one of the programs that benefits.
Memorial Day has never been so memorable for a college football fan. Jim Tressel’s resignation at Ohio State, amidst a sea of scandal, could signal the start of a recession for Buckeye football. Under Tressel, Ohio State has been one of the two or three premier programs in college football over the past decade. (106-22 in ten seasons, with 7 BCS bowl appearances). But the coach is gone. Star QB Terrelle Pryor might be too, now that the NCAA is investigating whether Pryor received several improper benefits during his first three years as a Buckeye. All of this could very well add up to major penalties levied by the NCAA. Just ask USC.
Speaking of USC, just last Thursday the NCAA denied the Trojans appeal, upholding all of the penalties and infractions it levied upon the program, for improper benefits given to Reggie Bush. USC will lose thirty scholarships over the next three years, and won’t be eligible to play in a bowl game this season. Perhaps the most damaging, is that all of their current players will be allowed to transfer without penalty, as a result of this.
Which brings me to the point of this column:
Ohio State & USC, two of the standards in college football this past decade, are getting worse. And Notre Dame is getting better.
The uncertainty surrounding Ohio State could lead to great recruiting gains for Notre Dame in the coming years. Bob Wieneke of the South Bend Tribune explains why.
While still talented, USC no longer stands menacingly as the immovable force on the Irish schedule, as Notre Dame proved last year.
And if Notre Dame can get off to a good start in September, I’m beginning to think that 2011 could be a very good year for Irish faithful. Brian Kelly should take a ton of momentum into this season. The Irish won the last four games of 2010, including wins against two of the better teams they faced. Kelly already has nine top level recruits committed for next year. He’ll have options at QB. And while I never put much stock in pre-season polls (Notre Dame is showing up anywhere between 6th and 19th in the various pre-season publications), it’s never a bad sign to be a consensus Top 20 pick…and rising at that.
College football is cyclical. Programs take turns at the top, and away from the top. Miami, Oklahoma, Alabama, Ohio State & USC are all schools that have been to the top of the mountain…fallen off…and climbed all the way back to the top. It’s been a long time since Notre Dame has been anywhere near the top of that mountain. But they’re climbing fast.
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