Notre Dame football: Eyeing big-picture view
Operators are standing by? ...
Before the game Saturday night and during the breaks, the gargantuan video boards at FedExField in Landover, Md., blasted positive propaganda to the already pro-ND crowd that fell about 12,000 fannies short of a sell-out in the 82,000-seat facility.
Irish coach Brian Kelly continued the feel-good theme in his postgame postmortem of ND’s 45-21 dissection of Maryland, with a gangly list of heroes to discuss. That, and the fact his new world order was apparently sinking in.
Ten games into season two of the regime?
“I think I’ve probably worn this out, but we’re in the same process that I’ve been in at every job that I’ve had,” Kelly delineated Sunday of the time frame. “We’re doing the same things. I’m seeing the same kinds of results.
“They don't always equal wins, but we're clearly moving in the right direction with our football players and our football program. And sometimes it's disappointing and painful, but I would tell you that this is a very similar feeling that I've had before.”
For the most part, though, Kelly reverted to the little picture Saturday night and again Sunday, barely acknowledging his team’s ascent into the AP top 25 and the coaches’ poll for the first time since the preseason versions of those respective rankings.
Presumably, the green jerseys from the Maryland game, the shamrocked helmets, perhaps all those white shoes and certainly anything broader than thoughts of Saturday’s Senior Day matchup between the Irish (7-3) and Boston College (3-7) are secured in a storage locker somewhere.
The fun part about being on the outside looking in is you can break the rules. Here’s a big-picture view with two regular-season games remaining.
1. Where is Notre Dame headed in the short term? All signs point to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 29 against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.
Scouts from the bowl were happily passing out collector’s pins, bearing the bowl’s logo, to the media Saturday night in Landover.
The Irish are competing with the Big East for the spot, and an 8-4 record likely gets it done, no matter what the Big East side of the equation looks like.
Five teams are within one game in the loss column for the league’s inside track to a BCS berth, and three of those already have five overall losses. Perhaps the most attractive of the Big East offerings for the Champs slot, West Virginia (7-3), just played in the bowl last season, making the Mountaineers less palatable.
For the uber-optimistic, the Irish must climb from completely out of the top 25 of the BCS standings to at least 14th over the next three Saturdays (and they only play twice) to be considered.
Stanford losing to Oregon and falling to ninth in the BCS likely made the slimmest of best-case scenarios now non-existent.
2. Where is Notre Dame headed in the long term? This is what the fan base tries to glean from the five-times-a-week press conferences, from the lopsided Maryland verdict, from player tweets on Twitter.
This is what matters most - not how much Boston College blitzes, not whether Seven Nation Army should be played on third down, not the newest team slogan.
There are so many factors in play that have no answers yet: