Mike Strange: Is Notre Dame the cure for SEC Fatigue?

Mike Strange
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly pose with The Coaches' Trophy during a news conference for the BCS National Championship college football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly pose with The Coaches' Trophy during a news conference for the BCS National Championship college football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The 2012 college football season climaxes tonight in Miami with a clash of titans and a nagging dilemma.

For a nation suffering from unrelenting SEC Fatigue, the only possible cure is opening the door to a potential return of Notre Dame Fatigue.

Notre Dame Fatigue was thought to have been eradicated for at least two decades. It was, however, once a virulent affliction.

All those national championships (8, 11, 13 or 21 depending on the reference source). All those Heisman Trophies (an undisputed and unprecedented seven).

All those sidewalk alumni from Coney Island to Alcatraz Island. All those movies (Knute and the Gipper, Rudy).

It used to be you couldn't turn around in the fall without getting Notre Dame crammed down your throat. It helped having the Notre Dame Broadcasting Company, otherwise known as NBC.

But there hasn't been a Heisman since 1987 or a title since 1988. Notre Dame became just another team, like Minnesota or Clemson.

Since Lou Holtz left South Bend 16 years ago, Touchdown Jesus has gazed down from the wall of the Hesburgh Library upon some lean times. Neither Bob Davie, Ty Willingham nor Charlie Weis could wake up the echoes. Forget titles, Notre Dame didn't win a bowl game from 1993 until 2008.

Now, after a pair of 8-5 seasons, Brian Kelly has the Irish 12-0 and on the brink of returning to the summit.

All he has to do is beat Nick Saban and Alabama. Good luck with that.

The Crimson Tide is a solid favorite to claim the school's third title in four years. If that happens, SEC Fatigue will be superseded by Alabama Fatigue.

An Alabama win would be seven BCS championships in a row and eight in 10 years for the SEC. Last month, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M became the SEC's fourth Heisman Trophy winner in six years.

College football lovers from Syracuse to Seattle yearn to see the SEC siege lifted. Unlike last year when Alabama humiliated LSU in the title game, tonight there is at least a chance.

And in our neck of the woods, folks are spared the devil's bargain of choosing between historic nemesis Alabama and the team that was picked No. 1 in the preseason polls.

Lane Kiffin and Southern Cal were last seen slinking off into the chilly El Paso night.

So here is your choice :

Accept SEC Fatigue — and Alabama Fatigue — and live with it.

Or, cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame and hope it's a temporary outbreak.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 27

hateNCloveTN writes:

I'm a diehard UT/SEC fan, but it wouldn't take much for me to pull for the Irish just because of the "in your face attitude" of Bammers

VOLtage writes:

The Evidence: Alabama 33-14 over Ole Miss 38-17 over Pittsburgh loses to Notre Dame 29-26 in 3OT.
The Verdict: Taking out a mortgage Monday morning and flying to Vegas.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Despise everything there is to despise about ND...which is everything.

Go Tide.

cltvol writes:

go domers,,we need our rivals to falter

baldingalum writes:

I no longer buy in to this "root for the conference" garbage. The SEC is established. It's the best on the field in the country. When our beloved Vols get back into the mix they will never have any worry about not getting a shot on the national stage. BUT...because the SEC is by far the worst conference off the field - lowest graduation rate and by far the most scandals, cheating and NCAA infractions, I now pull against it.

All of which is to write, GO NOTRE DAME.

15_counting writes:

You know you are on top when everybody hates you! Roll Tide Roll!

tvol71 writes:

NO to ND, keep it in the SEC.

AllforTenn writes:

SEC

Timbo_Slice writes:

No win situation for this Vol fan! I just hope it's more exciting than last years NC game.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to 15_counting:

You know you are on top when everybody hates you! Roll Tide Roll!

maybe its cause you are a jerk

lstbodeanvol writes:

Man up Notre dame join a conference FULL TIME...hope Alabama beats them just like Oregon state destroyed them a few years ago in the Fiesta bowl ....

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to AllforTenn:

SEC

Thanks, AllforTenn

springtx_vol writes:

Easy call from this 40 year plus vol fan. Roll Tide. My two favorite teams every weekend are the Vols and whomever is playing Notre Dame. There is so much bias for ND, from National Champions to Heisman winners to ranking results. I truly believe, that with their schedule, any other team not named Notre Dame this year would not be playing for the BCS title.

Yes, on paper they have a great defense. But who on their schedule besides Stanford scares anyone? USC went down in flames. Oklahoma was routed by A&M. Pitt was drilled by Ole Miss. Navy, Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Miami, BYU. Only BYU won their bowl game. Miami bypassed a bowl, BC and WF didn't go.

The only thing that really bothers me is Golsen scrambling. That is a great equalizer in today's game.

GO SEC.

rusty_shackleford writes:

We've had to put up with the arrogance of ND for a long, long time. Even when they stunk, they were arrogant. Therefore, let the South rise again! RTR! SEC, SEC, SEC!

SummittsCourt writes:

I am not rooting for bama to win , but I sure do not want ND to win. I hate ND as much as I hate USC.

Go SEC! 7 in a row!

Vol_in_Mich writes:

Roll Tide (Yuk) I always pull for SEC teams as well as any other southern team in a bowl. While most Yankees are nice, some can be real buttholes about sports, especialy when it's North vs South.
I just don't like Notre Damn, never have, never will. Not since Manning got screwed out of the Heisman(sp?) Most fans around here feel the same about the Irish as we do about Gators. A lot of Irish fans are more arrogant than any Gator or Bammer & I'll never hear the end of from the few I know. I don't hate Bama (married to one) or N.D., they're just the enemy. I don't even hate the Gators. just most of their fans.
Like it or not, Nick Satan is the best coach in college football & even if Bama should lose, they'll be back next year & the next & the next, ect. (Depending on A&M & Johnny Footballs season))
The only thing wrong with Satan is that he's at Bama & not UT. I'm not sure even he could win at UT.
No matter what, we should have a good game tonight. I sure miss the Vols not going to some kind of bowl.

Maybe one day soon, give em heII Butch!

Dickattrade writes:

It would be really hard for me pull for any team other than SEC in bowls. The exception is Vandy. Yes I will be pulling for Alabama....
However VFL..

wreck429 writes:

I'm rooting for a large natural disaster of some sort. Maybe the mayans were just off a couple of weeks.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

Well, we can raise the Rebel flag and yell taunts across the lines all day but the fact is that Notre Dame is 26-17 all time vs. current SEC member teams. As Dizzy Dean always said, "If you can do it, you ain't bragging." So, we can hate them for whatever reasons but it should not be from a sense that they are overrated; our record against them belies that. My personal peeve is that they have negotiated themselves an equal seat at the table as other, ENTIRE CONFERENCES. Why have WE let that happen? Beats me, but it is fact.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to baldingalum:

I no longer buy in to this "root for the conference" garbage. The SEC is established. It's the best on the field in the country. When our beloved Vols get back into the mix they will never have any worry about not getting a shot on the national stage. BUT...because the SEC is by far the worst conference off the field - lowest graduation rate and by far the most scandals, cheating and NCAA infractions, I now pull against it.

All of which is to write, GO NOTRE DAME.

Despite the scandals you mention--and they bother me, too--I guess I have still not outgrown my pro-SEC bias. But it is a fact of no minor importance in today's college football world that ND graduates well over 90% of their football players year in and year out; I think the most recent figure was 97%. Their admission standards for athletes are among the highest in the country, which makes me chuckle a bit over the idea that UT's admission standards for football players may--or may not--be "too high" for the Vols to get the best players. And yes, I got more than my fill about how great ND football was when I was growing up, and will perhaps never get over the way Johnny Majors was robbed of the Heisman in favor of Paul Hornung for having led the Irish to a whopping 2-9 season! So I guess I will hold my nose a bit and pull for the Tide, but I won't cry if the Golden Domers pull the upset, if only for what they have accomplished off the field for a number of years now.

rbwtn writes:

You know down through the years I've had that fatigue many times Penn State, Notre Dame, Southern Cal.Michigan, Nebraska, Texas & Miami it got so bad at one time all Miami had to do is win one game against Florida State and they would be in the Finals. I'm leaving the SEC out we all remember the Bear however I can understand how the rest of the Nation including ABC, ESPN and FOX and NBC would give anything NOT to have the S E C in the Finals you can tell this by listening to the play by play announcers. It's been a heck of a run and frankly I hope we continue to Cram it down their Throats and force them to change the rules lol which they probably would.

FWBVol writes:

I was born and raised on SEC football. I'm first, and before all else, a Tennessee fan as UT is my alma mater true. But I have respect for the great programs in our conference that have continually risen to the top of the mountain in recent years.

I will not let a few obnoxious Bama fans keep me for pulling for the Crimson Tide tonight. Alabama is Southeastern Conference Family and even if you don't alway like your family members you stand with them against outsiders. As far as I'm concerned there is no school that is more of an outsider to the SEC than Notre Dame and with that in mind I'm pulling for the Tide to come in once again.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

I was born and raised on SEC football. I'm first, and before all else, a Tennessee fan as UT is my alma mater true. But I have respect for the great programs in our conference that have continually risen to the top of the mountain in recent years.

I will not let a few obnoxious Bama fans keep me for pulling for the Crimson Tide tonight. Alabama is Southeastern Conference Family and even if you don't alway like your family members you stand with them against outsiders. As far as I'm concerned there is no school that is more of an outsider to the SEC than Notre Dame and with that in mind I'm pulling for the Tide to come in once again.

I can certainly get behind that. My compliments to ND in my previous post are merely a reflection of my desire to give credit where it is due. I hope Bama smothers them and gives the SEC-haters of the world even more fuel for their hatred. I would just like the Vols to once again be a major source of that fuel.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

in response to rusty_shackleford:

We've had to put up with the arrogance of ND for a long, long time. Even when they stunk, they were arrogant. Therefore, let the South rise again! RTR! SEC, SEC, SEC!

Not picking on this post; it describes sentiments expressed by many: arrogant, smug, hates the SEC, self-rightous, etc. There are many reasons, perhaps, for this perception; consider a few:

Endowments could be considered the measure of support for a school by its alumni and friends. Harvard ranks first, at around 31 billion. Notre Dame is seventeenth, at around 6. The closest SEC school is Vanderbilt, at around 3. The ranking of other SEC schools are FL 34, GA 63, AL 77, Auburn 89, MO 97 and UT 101. Others fall below that. In terms of school support, I think this could be described, in SEC terms, as "putting your money where your mouth is."

ND had over forty thousand ticket request for the seventeen-five availble for the BS within 24 hours; do not know the final tally.

It is only fair to mention that Notre Dame, in its several visits in the past to Knoxville, rank that experience high in terms of courteous treatment and an enjoyable experience. UT fans have reciprocated, when visiting South Bend. Look it up.

If I were an alumni of Notre Dame, and was called upon to defend my "perceived arrogance," I think my response, while acknowledging the priviledges I enjoy, would be, "who cares."

TNVol71 writes:

I see no problem with SEC domination. I am a UT graduate and fan but will pull big time tonight for another SEC victory. I would love to see UT in this position in a couple of years. Go Vols!! Roll Tide!!! S-E-C !!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to vut5686#1405392:

Not picking on this post; it describes sentiments expressed by many: arrogant, smug, hates the SEC, self-rightous, etc. There are many reasons, perhaps, for this perception; consider a few:

Endowments could be considered the measure of support for a school by its alumni and friends. Harvard ranks first, at around 31 billion. Notre Dame is seventeenth, at around 6. The closest SEC school is Vanderbilt, at around 3. The ranking of other SEC schools are FL 34, GA 63, AL 77, Auburn 89, MO 97 and UT 101. Others fall below that. In terms of school support, I think this could be described, in SEC terms, as "putting your money where your mouth is."

ND had over forty thousand ticket request for the seventeen-five availble for the BS within 24 hours; do not know the final tally.

It is only fair to mention that Notre Dame, in its several visits in the past to Knoxville, rank that experience high in terms of courteous treatment and an enjoyable experience. UT fans have reciprocated, when visiting South Bend. Look it up.

If I were an alumni of Notre Dame, and was called upon to defend my "perceived arrogance," I think my response, while acknowledging the priviledges I enjoy, would be, "who cares."

No question ND would rank high in any listing of US colleges and universities. I would also guess that much of the perceived arrogance around ND comes from non-alum fans and biased media; true ND alums know what they have and don't have to brag. A degree from ND would be a great thing for anybody to have. It is also fine that the football team has revived; that gives the non-SEC parts of the football world hope that SOMEBODY, SOMEDAY might ease the SEC chokehold on the national championship, just not THIS year, clearly

JWilly writes:

As a long-time academician I always find it interesting how so many people are experts on the quality of institutions of higher learning. Often-times universities gain favorable reputations because of their graduate programs and research programs. Some universities focus on providing excellent undergraduate educations. Most of those are not viewed as top caliber schools because of the lack of a research reputation. Notre Dame is an excellent undergraduate institution but graduate program? Not so much (at least outside of its religion programs). Nevertheless, it is a good school. However, it is not nearly as perfect as they make it to be in terms of athletics. Tony Rice who led them to their last NC could not get accepted at Clemsom. Presently Coach BK does have some leeway in the admissions process. As for graduation rates, those are hard numbers to pin down and exactly what degree are they graduating with? this stuff is very subjective. I will add there are some fine undergraduate universities and some excellent research institutions in the SEC. For all the fun we poke at Alabama they may have one on the most impressive list of alumni of any public institution. Look up the name E.O. Wilson, one of the brightest minds of this nation...He is a Bama grad. Also, UT ain't no slouch either!

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