The Marcus Freeman era at Notre Dame football team is off to a miserable start following a historically bad loss by the Fighting Irish against Marshall on Saturday.
Charles Huff’s Thundering Herd traveled into Notre Dame Stadium and upset the No. 8-ranked team in the country 26-21, dropping the Fighting Irish to 0-2 on the season. The score is not as good as it looks, either: Notre Dame scored a last-minute touchdown to cut the deficit to one possession. An onside kick attempt failed and Marshall was able to kneel out the victory.
The Fighting Irish committed three turnovers (all interceptions) and surrendered 219 rushing yards to Marshall, including 163 by Khalan Laborn. In all, Notre Dame was outgained 364-351.
It’s on Freeman to figure out what’s ailing his team as it prepares to face California and North Carolina the next two weeks.
The Sporting News looks at five numbers that demonstrate how historically bad this loss is for Notre Dame football:
Marcus Freeman’s 0-3 start
That is Freeman’s record through three games as Notre Dame’s head coach, dating to last season’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. He is the first coach in Notre Dame football history to start 0-3.
To compare, his predecessor, Brian Kelly, went 1-0 before losing three straight games to start 1-3. Before him, Charlie Weis started 2-1; Tyrone Willingham, who did not make it to the end of his third season, started 8-0; and Bob Davie started 1-0 before losing four straight.
That’s likely little comfort to Freeman, who will want to become the first coach since Lou Holtz to lead Notre Dame to a national championship.
Notre Dame’s 0-2 start to the 2022 season
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Notre Dame is just the third team to start the season 0-2 after beginning the season ranked in the top five in the preseason AP Top 25 poll. The other teams were Florida State in 2017 (losses to Alabama and N.C. State) and Michigan in 2007 (losses to Appalachian State and Oregon).
This is also the first time since 2011 that Notre Dame has begun its season 0-2. That season — Kelly’s second in Notre Dame — saw the Fighting Irish finish 8-5.
First loss to an unranked, non-Power 5 team since 2016
As was humorously noted by Brett McMurphy of the Action Network, Notre Dame is now winless all time vs. teams from the Sun Belt Conference. (This, of course, was the Fighting Irish’s first meeting against a Sun Belt school).
More to the point, Notre Dame’s loss to Marshall is its first loss to an unranked, non-Power 5 team in six years; the Fighting Irish lost to longtime rival Navy in 2016. Excepting rivalries, Notre Dame’s last loss to such a team came in 2011 when South Florida beat the Fighting Irish 23-20
Now 40-2 as a favorite over the past five seasons
Notre Dame entered Saturday’s game 40-1 as a favorite dating to the 2018 season. The lone loss was a 45-14 defeat at No. 19 Michigan in 2019, a game in which the Fighting Irish were just favored by just 1.5 points. The Irish were a 20.5-point favorite over the Thundering Herd on Saturday, per Caesars Sportsbook.
Also before Saturday, Notre Dame was 29-1 as a home favorite dating to 2017, when No. 15 Georgia beat the then-No. 24 Irish 20-19.
Marshall’s second top-10 victory
This is Marshall’s second victory over a top-10 opponent all time. The first came in 2003 when the Thundering Herd rumbled into Manhattan, Kan., and beat then-No. 6 Kansas State, 27-20.
20 Reasons Why College Football Fans Hate Notre Dame
Notre Dame is a fixture in the world of college football. The Fighting Irish have been around for a long time and have been featured a total of 736 times in the AP Poll since its inception in 1936
Generally speaking, you are going to draw hatred from fans that are jealous of your success. This is seen with such teams as Alabama, and the hatred is directed at whatever conference happens to be on top in the world of college football. (This is especially evident toward the SEC at the present time.)
So, without much success over the past few decades, why is Notre Dame still hated so much? What in the world could the Irish have done to earn this malice?
Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. Here are 25 reasons that the rest of the college football world can’t stand the Irish, in no particular order, believe me, there are many more reasons in places such as this.
Reasons 20-14: Notre Dame Leapfrog
In the history of the AP Poll, there have been 70 instances in which the top AP team has won its game, but was jumped by the second-ranked team.
Notre Dame has been the jumper in 10 of those instances. Not only has Notre Dame jumped over the top-ranked team 10 times, but it has also done it by defeating unranked teams 70 percent of the time.
So, that gives the following teams reason to dislike Notre Dame:
1) Michigan (twice in 1947 and once 1948)
2) Ohio State (1947 and 1964)
3) Nebraska (1965)
4) Texas (1970)
Now, if the team plays so well that it shows its dominance over the team in front of it, then it should jump the other team. That at least makes sense. However, shutting out an unranked opponent is something that’s expected of a No. 2 team.
It should not be a reason to jump another team, especially when the top team won its game. In most of the seven cases listed above, it simply looks like Notre Dame jumped into the top slot simply because it was Notre Dame.
So, Notre Dame plays its own version of leapfrog and leaps onto the bad side of college football fans nationwide.
Reason 13: Notre Dame Fans’ Arrogance
It seems that every time I run into Notre Dame fans, they have something to say about their football program and its impact on the entire college football landscape.
They will tell you things like, “Good Notre Dame football is good for college football.” This statement, which I can only assume is required memorization fodder for all Notre Dame students, is as arrogant as it comes.
You don’t run into Alabama or LSU fans that say college football is crap just because their teams aren’t at the top, and LSU and Alabama are two of the rudest fanbases in all of college football.
When you’re spouting off arrogant phrases like the Irish fans, you’re just inviting hate in your direction. (Especially when you claim that it’s God’s team and sound like you really mean it).
Good college football is good for college football, nothing else. Nobody (no, not even God) cares if it’s Alabama or Oklahoma on top, apart from the teams’ individual fans.
The rest of us let the field do the talking. Grow up and join us, won’t you?
Reason 12: The Irish Refuse to Join a Conference
Notre Dame is still independent when it comes to college football. This is a gigantic insult to every other sport it has at the school.
Forget how unfair it is for a minute (we will get there), and just think about the message it sends to its other student-athletes.
So, yeah, we know that you other kids are all in conferences, but see, our academic standards are so high that we just can’t recruit great football players that can keep the grades we ask. We know you little people all work hard to maintain your GPA’s, but football is different. It’s more important. It’s God’s sport, and He just wants us to coddle them, not you. Really, we asked Him and He said, “Lo, thou shalt coddle the weak of mind on the football field.”
No, this is not an actual quote, but the university sure comes off as believing the football players need special treatment because of the high academic standards of the Irish. What about your sports that are actually contending for national championships, such as women’s basketball?
If you’re too good to be in a conference, then don’t be in a conference. This “every sport but football” junk is exactly that: junk.
Reason 11: 1966
Notre Dame has drawn the ire of many a football fan over the years, but 1966 was one of the best examples of Notre Dame-ism that there ever was.
Notre Dame started the season in the top 10, and Alabama started the season as the top dog. Neither Alabama nor Notre Dame played in the first week and only Alabama made a bowl appearance (and victory).
Alabama absolutely destroyed the sixth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers 34-7. At the end of the year, the Michigan State Spartans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish sat atop the final AP Poll, while Alabama sat at the third position.
The final poll looked like this:
1) Notre Dame (9-0-1) (no bowl game)
2) Michigan State (9-0-1) (no bowl game)
3) Alabama (10-0) (Sugar Bowl demolition of powerhouse Nebraska)
So, when 1966 came to a close, a 9-0-1 Irish squad had Notre Dame’d its way to a national championship over an 11-0 Crimson Tide.
Cue the hatred seething from the South.
Reason 10: The Notre Dame Rule
The BCS selection procedures are yet another fine example of the issues other fans take with Notre Dame.
If you do not want to be in a conference, do not be in a conference. If you choose not to be in a conference, you do not get the benefits of being associated with a major conference.
Automatic qualification rule No. 4 states: “Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings.”
Notre Dame, by virtue of the fact it lobbied for that rule, is stating it’s better than everyone else in the nation and deserves very special consideration.
Not only is it saying it’s specifically better than last year’s No. 8 Boise State, it’s independent. It’s actually saying Army, Navy and Air Force aren’t as important as it is. The service academies play every year simply to do their best. If they make it to a BCS bowl, great. If not, oh well, they are the service academies. Their service speaks for itself.
Notre Dame is only willing to say it believes in its system for so long. After that, everyone else must bow down to the team, or their service isn’t worth it.
So, let’s all get together and leave them with the other independents. If they get in, they get in. If not, oh well, it’s only Notre Dame.
Reason 9: Notre Dame Actually Believes It Is Still Super Important
There were 12 people representing the entire landscape of college football in the talks for a playoff. There were 11 conference commissioners and the athletic director of Notre Dame.
Each conference commissioner represented his/her entire conference (obvious), and Notre Dame got an equal voice. Thankfully, Notre Dame only had one-twelfth of the vote, but that was a lot more power than it had either earned or deserved in the proceedings.
The bad news is that, once again, Notre Dame and its media department (NBC) had way too much power in the process. The worse news is that Notre Dame will have a representative on the (tentative) 12-person presidential oversight committee for playoff selection.
Cue the hatred from anyone that’s fair-minded.
Reason 8: Notre Dame Can’t Manage Money (and Makes Too Much)
College football players enjoy amenities like tutoring, weight rooms, coaching staff and a smidgen of fame to help them along their journey to being a successful student-athlete.
The funds for these things are usually generated by the football team itself (along with licensing, ticket sales, product sales and the like). Most top-level programs are so successful that the football team can actually generate enough money to make the entire athletic department solvent without any help from the other sports.
Notre Dame has an exclusive contract with NBC (which only upsets the rest of us when we visit people without cable on the weekends) and must share zero of its funds with anyone else.
Every other team in the nation, apart from service academies, has to split the gains from bowl games, etc., with everyone else in its conference. (No, it’s not an even split, but it’s still a split.)
So, Notre Dame has a distinct advantage to recruit whomever it wants and tutor them into academic qualification by its own “strict” standards.
However, the powers at Notre Dame have turned that golden opportunity into zero national championships since 1988 (a scant three years after the original Back to the Future debuted in theaters).
Plus, they haven’t exactly been on the “cutting edge” in the stadium remodeling department. You would think that an institution with such a stress on football would…well, finance their football team.
It doesn’t take a Doc Brown to point out that that is messed up. I sure hope Notre Dame doesn’t offer degrees in finance.
Reason 7: Notre Dame Grows Grass on Field Longer to Attempt to Stop USC
Notre Dame is not the only team in the history of college football to bend the rules to try to win a game, but this article is about Notre Dame.
The slide title really speaks for itself. Back in 2005, Notre Dame grew the grass of its field longer in order to attempt to slow down the blazing-fast No.1-ranked USC Trojans’ defense.
Talk about a not-so-subtle way of admitting you basically have no real chance of victory. That flies in the face of everything Notre Dame would have you believe about its higher standards, doesn’t it?
Poetic justice: God saw what the Irish did. USC won the game.
Reason 6: The Phrase ‘Return to Glory’
About.com has a list of the winningest 10 teams in each decade beginning with the 1950’s. Though many teams make that list repeatedly, Notre Dame makes the list only once.
The Irish came in eighth for the 1970’s. That’s right, eighth. So, whenever I hear the sentiment from a Notre Dame fan that the Irish will “return to glory” one of these days, my question is always: “What glory?”
It may be a bit harsh, but ranking as the eighth-best team in one decade in the last 60 years isn’t exactly the “glory days” of a powerhouse program. It’s definitely not the glory days of a program that has an exclusive contract with a major network—at least it shouldn’t be.
Reason 5: The Irrationality of the Fanbase
Beyond the arrogance of the Irish fan, there is the motivation for that arrogance. Except, when you delve deeply into the past of the Irish, you will find no real substantial motivation for their arrogance.
It’s one thing to deal with arrogance. You can ask a ‘Bama fan, “What about the 2010 Iron Bowl?” and you’ll probably get a slew of curse words and a quick change of subject to either 2011 or 2009.
You can’t disarm Irish fans because they aren’t armed in the first place. What do you say to a fan that will tell you why his/her team is better while your team is actively beating them on the field?
I don’t know either.
Reason 4: The Fighting Irish
How is this not a derogatory or racist mascot?
The Washington Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) had to change their name because of its association with street violence (although bullet trains are just fine all over the world). Even the Fighting Illini have come under the microscope for their mascot in recent years.
The almost-identical Fighting Irish? Nah, they’re fine, man. They’re Notre Dame, the epitome of class. They couldn’t possibly be guilty of anything like racism!
As a person of Irish descent, I disagree that it should be a big issue, but I absolutely hate a double standard.
If the Illini have to go, so do the Irish.
Reason 3: You Can’t Escape the Irish—They’re Overrated Every Year
This table (h/t Denny Armstrong) lists the most overrated and underrated teams from 1989-2011.
The list is ordered from most underrated (at the top) to the most overrated. Notre Dame comes in at the bottom a full six points worse off than the second-most overrated team.
Notre Dame bias is real in the media, folks, and you simply cannot escape it under the present ranking system.
Reason 2: Seriously, Why Won’t They Just Go Away?
In their entire history, the Irish are 15-16 in bowl games, which seems respectable at first glance. However, over the last 12 appearances (beginning in 1994), the Irish are a dismal 2-10 in the postseason.
They were picked into everything from the Sugar Bowl to the Insight Bowl, so it’s not a matter of being picked too highly in all cases. Sometimes it’s an issue of being selected at all.
Why are the Irish special? Why don’t they have to prove it on the field like everyone else?
Even Utah has a better bowl selection argument since it took down ‘Bama in 2008.
Reason 1: This Article, It’s Exactly What I’m Talking About
After all the years in irrelevance, after all the haters screaming at them about their arrogance, after handing them loss after loss in the postseason, they still think we’re jealous.
They still think we’re in awe of them, or that we wish we could be like them. There is just no reasoning with them, and it is beyond frustrating.
Notre Dame, we do not wish we were you, like you, near you or in your stadium (unless we’re watching our team kick your butt). We simply want you to realize that you’re not the bee’s knees.
That is all.