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Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

The Answer Man

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Q: Will Notre Dame get back to the top in the football world again?

A: Notre Dame haters may be finding less and less reasons to hate them.

Notre Dame has fired three coaches in just a handful of years. Now they are seeking a new one, and football fans are wondering if a different coach can bring them back to the status they once enjoyed.

Sentiment tells you that the Notre Dame tradition will win out in the long run.

Logic tells you another thing.

When the National College Football Champion is crowned in 2010 it will be twenty two years since Notre Dame has won. Things were beginning to change even before that. And everyday it becomes more apparent.

College football has never had a truly valid way of declaring a national champion. Prior to 1936, colleges "claimed" championships. For instance, Princeton has "claimed" twenty eight, and Yale 26.

The AP Poll started in 1936, and the UPI in 1950. Though still just opinions, and subject to sectional prejudices, this system is at least better than one college or the other just "claiming" a championship.

During the period 1936 until now, Notre Dame has won eight National Championships. Four of them were won in the 1940's. They remained strong for a number of years, but no better - or not as good as - several other schools.

Now Notre Dame is no longer one of the Big Boys. Why?

First of all Notre Dame has higher academic requirements than most of the college football powerhouses. This is going to cost them some high profile athletes.

Maybe more important than that is "climate." Statistics will show you that in the last fifty years only ten cold weather schools - Notre Dame being one of them - has managed to capture a football National Championship. The other forty have been schools from the sunshine states.

This may be due to the huge population growths in states like Florida, or California, which is part of the natural drift of industry and people to move to more temperate climates.

Though a college football season is over before the really cold weather sets in, there is a condition called the "off-season." That's when South Bend, Indiana turns into a frozen tundra that only an Eskimo could feel comfortable in. Why would a great player want to leave a state, where he can be outside twelve months of the year, to face temperatures in the low teens, and daily forecasts of snow, or ice?

Notre Dame has some problems the other big football schools don't have. It will be interesting to see if a new coach, and the fast fading tradition, can woo great players back to South Bend to give them the depth so needed to compete against the sunlit states.

Q: Will TCU ever win another College Football National Championship?

A: Present circumstances tell you probably not.

"Another," you ask? Believe it or not, TCU won the National Championship in 1938. It's been a long haul since then.

The other night Texas kicked a last second field goal to put them in the National Championship game. But for that TCU would have been the logical choice to face Alabama for all the honors.

But would they have been given that chance.?

The big conferences - and all the poll voters - are highly reluctant to recognize what they call a minor conference. They may have found a dozen reasons to jump someone else over a member of the Mountain West Conference.

Back in 1984 all the Big Boys lost a couple of games, and Brigham Young went undefeated to be voted National Champions.

This caused tremors in the major conferences that threatened an 8.4 earthquake.

And what was Brigham Young's reward for winning the National Championship? They were relegated to play Michigan in the obscure Holiday Bowl. Michigan had already lost five games in the regular season. Brigham Young gave them their sixth loss.

In all probability TCU will now fade into the background where all minor conferences are supposed to be. The elitism of Big Conference thinking is that one Brigham Young in a lifetime is far too many.

Q: Why is Missouri playing Navy in their bowl game?

A: Because that's just the way it is.

Why wasn't Mizzou given the chance to beat some boastful Southeastern Conference team, or maybe one of the California also-rans?

Everybody likes Navy - except Army. Beating Navy is....... is un-American.

At least it won't be as bitter a pill to swallow if they beat us.

The Answer man
The Answer Man