Notre Dame is one of the most historic programs in college football. It doesn’t take long to get to the Fighting Irish on a list of the sport’s most notable teams, no matter how you cut it.
Notre Dame is incredibly unique in its history and its status as an independent in a sport where the Power Five conferences dominate the landscape. The program also has a national fan base very different than just about every other major school.
If you’re reading this website, you probably know one more thing about Notre Dame football… people don’t like the Irish very much.
Ahead of the start of the 2019 season, USA Today published a ranking of the top 25 programs by likeability, and Notre Dame came in dead last.
Using the teams in the preseason coaches poll, USA Today ranked the programs from most to least likeable.
Oklahoma came in at No. 1, with its fun offense, and likeable coach-quarterback combo of Lincoln Riley and Jalen Hurts, who handled his move from Alabama about as well as one can imagine.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame comes in below Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State. From USA Today:
For this list last year, we argued the Fighting Irish need to join a conference, and that is still unquestionably our position going into the 2019 season — especially if they’d like another trip to the College Football Playoff. Last year, they were undefeated in the regular season with not the toughest schedule and generally deserved a playoff appearance. And then they blew it, getting wrecked by Clemson in the semifinals.
They don’t have a grueling conference schedule to survive, they don’t have a conference title game to play in — a loss will almost always keep a team out of the playoff — and they shouldn’t get another shot at the playoff until they join a conference or win with a tougher schedule.
There are certainly reasons to dislike Notre Dame, and the conference situation can be one, but the schedule weakness bit doesn’t really hold up.
The Fighting Irish typically have a rough slate of annual rivals. Last season, a number of them faltered, giving them a pretty easy group, but entering 2019, Michigan and Georgia both pop up as other College Football Playoff contenders, as well as trendy ACC Coastal pick Virginia, a talented USC squad that usually plays ND tough, and rival Stanford, one of the more steady programs in the country.
Anti-Notre Dame sentiment is prevalent and fine, but the reasoning here seems a bit off.