Fast forward to mid way through the 2nd quarter on a love January 1st afternoon. Alabama just topped off an explosive passing play for a touchdown making it 28-7 in the middle of the 2nd quarter. Across the country, arms will fold, smirks will appear on faces, and condescending phrases like “Told you Notre Dame was overrated, insert condescending quote here”. Or the old personal favorite: “Welllll (end in an uptone, lightly exhales), looks like some people just need to recruit better”.
Guess what else we can insert into a sentence? Alabama defeats literally anyone else not named Clemson by at least three touchdowns. Secondly, any major school would like to recruit better. However, a good chunk of you have noticed over the past 5 years or so, the Big four of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Georgia have been involved in the 4 team playoffs. You know why these big dogs are constantly in there, while usually the 4th spot is taken by a noted Power 5 school that happened to have a good bump of stacked classes that gave them a very strong year, but probably can’t be repeated the following year.
***If you weren’t sure, here’s a link of the top 28 most recent playoff teams ranked, and well over half of them listed are at the least, the Big 3. Wild! Shit, I figured we’d be on Clemson/Alabama part 7 by now!
Nick Saban: Recruiting Lord
Those Clemson/Bama playoff games we come to joke about now are a credit to the monsters Nick Saban and Dabo have created in the past decade. Saban started at Alabama in 2007, and Dabo’s recruiting ability at Clemson went into overdrive about 2013 or so. Even though those latter two programs have dominated out on the recruiting trail, Alabama has blown everyone else out of the water over that duration of time, even the schools that finish in the Top 5 or Top 10 every year. The duration of Saban’s recruiting trail dominance is reflected in having 8 number classes over the past 12 years, and almost unheard of collection of talent acquisition. Interestingly enough, It’s the types of players he has been known to bring in, and how that’s changed.
Last decade Bama, and the “modern” version.
So, the last time Alabama annihilated Notre Dame, it was 8 years ago this week. During that era, of say 2008-2014 or so, the Tide were just known for giant humans in the front 7, particularly their Def Tackles and inside linebackers. It was almost like a forgotten era. Yeah, they had some pass rushers, but I just think of those giant ass 3-4 ends, etc. They were also known for giant human running backs, even before Derrick Henry and or the oft forgotten Bo Scarborough. Also, can’t forget the ultimate bust, Trent Richardson. Before he ate his way out of the NFL though, 2013 title game hero Eddie Lacy, literally threw an ND linebacker with one hand. It just wasn’t fair, and it would have happened to anyone.
(Also, does it have anything to do with them having top end future NFL linemen, too? Interesting….)
You remember that Johnny Football guy?
Much like the rest of college football, Alabama had been doing just fine with its mutant attack, but the days of top tier teams cruising to exhilarating 9-6 wins we’re about to be a thing of the past. https://www.espn.com/college-football/game?gameId=313090333
Yah see kids, Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M spread attack, terrorized college football in 2012-2013, including the actual Crimson Tide, who were personally ATTACKED! Nick Saban is no dummy, he sees where the game is going, and ends up hiring well renowned coordinators, even ones with troubled pasts like Lane Kiffin or Steve Sarkisian, who are more familiar with spread concepts. A few years of recruiting later, Alabama moves out of the “game manager” Greg McElroy types of QB’s, and has Jalen Hurts/Tua types of QB’s. Instead of having one dominant receiver like a Julio Jones or Amari Cooper, now he litters the field with fast little shits who end of up in the first round. If you told me in 2011, this is what Alabama would look like in half a decade, I would have laughed my ass off.
So what about your precious Notre Dame, you homer!
Ahhh, my precious. I have been a huge ND fan since Rudy came out, and I went to a game where the filmed the ending scene at halftime. Way to a sucker a ten year old in. It’s very similar to how all of you old ass millenials love the Cowboys still from that era, even though they impress nobody. Hell, I’d day the Cowboys are the Notre Dame of the NFL.
The problem is, my massive ND fandom came right after their era as an NFL producing machine under Lou Holtz. Know why that stopped? Because good players ended up getting cable TV, and over the next two decades, they realized their are other schools in America not named Notre Dame. Or if you lived in Florida, you didn’t have to go to Miami or FSU. Notice how these three schools have “fallen off” since their 80’s and 90s heydeys?
Notre Dame is….All Right.
Given their academic standards, they can’t take in any Jimmy and Joe off the street like those SEC schools can. Brian Kelly has done a good job of putting the Charlie Weis era in the review mirror, and has done so by being pretty good on the recruiting trail. Folks can bitch about the schedule, but they do seek out top tier opponents, hence scheduling Clemson, and Georgia the past few years, and Oklahoma in the early decade. Is it their fault Stanford and USC have dipped a little bit recently? You play the schedule. Hell, the Big Ten East used to look like a juggernaut, until Penn State and Michigan forgot to reload all their NFL talent. Same thing.
***If it’s one thing no can argue, it’s that Notre Dame highly recruits AND dumps out damn good NFL linemen. Zack Martin, Quentin Nelson, etc. Hell, even their free agent guys have revitalized the Bears O line, leaving people at least not bad mouthing them for being Domers, ya know cause it’s the Bears.***
Should they be in the playoffs now? That’s debatable, but beating Clemson even w/o Lawrence is a big deal, that team is still incredibly loaded. Being the sacrificial lamb to Clemson and Alabama in the playoff every year might start getting old, and create unintended program wide mental problems. If anything, I feel like an eight team playoff would be great, and probably more ND’s level. You know what, just have “The Big Four” do their own playoff they do, and have the next best four duke it out. That’s probably more ND’s measuring stick, as well as anybody else. At least it’s an even playing field.