Okay, I’ve had enough of the ND Schedule Bashing. This year proves it beyond anything: ND PLAYS A TOUGH SCHEDULE YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT. That is it. Not debatable.
No DII programs. Very few ‘cakewalks’. Heck, our typical ‘cakewalk’ game is Navy, a perennial bowl team!
Phil Steele came out with his pre-season SOS calculations and ranks ND at 14, compared to the NCAA ranking of 6. To be honest, I think Steele’s methodology is better, but either tells the story: ND is playing a tough schedule in 2011.
If we take a look at both of those lists’ Top 20, and average out the rankings (including only those ranked in the Top 20 of SOS in both methodologies), ND’s SOS average next year is 9. Okay, great. Our schedule is predicted to be more difficult than 111 out of 120 FBS programs. Pretty solid, right? Respectable. Of course.
But how about this: EVERYONE IS CALLING THIS YEAR’S SCHEDULE EASY/MANAGEABLE COMPARED TO THE NORM FOR NOTRE DAME! Our fans, opponents’ fans, ESPN talking heads: “ND has a manageable schedule this year, which should help them get to the BCS.” Sure, sure. Totally easy, very manageable. Boring, even. The 9th most difficult schedule in the freaking LAND? What are we talking about here?
This shows how significantly skewed expectations have become for the Irish program. We are in the Top 7.5% of schedules in terms of difficulty, and fans, pundits, and haters all together deem this schedule ‘easy’ or ‘manageable’. What world is this? How did we get here?
Take this exact same schedule, ranked 9th in SOS, and throw in Oklahoma AND Miami. That’s your 2012-2013 schedules, folks. Think people will still consider it easy/manageable? At this point, I’m guessing yes.