What It Means to be #1

If you can, for just a minute, forget about next weekend’s game. Forget about the potential for a Mythical National Championship game. Forget about Bama and the SEC and USC and the Ducks and the K-Staters. Focus for a short time on this: Notre Dame is the #1 Football Team in the Nation. And think about for a second what that means.

Here’s what it means to me.

First, the obvious. It means we’re considered the best team in the country. A bunch of people that are barely qualified and a bunch of computers that are pretty qualified (IMHO) have put us there. That’s the reality of how it’s done and the fact is that since it’s been done that way, we’ve never before been #1. However you feel about that process – and there are many with many feelings – to date this system has always put some other teams (often many) above Notre Dame. No longer. It’s an amazing, unbelievable achievement, and it’s something the entire program and fanbase should be wildly proud of. Notre Dame is ranked ahead of 119 other FBS teams. ND is the highest ranked team in the land.

Second, it means that academic and moral standards need not be jettisoned to have this kind of success. Chip Kelly is a hell of a football coach, but not even 2 out of 3 of his players get a degree. Urban Meyer can win football games by coaching kids that end up in jail as often as the end zone, but I don’t ever want a scumbag like that leading my Irish. Notre Dame is #1 in the country in football and #1 in the country in GSR, with almost every player graduating. LEARNING and ON-FIELD success are not antithetical. Sure, it’s harder to do it this way. It’s a tougher road. But that’s why we choose it: because we’re Notre Dame, and per BK: “Nobody does it like Notre Dame.”

The current BCS top 10 and their current GSR%:

1. Notre Dame 97%
2. Alabama 75%
3. Georgia 69%
4. Florida 75%
5. Oregon 64%
6. Kansas State 58%
7. LSU 77%
8. Stanford 90%
9. Texas A&M 69%
10. Florida State 55%

This isn’t even close.

The third thing that this means is that program building is for real. Ty came in and preached…golfing. Weis came in and preached schematic advantage. Coach Kelly came in and preached program. Program program program. It’s not about a certain team or year, and it’s certainly not about a particular player. It’s about building a consistently strong identity as a PROGRAM. Instilling values and ways of doing things that get consistently high performance out of teams year in and year out. And as you can see with recruiting, a trickle-down effect occurs. The program starts to attract more and more of the RKGs that Coach wants. They come earlier, and recruit others more strongly, and that success yields more success. This is program-building at its finest, and I think it’s happening a bit more quickly than anyone really expected, but ain’t nobody complainin’.

And this brings me to the next thing that this means: Brian Kelly is the real deal. In case you weren’t on board earlier this season (because of style points or up and down performances or whatever) you must be now. Because BK has taken this program from 6-6 to the promised land in the hallowed and legendary Year 3. The light has come on for Coach and how to handle Notre Dame, and the light has come on for ND on how to handle and understand Coach. It’s a beautiful thing to know that there is competence at the head of this program. It has been quite some time. And no, he’s not perfect, and no coach is. But BK has figured out how to make it work at Notre Dame, and while we all have opinions about his plans, no one can say he DOESN’T plan, and no one can say that that plan isn’t (at least currently) working. Man, it’s nice to have a the real deal as our Head Coach!

And finally, and this is where I think the rubber meets the road for most Irish fans across the country, this means it’s possible. It’s actually possible for Notre Dame to be #1 again. Because while we all have hoped, and dreamed, and yearned for success like this, none of us KNEW it would come. We kept the Faith. We prayed. We did our best to believe. We wondered if the haters and pundits were right. We tried to smash down that little lingering feeling of doubt that remained way back in the corner of our hearts and minds. We weren’t SURE it would happen again.
But we no longer have to fear….

It’s HERE. NOTRE DAME IS BACK!

We don’t have to wake up the echoesTHEY ARE WIDE FREAKING AWAKE, and tearing the sheets off their beds and running screaming into the night with cheers and chants that resound off the hills and halls where ND fans roam.

There is no more need to seek a Return to Glory. GLORY HAS BEEN RESTORED! We need not yearn and pine for days gone by and what might have been. We’re LIVING IN THE GLORY NOW.

There is no more need to wonder, to doubt, to questionNOTRE DAME IS THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY. We have climbed that climb. We have fought that fight. And we have arrived.

We. Are. Number. 1.

Okay, now you can refocus on killing SC. Go Irish, Beat Trojans!

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  • Davie Dave 40

    Well put Mr. Biscuit. Onward To Victory.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/GrantlandX Grantland-X

    You forgot to mention that it validates that Notre Dame doesn’t need to join a conference to win a title…that may be my favorite part.

    • Big Red

      A Michigan (sucks) fan tried to tell me a week or two ago that we’d be better off this year if we were in the Integer. My response: “Why? So we could be forced to play more mediocre teams like Purdue instead of Stanford, USC, and Oklahoma?”

      It’s a shame conference advocates will never deconstruct and explore the roots of their beliefs. You can play a good schedule or a bad schedule if you’re in a conference: it all depends on how good your opponents are. Some teams need 13 games to play a tough schedule. ND’s good with 12.

  • trey

    I was 11 the last time I was able to look upon the polls and see my beloved Irish so prominently better than the rest of the country. I have invested so
    Much emotional energy in this program since ’93, and it honestly feels like a trmendous burden(at at times a shame) has been cast off. No longer do I have to defend being a ND fan, no longer do i have to only hole next year will be better or pray that THIS team will be the one to start the upward trend. We have arrived back where we belong and are primed to take back what is ours.

    I have never been able, in my adult life, to be truly proud of this team and this feels great! Let’s take it, boys! WE ARE ND!

  • canuck75

    It is hard to describe how good it feels in the short term, but as you say, the program looks better than ever. We have freshmen all over the field and more great ones arriving.
    I have to say I was a believer in Coach from Day 1- you simply don’t win like that at CMU and Cinci by accident. ( I have to admit though that I stuck with Charlie one season too long)
    Everett may turn out to be the best ever at qb.
    Wow.

  • http://gravatar.com/tjak2 tjak

    Going to work this Monday morning is truly going to be very easy. For years my colleagues and students would chirp at me about the Irish, but I remained steadfast and this team has rewarded all our loyalty. Next Monday is going to be even sweeter, Beat $C, Go Irish!!!

  • JJ

    we endured davies, ty, chuck. we endured a decade of blowouts to SCum, we endured 3-9, 6-6, losses to navy, tulsa ‘cuse, and south florida. BUT WE HAVE KEPT THE FAITH, we have cheered and stayed the course we have been mocked by co-workers, espn (i’m talking directly to you mr Wright Thompson and Rick Reilly) and analysts everywhere and yet we have cheered we have sold out and we have traveled to the ends of the earch to cheer on THE IRISH and now it taste SWEETER THAN EVER!! I remember being a 10 year old watching “The Game Of The Century” ya know the real one not that BS from last year. After years of heart ache this feels incredible. and we did it the RIGHT way. Thank you to every DOMER and SUBWAY ALUM that has stayed the course, now lets go beat THE HELL outta SCum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Joe

    I was shedding tears when I read your article. It feels WONDERFUL to be #1 again, not just for the sport of football, but because it proves that we don’t have to be BAMA or any other SEC school. We are ND!! We are unique!! We have always known that our beloved university is second to none, and having the #1 ranking makes it a dream come true! Go Irish and beat SC!!

  • marsnd

    I followed this team since my child years. I’m 33 now. I’ve had to grandfather’s tthat went their, and 4 uncles. One an All American named Tom Regner. I’ve always worn my Irsh gear with pride, win or lose. I believe this season is special though. We started out with a new offensive system, and a new qb. The hardest strength of schedule in the nation[ pre-season] So to see an undefeated team at this far into the season has me thinking that this will continue for some time again. Not giving all the props to coach yet. We’ve jumped on board early with coaches who led us to bcs games to fast before. Most of his best players were recruited by Charlie [ like manti, wood, exc..] He did out coach stoops and several others though. Anyway it’s been a dream season so far. No matter how it all plays out?..I’ll be proud of this group for several reasons. 1 so unexpected, 2 So much heart, 3 they play like champions every game. As far as style points..I agree that their on de too. We only give up an average of 10 a game. number 1 in the nation. We average over 24 a game too. We get the wins. Thats all that matters

  • marsnd

    It does remind me of last season alot. Except for the last second scores and turnovers on us..we’re doing them on the other team this year. We we’re a better team than our record last year. A few turnovers in the redzone, a last second drive by Denard, a fumble or two. We improved all around. I’m Really excited to see what Kelly does with Davaris too. He’s the next Randy Moss. When he comes back from injury, he’ll be awesome to watch. Hes the real deal guys

  • marsnd

    Number 1 to means to me that we’re in store for a lot of great years to come. Recruits are taking notice, and the 90′s are over. We needed this kind of year and exposure to keep the younger generation on board with our tradition of winning

  • fossilman

    Well done! we are back and here to stay. Stay focused and stay healthy!

  • earl

    How do you like us now Rick Reilly??

  • Irish96

    I was a sophomore for the ’93 season. I was there when we lit the #1 on Grace. But I’d only been a fan for a few years- I had no understanding of how hard it is to actually make a run at the national championship. The last 17 seasons have educated me (painfully) on that reality.

    Words can’t explain how excited/nervous I am about the USC game. I’m going to be a wreck by the time the game rolls around. It’s all there for the taking. We don’t need any “help” to get in. Go Irish. Burn Troy.

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