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In another context, this year would be fine. by captaineclectic

Good coaches have years like this, where the team isn't really elite and gets put its place when it tries to run with the big boys, or has a one-off flop at a terrible time, but where it's otherwise solid and outmatches lesser foes.

The problem is that we are a decade deep and the overall portfolio is weak and worse, weak in predictable ways. QBs always regress; the run game is always predictable and underdeveloped; the team is always soft and overdependent on student leadership for mental toughness and morale; the team plays poorly in bad weather; the team makes strange unforced penalties and bizarre tactical blunders. At its best, the team hangs out with the top tier, giving them a few good quarters of competition before reality sets in: at its worst, it underperforms against frauds like Michigan or nobodies like Virginia tech and gets Schembechler'd by the real powers. There is little to no indication of progress on these fronts as we enter decade 2 -- all that's happened is we've softened the schedule to paper over the flaws.

If we were my other alma mater -- the University of Morthwestern -- this would be ok. Blowing out the Purdues and the Illinoises of the world whilst being given swirlies by Ohio State is that program's ceiling, so a coach who gets them there semi-consistently is a hero (also, their coach is allowed to be purple). But it is not. It is Notre Dame. I understand that a great many people, some of whom have assembled on other message boards or on Twitter, believe that my implication here that Notre Dame is special or should expect to matter more than other programs is quaint, outdated, and unrealistic. They believe that Notre Dame is in fact Cornfield Morthwestern, a pipsqueak elite academic school trying to keep up with the big boys in a Quixotic and honorable quest that nobody expects to actually pay off on the field or anything.

Apropos of all that, Dorothy Sayers wrote that the reason Dante put poor old Socrates and his agora-dwelling friends in Limbo is that they failed to ask for anything better, observing that they're basically in the best afterlife they ever imagined, and that their only pain in this section of Hell is a vague understanding that they're missing out on the real party upstairs (I doubt Morthwestern would've taught me that, but Notre Dame did). Limbo is Heaven to people who don't believe Heaven exists; it is only Hell to those who know better.