Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Oct 2009

Notre Dame Scheduling Fail

Notre Dame message boards are abuzz with complaints about Notre Dame going so low as to schedule above-average MAC team Western Michigan next year.

This gave the folks at Maple Street Press an opening to release Brian Fremeau's essay on Notre Dame's scheduling, with suggestions on who they should schedule. You can download that essay here. And no, it does not include Western Michigan.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 23 Oct 2009

10 comments, Last at 19 Nov 2009, 2:27am by Antique Furniture


by Independent George :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 4:04pm

Can't they just play Navy twice?

by kevinM (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 5:04pm

Why not Arkansas State?

You can barely beat them and still be ranked top 6 in the BCS.

by Marcumzilla :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 5:09pm

I saw this and expected to see something like a 1-AA or Div 2 school. Scheduling a 1-A school that isn't a bottom feeder in its conference isn't newsworthy at all. Even a bottom feeder 1-A isn't that newsworthy unless it was someone like Temple a few years back.

Just look at the boxscores on this date (which doesn't show the at-the-time rankings) and tell me scheduling a MAC school is any reason to say they failed:


by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 7:12pm

This is news? Notre Dame, for the better part of fifty years, has used its independent status as an excuse to schedule a chorus line of cream puffs briefly interrupted by the occasional valid opponent. "Tradition" validated a commitment to Navy, Air Force, and Pittsburgh when their programs were hoping for six wins but happy with three. And those classic showdowns with Miami? Scheduled when Miami was a punching bag and before Schnellengberger brought them to prominence.

The reality is that Notre Dame has not beaten a team that finished in the top-25 since the Bob Davies years, partly because they don't schedule many. The fact is, the Willingham/Weiss era has been built upon a foundation of weak opponents.

by DD (not verified) :: Sat, 10/24/2009 - 12:42pm

Notre Dame ranks 14th in schedule strength according to Sagarin since Weis took over as coach. But don't let facts get in the way.

by kevinM (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 10:37pm

Do you even click on the FEI columns?

11 of the other 24 teams listed in the top 25 have played more difficult schedules than ND. Not 23... 11.

by Fontes of Wayne :: Sat, 10/24/2009 - 10:16am

As a former Kalamazooan (and WMU grad student), I have two things to say about this:
1) I'm not a fan of this, either. WMU has dropped several athletic teams in the last five years in order to continue pumping millions into its moribund football program. Getting to schedule a major national program (even ND) is obviously a huge deal for "mid-majors" entertaining delusions of future prominence, but I worry this is just going to lead to the school throwing more money down a hole at the expense of, well, everything else related to a school.
2) http://www.stopsayingfail.com

by zlionsfan :: Sat, 10/24/2009 - 1:12pm

Well, as much as I hate to do this ... it's not a one-way street. While it is fun to pick on Notre Dame for scheduling any team in the country as long as it's a service academy, it isn't NCAA 10. For ND to play someone, they need a mutual commitment.

A team looking at a top-10 finish may not be eager to play the Irish: works great if they're a middle-of-the-pack team and you beat them, but if they win, you're in a tough spot for BCS position now, and if they somehow become solid again, now it's "another" tough game. If you're a BCS contender and you've got one or two tough games on your schedule, can you really afford another?

I think this is another problem with the BCS. There's actually a disincentive for top teams to schedule each other; sometimes it even extends to wannabes. When an early-season loss may be recoverable, and a late-season loss may eliminate you, you want to schedule as few tough games as possible. (As opposed to a playoff system, where with a large enough field, you can afford to play an extra tough game to increase your SOS without completely risking your playoff chances.)

From Western's perspective, this should be a good thing if they're getting a truckload of money; it's a boost for the athletic coffers for a game that involves a bus trip, rather than a plane ride. If there's no financial guarantee, then it's a bad move. The Broncos are better off playing a softer schedule and playing for a bowl spot.

by Jim (not verified) :: Sun, 10/25/2009 - 8:10pm

Why would any team with BCS aspirations play anything but the easiest schedule that they can? SoS is no longer a part of the BCS formula and the Coaches along with the Harris voters do not punish teams playing cupcakes nor do the reward big wins all that much while killing teams for even very close losses against ranked teams.

by Antique Furniture (not verified) :: Thu, 11/19/2009 - 2:27am

And Jim hits the nail on the head- unless it is punished, they shouldn't be. Look at Texas Tech- a soft schedule outside the conference is deliberately planned by Leach every year.