How far behind college football's current powers has Notre Dame fallen over the past two decades?
Fans posed with the following question, "Which programs have been the most dominant over the past 20 years?", are likely to come up with these schools in their Top 5: USC, Oklahoma, LSU & Alabama. This group conveniently tops most 2012 pre-season polls. Fans would have to assume those schools have had a significantly better regular season record over that span, right? While each of those programs has more wins during the window and each has scored at least one National Championship, the numbers for the entire sample size might surprise you.
This article is not set out to claim these past two decades haven't been disappointing, but rather to put in perspective of what we perceive as success and how easily we tend to forget the volatility of college football. Notre Dame Football's 2012 season marks 19 years since the Irish have contended for a national title after Halloween. How bad have the past 20 years been on the Win-Loss record? Notre Dame's *regular season record from 1992-2011 is 149 Wins vs. 81 Losses. That's an aveerage of 7.5 Wins & 4.1 Losses during that stretch - certainly nothing to be proud of around Notre Dame Stadium. How does that stack up over that span with teams most consider have been sustaining excellence?
*Regular Season ONLY 1992-2011. NOT included are conference championship & bowl games. I-AA (FCS) opponents defeated are inlcuded. Vacated USC & Alabama wins are included. Reminder: this includes years with ties & varying amounts of regular season games.
How many more Wins Per Season have these powers averaged vs. Notre Dame?
- USC - 1.1
- Oklahoma - 0.6
- Alabama - 0.75
- LSU - 0.15
Analysis - For all this ineptitude, Notre Dame is not embarassingly behind the country's leaders during this infamous "20 years of irrelevance". We could have gotten creative and stripped those I-AA wins to really close the gap, but Notre Dame has taken it's share of shots at the service academies - it's a wash. The Trojans, like ND, don't schedule I-AA teams and have been impressively dominant over this stretch; SC still has merely averaged 1 more win per season more than Notre Dame despite an extended mini-dynasty. As some other stats below show, the difference has NOT been avoiding multiple bad seasons, it has merely been the Irish's inability to string together any formidable stretch of averaging 3 losses or less.
Worst 2-Year Stretch in Past 20 Years
- Oklahoma 7-16 (96-97)
- LSU 7-15 (98-99)
- Notre Dame 9-15 (07-08)
- Alabama 9-14 (00-01)
- USC 11-12 (00-01)
Worst 4-Year Stretch in Past 20 years
- Oklahoma 17-27 (95-98)
- Alabama 23-28 ( 00-03)
- Notre Dame 22-26 (07-10)
- LSU 22-22 (98-01)
- USC 25-23 (98-01)
Most sub-.500 seasons Past 20 years:
- LSU - 5 (92-94, 98, 99)
- Notre Dame - 4 (99, 01, 03, 07)
- Alabama - 3 (97, 00, 03)
- Oklahoma - 3 (96-98)
- USC - 1 (2000)
Hey look! Notre Dame isn't the statistical loser in any of these categories of futility! These records could serve as a reality check for level-headed fans in ND Nation if they existed. All four programs suffered through losing seasons and an extended embarassing stretch of play before righting the ship. Many of these proud fan bases suffered longer stretches of futility than the Irish and endured countless terrible losses.
Every recent national title season by each school was achieved AFTER a season of sub-.500 play in the previous 5 seasons. Notre Dame is 5 seasons removed from 2007's 3-9 campaign and has won more regular season games than the previous year for 3 consecutive seasons.
Top programs can turn around and do it quickly. Reigning National Champion Alabama was 4-9 in 2003 and a paltry 12-12 over 06-07 before ripping of 24 straight regular season wins in 08-09. Player development doesn't happen overnight, but it doesn't take a decade either. Advances off the field under Brian Kelly and any kind of improvement in 2012 should land Notre Dame back in the the conversation of the nation's elite. The trick will be staying there.
This article is absurd- this is why SEC/USC fans have absolutely zero respect for ND fans- ND is not even in the same conversation as the other four programs mentioned, and may be once again undeserving of a preseason spot in the AP top 25, if they even get one. Do your research. Bowl games and national championships are the ultimate statistic in comparing football programs performance, much like playoff appearances, records, and championships in professional sports. Read and learn:
Bowl Ws- Bowl Ls- National championships (1992-present):
*ND record vs. USC (1992-present): 7-12-1
@TheSubwayDomer @ManCaveQB Great article. One question I love to ask haters is their definition of “irrelevance”. It’s usually crickets…
Back on topic, the big takeaway is that there is hope. The second is that the highs and lows of the other name programs really indicate serious shenanigans, the kind that get you an advantage, maybe even a title, but come back to bite you in the end-- only with some (USC) the bite isn't all that painful, apparently.
@SteveinIowa1 If USC didn't have Barkley- they'd be fucked. With that said, Kiffycakes is doing everything about as perfect as possible to keep the program from falling.
@SteveinIowa1 I disagree with the shenanigans take. I think flipping a program always has and always will be the combo or coaching, talent, and a little luck. When teams have inept coaches (Hackett, Ty, Dinardo, Shula) AND the ball bounces the wrong way a few times the season gets out of hand. Thing is NOBODY is immune. JoePa wasn't, Bowden wasn't, Holtz wasn't and ND's 2011 is prime example #1 of the consequences of being on the wrong side of "luck" every single time.
I take away from this that turnarounds can happen quickly anywhere, with me maybe needing to do this again with Stanford who obviously most closely compares to ND's off-field restrictions and endured LONG bouts of terrible play. Even under Harbaugh & Shaw in 2010-11, they got some fortuitous bounces to accompany Luck, Fleener, Merecic, and the OL toproduce quality seasons of dominance.
@Herring Bone On the subject of shenanigans, what would you say is the cleanest program to win a National Championship over the same time period you cover? I guess I'd probably say Nebraska. Miami is Miami. Tennessee has the Fulmer Award named after their coach. Nobody thinks Cam Newton was legit at Auburn. USC has had a BCS title vacated. Saban does skeezy stuff with over-signing and other stuff. Urb is Urb. tOSU doesn't care about tattoos and sits players at the beginning of a season instead of for a bowl game. Oklahoma still had Switzer and his outlaws at the beginning of this period, but I suppose Stoops has some more integrity. I guess for relatively clean programs winning a title over this time you could probably say Texas (since fallen on mediocre times) or LSU, in addition to Nebraska. So when I look at shenanigans helping out a program, I'm looking at Auburn, USC, tOSU, etc. etc.
In unrelated news, does the world stop spinning when Twitter goes down?
Yes it does.
Hey, it's my 1st column on SD! Again - not saying past 20 years haven't been frustrating, but this research template was marinating in my brain for a few weeks and I wanted to see how ND stacked up against these programs while haters continue to pound the "20 years of irrelevance" into the ground on TV and everywhere. I mean, LSU with 1/4 of past 20 seasons under .500 is nuts, no?
@Herring Bone It all ebbs and flows. Major programs like Texas went 30 or so years between championships. ND is in a dry spell for sure, but it's still not the longest stretch between titles for a major program. Nice work.
@BlogDavie Thanks Blog. I imagine you really do look like Bob Davie. I remain firm that programs like ND, Tennessee, UCLA, etc. have multiple "power runs" left in our lifetime. It's just got to all play out.
@TheSubwayDomer @mancaveqb hard to look @ those figures knowing 92,93 are counted when we know that's the end of the last great #ND period.
@TimmyHydeisLost @TheSubwayDomer Promise you, it didnt change the conclusions much at all. Gave Bama better stats (92 NC)
@ManCaveQB @thesubwaydomer 92 is 1st of 3 titles for Bama so hope it helped. Bottom line is those programs have recovered what bout #ND???
@ManCaveQB I'm a fan of Kelly, Diaco, Martin & they have to get it done. To much experience on that staff to go 8-5 again. Time to prove it
@ManCaveQB #ND tackles the QB they have 3 in a row over UM, 2 plays aways from BCS last year, so heck ya I'm very excited, #NoExcuses in '12
@TimmyHydeisLost So youre saying youre an optimist about 2012?? haha. I'm holding out hope, found the regular season stuff interesting.
@TheSubwayDomer @mancaveqb huge bottom line Davie,Weis no HC experience & Ty well he's Ty :) & Kelly can't lose 5 3 yrs & say progress
@TheSubwayDomer @mancaveqb but when was the last time #ND actually had 85 without walk on's on scholie? + they waste 5th yr spots @ times.
@TheSubwayDomer @mancaveqb exactly!!! I've been harping for years on that fact with SEC.Ive coached SoCal JC many years & they get a few.
@TimmyHydeisLost @ManCaveQB It’s a much different process. ND doesn’t have the luxury of JUCO or oversigning.
@ManCaveQB pg.2 in B&G yearbook by @BGI_LouSomogyi "6 Step Checklist" & it hits you in the face hard as a #NotreDame fan.When does it end?
@TimmyHydeisLost Thats the point. Recovery not impossible, ALL top programs fail terribly for extended stretches.
@TimmyHydeisLost @TheSubwayDomer Originally only used last 19 years, but it looked/sounded dumb. If we've been irrelevant for 20, made sense
@TheSubwayDomer @mancaveqb each of those teams worst 4 year record has come titles for all but #ND, ND gets 5 straight 5 loss years.