So what happens to them now? Again, no reason to feel sorry for them. They are Notre Dame. They'll be back towards the top of the rankings in August. They still print their own cash. And it appears as if they have sufficiently smothered those pesky sexual assault allegations. They'll sign a bunch of recruits and reload for more televised, second tier, overly endorsed football games. So all is good.
But maybe you can't convince Brian Kelly of that. After all, he knew before he got into the locker room the other night that his team was done. To paraphrase, he told the television audience that the only way they could win would be if Alabama didn't come out for the second half.
And now he's interviewed for the Phildadelphia Eagles job. So he knows. He understands what the media will apparently never get. As good as his defense was compared to previous years in South Bend, it's not ready for those types of football games. I heard Saban say Tuesday that people shouldn't be mistaken, the Fighting Irish are a "great team". That's what I heard him say, just as I heard countless other announcers, broadcasters, radio jocks, print jocks, and every employee ESPN bothered to put on a camera say leading up to the BCS game.
But what I saw was totally different. I'm not going to say Notre Dame will never be able to compete at that level. Never is a long time and even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time. But "America's team" isn't ready for SEC teams. That defense isn't better than most of the teams in our league, as many had protested last month.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are what WE knew they were: a suspect offense and an average defense that together made up a good enough team to beat their average schedule. I think Kelly ends up back in South Bend. He'll coach another good Irish team this fall. Millions will tune in each Saturday and slowly build them back up into a program that is ready for glory again. The networks and the newspapers will boost them over better teams in the rankings.
And their fans will say that they've got things turned around. Again.