From a loyal reader (left in the comments):
Would you like to compare schedules? I'm no expert, but the announcers displayed ND's schedule for this year claiming it was one of the toughest in the nation. I don't recall hearing anything like that for Miami or Florida.
Really? You want to compare schedules? That's pretty weak. You don't have anything better to hang your hat on than strength of schedule
? Wow. Oh, how the mighty
A lot goes into strength of schedule, and much of it is luck. Many of the bigger "home-and-home" series (like Notre Dame - Tennessee or Miami - Colorado) are scheduled years, if not decades (such as the Oklahoma - Ohio State series, which isn't scheduled to begin until 2018 or so), in advance of when they'll actually be played. As you well know, a national power can become nothing more than an also-ran in that amount of time.
In addition, most schools play in a conference, which takes away much of the ability to schedule challenging games. Still, Miami will play 5 teams that are currently ranked and 7 teams that appeared in bowl games last year. Notre Dame faces 4 ranked teams (5 if you count Pittsburgh) and 4 that appeared in bowls. The difference is slight, but I don't think it makes your argument.
And I'm sorry to bring up a subject like bowl games. I know that it's been a really long time since "your" beloved Notre Dame won a bowl game (1994 was ND's last bowl win. Since then, ND has appeared in seven bowl games in eleven seasons; last year's loss in the Insight.com Bowl was Notre Dame's second during this losing streak to noted power Oregon State. The improvement Notre Dame showed against the Beavers was definitely encouraging - in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame lost 41-9. Last year, across town from the site of the Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame narrowed the gap to just a 17 point deficit).
That said, it's difficult to assess strength of schedule this early in the season, since most of the schedule hasn't been played. Unexpected strong teams will emerge and other teams will fail to meet expectations.
Did you mean to reference the Florida schedule? What's the connection there? I don't think you want to go there. You clearly aren't aware of the number of ACC teams ranked in the Top 25, so I highly doubt that you're aware of the number of SEC teams that are ranked. I'll assume that you confused Florida and Florida State in your comment.
It's silly to do, but you brought it up, so let's look at Miami and Notre Dame's 2005 schedules:
Notre Dame’s 2005 Opponents
At Pittsburgh - The Panthers were ranked in the pre-season polls, but dropped out after losing their opener to Notre Dame. Amazingly, many Notre Dame fans are considering this to be a big win. I find this hard to understand - as the Chicago portion of Notre Dame fans (who should at least be familiar with Bears’ history) have apparently forgotten the damage that Dave Wannstedt can inflict on a program. He ruined the Bears. Then Wanny drove the Miami Dolphins into the ground. Maybe he’s doing the same to Pitt.
At Michigan - The Wolverines are highly ranked and on paper this looks like a challenging game. Traditionally, at least in the past decade or so, Michigan has been overrated in pre-season and early season polls.
Michigan State - Generally picked to finish near the middle of the pack in the Big 10, well behind the big boys.
At Washington - This is likely a game that was scheduled awhile back when Washington was a powerhouse. The only reason this game is interesting is because of the Huskies new coach - but talk of him merits its own piece (you know, how a classy place like Notre Dame handled his dismissal so honorably).
At Purdue - ND caught some bad luck here in catching a Purdue program that’s on the rise. If the Boilermakers keep putting solid teams together they’ll likely find that Notre Dame isn’t so willing to continue this series… or at least that Notre Dame will be less willing to travel to Purdue (that seems to be ND’s M.O. with the big programs that they tend to avoid).
USC - A traditional rivalry game. USC is up right now. This game will be a good measuring stick for ND.
BYU - Maybe this game was scheduled when the Cougars were a power. But it’s just another game.
Tennessee - The Vols were highly regarded in the pre-season, but struggled against a weak UAB team in the opening week. In all likelihood the Vols are for real. UT is a program that’s doesn't run away from any program. They'll play anyone, anywhere, and they'll even travel.
Navy - There’s some nice sentiment here in playing a service academy, but this game is a joke. Notre Dame should win this game with their scout team.
Syracuse - Some Big East teams were left scrambling to fill in their schedules and it looks like Syracuse found a match with Notre Dame. Nothing to see here.
At Stanford - Another “rivalry” for Notre Dame in that they play regularly, but the Cardinal are no powerhouse.Miami Hurricanes’ 2005 Schedule
At Florida State - While the Noles have been down (relatively) since appearing in the 2000 National Championship game, they still win bowl games and turn out NFL draft picks.
At Clemson - Death Valley is a tough place to play. The Tigers are ranked and are led by a senior QB who would likely be in the NFL this year if not for a shaky junior campaign.
Colorado - This game is a continuation of a series that started in the early 90s. It’s just taken awhile to get the return game scheduled. Back when this home-and-home was set up, Colorado was pretty dominant. You might remember it
(yeah, I know - there was no clip; Rocket really broke that one).
South Florida - This game was scheduled for two reasons: the previously scheduled opponent (Houston) backed out late last year (this was originally scheduled when Houston was once again an up-and-coming program and their Athletic Director was Miami's former AD) and to get the Canes a presence in Tampa (UM travels to Tampa in 2006), which is an important area to recruit, but which is largely owned by Florida and, to a lesser degree, Florida State. USF is a non-entity in Division I football. Miami is doing an instate school a favor by playing this game.
Duke - One of the benefits to being in a conference is that you get an easy game or two on the schedule. The payback comes during basketball season.
At Temple - As part of Miami's exit from the Big East, the Canes had to agree to play this game with Temple, in Philly, at cavernous Lincoln Financial Field - where the Owls rarely play. The Owls are planning on selling a bunch of tickets to this game.
Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets are ranked. This should be a good game.
North Carolina - If not for last year's upset, this game wouldn't be interesting. UNC will be decent, but this isn't a game the Canes would schedule if it weren't for the conference.
At Virginia Tech - Lane Stadium (like Death Valley and Michigan) is another very tough place to play. If this is a night game, the stadium will rock. Plus, the Hokies are an excellent team. This has become an exciting rivalry.
At Wake Forest - At least the Demon Deacons have high standards for their athletes that actually mean something (too much to get into here - but this will be a separate piece one day).
Virginia - Another ranked opponent for the Canes, despite that the Cavaliers lost a number of high draft picks to the NFL after last season. This should be a good game.
Well, that's it for the 2005 regular season schedules. Sorry that this isn't very thorough, but I put it together pretty quickly.
Thanks for this opportunity to talk about Notre Dame football. I've been looking for a way to work in a piece about Notre Dame's fradulent claim that they don't lower their admissions standards for athletes. I'll bring you published proof that this is false. Start lining up your excuses and denials. It would be appreciated if you could support them with facts.