The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Dear Jan - Part One

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 have fallen.

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 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.


  • At 7:23 PM, September 09, 2005, Anonymous jan said…

    Wow, my very own rant - cool.
    Mike, for someone how hates the Irish, you sure spend a lot of time thinking about that program. I think thou dost protest too much . . .

  • At 11:15 PM, September 09, 2005, Blogger Mike said…

    Jan - You have a really warped since of reality (which is apparently based on false assumptions - including some about me, apparently). I suppose that since you don't have a reasonable response to my thoughts you've had to resort for calling out my alleged hatred of Notre Dame. That's ridiculous.

    Notre Dame is a non-entity in my life, on any level. You brought up the subject, so I addressed it. If you hadn't brought it up, I wouldn't have thought of any of this or mentioned any of it. The fact that I came up with some thoughts (coherent or not) in a short period of time is really more a reflection on you than it is me (you went spouting off about schedule strength while admittedly now knowing what you were talking about).

    But turning it around on me does make for a convenient way for you to back out of an argument that you would have clearly lost (actually, one that you have lost).

    But you can win too, because I will drop the subject and allow you to continue to delude yourself with the illusion you've bought into about your favorite university. That's your problem - not mine. It's not something that I care about.

    Please do me a favor and don't bring up Notre Dame or your personal agenda on this site. It's not needed and it's not wanted.

    And please remember that you brought this pathetic subject up. I didn't. I hadn't thought of Notre Dame or anything related to their football program in a long time. Your comments made me do so. Now that I've responded to them with a dose of reality you've resorted to a personal attack on me.

    I'm done with this subject. If you want to talk about Notre Dame, get you own site or find someone who cares to talk about it. That site is not this one and that person is not me.

  • At 3:05 PM, September 10, 2005, Anonymous Jan said…

    Nice of you to drop the subject when ND beats #3 Michigan AT MICHIGAN.

    I thought it would be fun to have an exchange about football. But you take your sports too seriously, so having fun with it is not possible. Don't worry about anymore comments from me. I've visited your site for the last time.

  • At 4:00 PM, September 10, 2005, Blogger Mike said…

    Jan - I'm sorry that you think that I've chosen to drop this line of conversation in light of the outcome of today's game. However, that is not the case. As you can see from the time stamp on my previous comment, I made my statement well before today's kickoff.

    Congratulations on today's win (maybe it was your contribution to the Athletic Department or something else that you've done for the University over the years that has helped to turn the program around). I'm sure that ND's first road win at Michigan since 1993 is a sign that ND is on the road back to football prominence.

    Today's win was legitimately big and most likely bodes well for the future of the ND program (wow - that sounds like what you used to say to me when Miami went to back to back National Championship games, or beat Florida, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, etc, etc on the road... oh wait, you had no interest in talking football then).

    I hope that good things continue to come to the school that you care so much about.

    But how could it have been fun to have an exchange about football? You are semi-informed about Notre Dame and uninformed about the rest of college football (based on your statement about "strength of schedule"--seriously, do you listen to announcers for insight like that?-- and how you confused Florida and Florida State).

    It's not that I take sports too seriously. If you knew me well enough, you would know that is not the case. Sports are not life and death. Sports are for fun and for free time. However, when I do choose to talk about sports, I like to be informed. You are a bandwagon fan (talking about your team only when things are going well), who spouts off about their team with an ill-informed opinion.


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