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August 4, 2001
Top 10 Reasons Why Coaches Poll is Good News/Bad News
By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService
There is good news and bad news in the latest prognostications about the upcoming college football season. USA Today published its first coaches poll and Notre Dame. Bob Davie's Fighting Irish are ranked No. 16.
1. It's bad news for any Irish fan hoping that this would be the year Notre Dame returns to the elite of the college football ranks—no matter how far-fetched and fan-based such a hope must be. It's also good news because it is about in line with every other prediction in the pre-season football predictions—so at least the perception out there is that the Irish won't fall to some of the depths Davie's teams have previously seen.
2. Being ranked 16th by the college coaches is good news because in the land of coachspeak it doesn't put any undue pressure on the boys to live up to heightened and, maybe, unrealistic expectations. The bad news is that Notre Dame coaches and fans have come to believe that not having heightened expectations is "good news."
3. The college football coaches poll is good news because only Nebraska and Tennessee among Notre Dame's opponents are ranked ahead of the Irish and are the only Notre Dame opponents ranked in the Coaches Top 25. . (Nebraska, No. 4; and Tennessee, No. 7). That's good news because maybe Notre Dame's schedule isn't really as tough as advertised and the Irish might escape by splitting those two games. It's bad news because if the Irish falter in both, there's little chance for the upside in beating middle-of-the-road opponents; and, for doomsayers, there is a big downside in losses to nonranked opponents.
4. Actually, the rankings are good news for the Irish because even though only their two toughest foes are ranked in the Top 25, five other opponents are ranked in the Top 40 (Purdue, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Southern California and Stanford) and a sixth (Michigan State) in the Top 50. This is good news because some of these teams may prove better than advertised and provide the Irish with stiff-enough competition to catapult them in polls should they lose both to Nebraska and Tennessee—negating our Point No. 3. This is bad news because it shows that the schedule may be as tough as advertised and the Irish could be in for a four-loss, or worse, season.
5. The USA thumbnail sketches of the teams accompanying the coaches rankings are good news because it points to the stability of QB Matt LoVecchio and his maturation. It is bad news because it says that Carlyle Holliday and Jared Clark could supplant LoVecchio as beams in Davie's eye and, hence, have the Irish led by three sophomore quarterbacks, instead of one with game experience. On the other hand, that may be good news because maybe Holliday is a gamebreaking Michael Vick, like Davie and Irish fans hope.
6. The thumbnail sketch on Notre Dame is good news because it says that Tony Fisher, onetime prep Player of the Year, could be the Irish answer at tailback. It is bad news because it makes one shudder if the perception is that Julius Jones has seen his peak. (We don't believe so).
7. The thumbnail sketch is good news because it says that David Givens and Javin Hunter pace the receiving corps. It's bad news because it's a reminder that Joey Getherall, and all his heart, is gone.
8. The thumbnail sketch is good news because it says that defensive ends Grant Irons and Anthony Weaver will spearhead the defense. It's bad news because as nice a guy as Irons is, he still hasn't played up to his potential—though not necessarily any fault of his own.
9. An accompanying USA Today story on the high pay of college football coaches is good news because it does not list Davie among the 22 caoches who have contracts that could pay them $1 million or more. It is bad news because there are many who believe Davie isn't worth $1 million.
10. And finally, the USA Today college football package is bad news because it notes that Danny Sheridan lists the Irish as a 75:1 longshot in winning the national championship and that's another indication of how far the program has slid in the eyes of outsiders. The 75:1 odds is good news because it's a helluva bet should lightning strike in Lincoln like it did in Ann Arbor in 1993.