October 15, 2005 is probably a day Irish head coach Charlie Weis would like to forget. The Irish hosted their rival, USC, on that glorious day and played with the heart of a champion. They lost, but Irish fans will never forget the way the Irish played on that given day.
Ever since that day, Irish fans have been looking for that team. The names and numbers for the most part remain the same, but the Irish can't seem to find that same chemistry, same emotion, and more importantly, same execution they had on that given day.
The bar was set that day. Set for Charlie Weis, and set for Irish fans. Expectations are ultimately what matters, regardless of whether they're justified or not.
Despite constant reminders and clues along the way, we as Irish fans simply refuse to believe this Irish team is what it is…..a top 25 team looking to join the elite teams in college football, but not there yet.
The pundits have been trying to tell us. Other fans have been trying to tell us, but most simply refused to believe this team is not an elite team….despite the evidence.
"That team, the team that showed up on October 15, 2005, they're in there somewhere," Irish fans want to believe.
Saturday's game was another reminder of just how far the Irish have yet to go, and how much a lack of talent and depth can hurt a football team.
This team is the team we refuse to believe they are. They're a good football team with a lot of high-character kids playing hard.
They're not a great football team.
Unfortunately, the expectations have been that they are.
This team has accomplished a lot in 2006. They're 10-2 with a possible B.C.S. berth in sight. They've beaten everyone they should've beaten. They've fought hard when the chips were down. They've represented Notre Dame well. They deserve our support.
But it has been decided. The Irish are not a top five team at this point. Any amount of argument from Irish fans would be silly.
But they do have a chance to prove they belong in the top 10 by playing and beating a B.C.S. opponent….something they haven't done but are capable of doing.
Until the Irish beat a top 10 team, a B.C.S.-quality team, they have no argument to suggest they belong there, either. Accept that, Irish fans.
This team will get their shot in January. Until then, they're not there yet, and don't get upset when others suggest they're undeserving to be in the B.C.S. Until Notre Dame beats a B.C.S. team, or proves they belong on the same field as a B.C.S team, they're not there yet.
We'll hear it starting today: "The Irish don't belong in the B.C.S." It's a bitter pill to swallow, but until the Irish have a good showing in a bowl game, until they prove they belong, the doubters will be out in full force.
While I believe this is a top 10 team, they haven't proven that yet. The only way they can is with a good showing in January. Until then, keep saying to yourself: "They're not there yet."
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