An observation and some thoughts from a guy who roots for a couple of heavily scrutinized teams: Notre Dame and Central Florida.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a Notre Dame fan. In my hometown, it’s what you were. It’s what my friends and family did. So it was what I did. Of course, I took it to a level beyond most. I tend to be more obsessive about the things I care about. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I do know it’s a thing, though.
The other thing is where I found myself going to college. That would be the University of Central Florida. Now, being the obsessed college football fan that I am, I became obsessed with UCF. I still am.
Frankly, I’m obsessed with both teams.
This leaves me in a unique, and rather precarious situation, at times. As most people know, UCF has declared war on the established blue bloods, and the inherent system of college football. Notre Dame is one of the poster boys of “establishment” college football. They sit alongside Alabama, Ohio St, Michigan and a small handful of others.
Now, I’m not interested in talking about if UCF is right for doing this, how good they are, or their self-proclaimed (and recognized by the NCAA) National Championship. I’m not interested in comparing recent BCS/NY6 bowl success. I’m also not very interested in comparing tradition, or potential future success.
I’m interested in noting that while it seems most UCF and Notre Dame fans don’t get along, they’re in an incredibly similar position. That’s not necessarily what everyone wants to hear, but this is the truth. Both fanbases and teams are currently being told by a ton of people that they did not belong this year, have not belonged recently, and will not belong in the future.
Despite the historical differences between the two programs, both find themselves in a fight to be respected. Notre Dame fans might not want to believe this is true, but it is. Now, whether annoying or not, it’s time to start seeing things from each other’s shoes. It might even be time to advocate for one another.
In college football, perception is reality. The perception of UCF is that they’re annoying wannabes with a weak schedule. The perception of Notre Dame is annoying has beens who have a weak schedule and need to join a conference. In other words, a large number of people don’t believe that either team has any business in the College Football Playoff.
This is a sport where traditional powers hold the power and up and comers fight for it. Notre Dame could help bring about change. This change includes an expanded playoff, which Brian Kelly says there is “An appetite to begin dialogue.”
He’s right. If not, the perception of both schools and their schedules could keep them on the outside looking in, even on years when both might deserve a shot at the College Football Playoff.