The College Football Playoff played this week signaled the end of the NCAA fall sports campaign in the 2018-19 Division 1 Learfield Directors’ Cup competition.
Notre Dame finished ninth in the fall standings by scoring 280 points in the first phase of the competition, with 153 different schools (including FCS football) tallying points. The second phase is the winter sports, and the third and final one is the spring competition.
The 280 points — with 100 the maximum a team can score from a national title — came from four sports:
• 75 points for a No. 5 finish in football under head coach Brian Kelly, the recipient of several Coach of the Year honors. Notre Dame was the lone school in the top 10 to also finish in the top 10 in football.
• 73 points in men’s soccer, which advanced to the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) under first year head coach Chad Riley. The program also had two Academic All-Americans in Thomas Ueland (first team) and Jack Casey (second team).
• 70.5 points for a No. 8 finish by women’s cross country, with Anna Rohrer and Jessica Harris earning All-American notice in the national meet.
• 61.5 points for a No. 14 placement in men’s cross country, which also captured the ACC Championship under head coach Matt Sparks.
Notre Dame did not score in volleyball and women’s soccer, and does not have other fall sports included in the standings, such as field hockey or men’s water polo, where USC earned 100 points for a national title while Stanford received 90 as the runner-up.
Each school can count its top-scoring 19 sports toward the final point total, but four of the sports have to be baseball, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball. The competition began in 1994, and the Stanford Cardinal has captured the Cup every school year since 1995.
Naturally, Stanford was easily at the top of the pack at the end of the fall with 541 points while Michigan was a distant second at 380.5.
The ACC had the most representation in the top 10 with Wake Forest 6th, Duke 7th, Notre Dame 9th and North Carolina State 10th.
This fall’s results for Notre Dame easily exceeded last year’s when it placed 20th with 205 points. However, thanks to national titles in fencing and women’s basketball, plus a trip to the championship game in hockey’s Frozen Four, the Fighting Irish vaulted all the way up to No. 6 at the end of the winter competition. A less productive spring resulted in a tie for No. 22 among 291 schools that scored points.
Notre Dame had a school-record three consecutive top-10 placements in 2013 (No. 9), 2014 (No. 3, the school’s best showing ever) and 2015 (No. 10).