Brian Kelly is the head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a team that has long been independent of any conference and still won 11 national championships.
But now that the College Football Playoff exists and teams fighting and clawing to get into it from start to finish, some say that Notre Dame should not be eligible because of its independence, and should thus join a Power 5 conference. The most vocal of this idea are Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.
However, Kelly recently appeared on “The Rich Eisen Show” and was asked about these remarks. Sure enough, in a cool and collected manner, he managed to take his team’s critics down a few notches:
“You know, our situation is that we don’t play any I-AA teams. I think that when they decide to not play I-AA teams, then maybe we can be on an equal footing. But we’re going to play teams that give us a quality schedule and that’s all really we can control from year in and year out, and we’ll continue to have a robust schedule and those are the 12 games we’ll have. I think that when we measure up our schedules, I think you’ll find that ours stand out pretty good.”
It’s certainly hard to argue with Kelly, whose team does not play a single FCS program this season, nor has it during his tenure in South Bend. Clemson, on the other hand, opened its season against Wofford while Missouri played Southeast Missouri State. From top to bottom, though some teams are weaker than others, Notre Dame’s schedule is chock full of FBS opponents.
Thus, while some may be quick to judge Notre Dame for not joining a conference, perhaps they should remember that the Fighting Irish throw themselves to the wolves immediately year after year, while other teams in the Power 5 often need to open with a tune-up game against an FCS squad.
Not saying that Notre Dame is the greatest team on the planet as a result, but the fact that the team doesn’t play any FCS schools while others do is definitely something worth talking about.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports