DAME'S MYTHICAL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
NCAA does not conduct a national championship in Division I-A football
and is not involved in the selection process.
However, this doesn't stop some Irish idiots from claiming up to 23
national championships. Congratulations on the three outright titles
the Irish deserve.
Let us take a closer look at the championships the Irish
can claim with some validity:
Notre Dame has a legitimate claim to #1 if you
believe their record is accurate. One
can question the legitimacy of the Irish's victory against the
With Miami trailing 31-24
and facing a
critical fourth-and-7 from deep in Irish territory midway through the
fourth quarter, Walsh connected with Miami running back Cleveland Gary
streaking across the middle of the field at the Irish 11-yard line.
Gary picked up the first down and turned up-field but was tackled at
the Notre Dame 1-yard line. The ball came loose at the end of the play
and the ball was recovered by Notre Dame linebacker Michael
Stonebreaker. But that play has become one of the most innacurately
remembered and described plays in college football history. Even major
accounts of the greatest games in college football history routinely
botch the description. Lou Holtz got it wrong in his autobiography,
calling it a fumble. Gary was ruled down at the one yard line. It was
not ruled a fumble. But the split crew of referees mistakenly believed
it was fourth and goal, not fourth and 7. Incredibly, the ball was
given to Notre Dame on downs. Jimmy Johnson can be seen on the tape of
the game, coming out onto the field and motioning first down, while
saying "first down, it's a first down." The placement of the ball
verifies the officials got it wrong, since the ball is placed where it
was when Gary's knees went down, not where the ball was when
Stonebreaker recovered. Here is a section of an article in the Ft.
Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel from October 18, 1988: "In my mind, I believe
we probably made a mistake in giving Notre Dame the football," the
official told the News. "There was confusion as to whether there was a
fumble or not, but there was also a great question about giving Notre
Dame the football over on downs. That's why they got the football."
1977 - NO
There are five teams which have a legitimate
to #1. Notre Dame can make that claim, but so can one loss Alabama,
Arkansas, Penn State and Kentucky. Investigating a little further, we
see that both Notre Dame and Kentucky lost to 5-6 teams, which should
probably eliminate them from consideration. Alabama lost to a 3 loss
Nebraska team, Penn State lost to a 1 loss Kentucky team and Arkansas
lost to a 1 loss Texas team. If one wishes to use the same criteria of
transivity to say that Notre Dame is better than Arkansas because of
their games versus Texas, then perhaps we should consider Alabama's and
Notre Dame's common opponent, Ole Miss. Alabama won, Notre Dame lost.
Does this deserve to be counted as a national championship? No. It
should be shared at best.
1973 - NO
There are five undefeated teams this year:
State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Unfortunately,
Michigan and Ohio State tied each other and Oklahoma also had a tie
ruining their perfect season, which leaves Notre Dame and Penn State.
Notre Dame beat 4 teams with winning records: USC (9-2-1), Pitt
(6-5-1), Air Force (6-4) and Alabama (11-1). Penn State faced 7 teams
with winning records: Stanford (7-4), Air Force (6-4), West Virginia
(6-5), Maryland (8-4), NC State (9-3), Pitt (6-5-1) and LSU (9-3). Does
Notre Dame deserve to count 1973 as undisputed national champion?
No. It should
be shared at best.
1966 - NO
Notre Dame and Michigan State had identical records, 10-0-1, with both
team's tie occurring against each other in a 10-10 game known as one of
the greatest games played in college football. On the surface, that
should suggest a split title, since neither team could beat the other.
Michigan State faced three teams with winning records; Notre Dame faced
four - both teams had sketchy schedules. What about Alabama? Bama had a
perfect season, 11-0-0, and faced six teams with winning records.
Notre Dame had the best record, tying one game, and were ranked #2 in
the final AP poll prior to bowl games - which featured #1 Maryland
losing to Oklahoma.
1949 - NO
Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Army all finished
perfect records. Notre Dame beat 5 teams with winning records, Army
beat 3 teams with winning records, and Oklahoma beat 5 teams with
winning records. It's close, but Oklahoma probably played a tougher
schedule, making them in all likelihood the best team that year.
1947 - NO
Notre Dame, Michigan, SMU and Penn State all were undefeated, but SMU
and Penn State had ties blemishing their records. Notre Dame beat 3
winning teams, while Michigan beat 6 winning teams. Again, at best a
split title, with the edge going to the Wolverines.
1946 - NO
Notre Dame and Army were ranked 1-2 in the AP poll prior to bowl games.
Notre Dame had a 8-0-1 record, while Army had a 9-0-1 record. Like the
1966 season, Army and Notre Dame tied each other, with the score being
0-0. Like 1966, Notre Dame got the advantage in the polls over a team
they tied, even though that team had no losses. And like 1966, there
was another team that was perfect and ignored: Georgia.
1943 - NO
How could anyway claim this title? Notre Dame, Iowa Navy Pre-Flight,
Michigan, Navy, Duke, Del Monte Pre-Flight and March Field
all 1 loss teams in the AP top ten. Purdue was the only undefeated team
in the AP. Notre Dame lost to a two loss Great Lakes Navy team. Purdue
beat that team, but played a pathetic schedule.
1930 - NO
In 1930, you have two undefeated teams, Alabama and Notre Dame that
both play killer schedules. This should be considered a split title.
1929 - NO
Notre Dame had a perfect record in 1929, but then again, so did Purdue
and several others. This should be considered a split title.
1924 - YES
Notre Dame was the only undefeated major college team.