Paul Finebaum, the most miserable man in college football, reminded Notre Dame fans just how miserable he is on Sunday with a lazy take on Notre Dame and the College Football Playoffs. The ESPN caricature who knows as much about college football as a random drunk guy at Corby’s said on Sunday the Notre Dame should, “never be allowed back to the playoffs after their embarrassing loss last year to Clemson.”
The hot take came after Finebaum was asked if Notre Dame was going to return to the playoffs this year. Finebaum then went into one of his characteristic miserable rants about how Notre Dame game was going to lose to Georgia and then lose to Michigan (lol on that one Pauly Boy). That’s all fine. He’s wrong about Michigan, but that’s fine.
But then he dropped that nugget about how Notre Dame should never be allowed back to the Playoffs. And that’s where I take issue.
It’s fair to criticize Notre Dame for their performance against Clemson. I certainly did enough roasting on Twitter during the game, but that narrative changed, at least a little, a week later when Clemson did the same thing to big, bad Alabama. Finebaum wouldn’t dare say as much about ‘Bama though.
By Finebaum’s logic, the list of programs that should “never be allowed” back wouldn’t just be Notre Dame. It would also include Michigan State, Washington, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Oklahoma. All of those teams have lost at least one playoff game by 20 or more points in the last five years.
This isn’t the first time that Finebaum has launched some shots at Notre Dame. He has long had a problem with the program – specifically with head coach Brian Kelly who might only be eclipsed by Urban Meyer on Finebaum’s hate meter.
Look, Finebaum is a troll and a miserable human being who has somehow developed a faithful following down in SEC country, and I’m sure his base will eat up his latest Notre Dame trash talk. The problem for Finebaum, in this case, is that he is essentially giving Notre Dame a hard time for doing precisely what Alabama did a week later. The Crimson Tide lost worst to Clemson than Notre Dame did.
Notre Dame will undoubtedly face a lot extra scrutiny any time they allow for their fate to be left up to interpretation. If the Irish were to finish the regular season undefeated this year, or in any year, they are going to the playoffs regardless of what pin-heads like Finebaum spout off about on ESPN which has turned into nothing more than a Buzzfeed of Sports with fewer listicles and quizzes.
Now, if Notre Dame finishes any regular season with a loss, they will have an uphill battle for a playoff spot regardless of what their other 11 games showed. That is the price tag of being independent and the result of having embarrassing losses in the 2013 BCS Title game and the 2018 Cotton Bowl.
Amazingly, in the same video segment, Finebaum did state that he thought Notre Dame could get to 10-2 this year which is an improvement from the national media narrative around the possibility of Notre Dame finishing the season unranked. That is a scenario that is more optimistic outcome than some Notre Dame fans I know have.