Coaches Rank Irish 23rd

Notre Dame will start off the 2009 season ranked #23 in the Coaches Poll.

Notre Dame will open the 2009 ranked in the USA Today Coaches poll for the first time since 2006. The Pre-Season Coaches Poll, released on Friday ranks the Fighting Irish 23rd marking Notre Dame’s first appearance in the poll since the final poll of the 2006 season.

After a disappointing season which saw the Irish lose three games in which they held double digit leads in 2008, the Irish closed out strong with a dominating performance in the Hawaii Bowl. The bowl victory, combined with 15 returning starters and an improved coaching staff has expectations amongst Notre Dame fans raised this season and it seems the coaches agree that the Irish should be better in 2009.

This marks only the second time in the Weis Era that Notre Dame will start the year ranked in the Pre-Season Top 25 Coaches Poll. Notre Dame started Weis’s first season in 2005 outside the poll despite moving into it rather quickly after dispatching of Pitt in week 1. In 2006, Notre Dame entered the season with national championship hopes and started the season ranked 2nd behind Ohio State.  Notre Dame was not ranked prior to either of the last two seasons nor were they ranked at any time during that span.

Notre Dame is the only team to lose six or more games in 2008 ranked in the poll. LSU (#9) and North Carolina(#20),both with 8-5 records in 2008, are the only other team with 5 losses ranked.

Opponent Watch

Just one of Notre Dame’s opponents – USC – appears in the Pre-Season Coaches Poll. The Trojans will start the season off ranked 4th overall despite replacing a lot of talent and having to break in a new starting quarterback.

A few Irish opponents, however, can be found in the “Others receiving votes” section of the poll. Michigan State (#27), Pittsburgh (#30), Nevada (#40), Boston College (#50), Navy (#55), and Michigan (#58) all received at least one vote. Michigan, coming off a 3-9 season in Rich Rodriguez’s first season, in fact received just one vote in the poll.

Most Irish fans might be surprised to see Nevada ranked as highly as they are considering most see the week one contest as little more than a tuneup game.  Many college football analysts, however, have circled the game as a dangerous matchup for Notre Dame.  It will come as a surprise to most that the Wolfpack received more votes in the poll than both Boston College and Michigan.

Purdue, Washington, Washington State, UConn, and Stanford did not receive any votes.

The lack of representation from Notre Dame’s opponents in the poll gives further proof that Notre Dame will be facing a much lighter schedule than they did a year ago.

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  1. ND’s schedule is a coach saver. PSU’s schedule is sad, too. The BCS fosters a “only undefeated matters” mentality so you can’t really blame ND, PSU, or *any* school for doing what’s necessary to maximize bowl opportunities.

    I miss the days of non-conference rivalries.

  2. Lived 24 miles from Happy Valley, grew up a Lion hater. This could have been one of the biggest rivalries in the history of college football had they kept the games going. PSU hates Notre Dame because they wanted to be like Notre Dame and couldn’t. I have always said, if you live in PA, you either like the Irish or Penn State, nobody else matters. There are tons of Irish fans in and around PSU.
    Bring back the home and home on this one.

  3. Penn State’s schedule is embarrassing…so much so that there’s a chance that they could win out and still not play for the National Championship.

    You have no idea how much it bites to be an Irish diehard in Penn State country.

    1. I actually do have an idea of what it is like being a Irish diehard fan in PSU country. I lived an hr. away from Happy Valley from 6-18 yrs. old, a half hour away through my college years, and I am now working in an area an hr and a half away. And boy are the PSU fans the biggest Irish haters. I just can’t wait for the Irish to be BCS bowling while the Nittany Lions are looking from the outside-in. I just can’t believe that two ESPN analysts have PSU in a BCS bowl game. We will see, we will see.

    2. I feel your pain as well. I grew up in PSU country. It wasn’t bad up until about 1997 when we started to go downhill.

  4. Your comment that this season’s schedule is a ‘lighter one “, is only true IF you consider that the people voting KNOW what they are talking about. I would LOVE to see the year’s ending vote right now to compare this ‘edition’ of guesses against the actually finish. Luck.

    1. I think this year’s schedule is pretty weak in general. Not bashing ND for putting together a soft schedule though. It’s hard to know so far in advance that Michigan, Boston College, and Purdue will be experiencing down years. Five years ago this year’s schedule would have looked pretty daunting.

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