A Rite of Fall
Football has an annual tradition that becomes more accentuated by the year. In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are annually hyped as Super Bowl contenders. In college football, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are advertised as playoff contenders. Yet, every year both teams fall flat.
A few weeks into the 2022 season, the Cowboys have seen their NFC East odds rise to +550. Notre Dame has been a disaster, losing to Ohio State and Marshall (26-21) before barely escaping California (24-17) in Week 3.
Will the Cowboys and Fighting Irish hype machine stop? These are teams living in the past, as they have accomplished virtually nothing title-wise over 20 years. Let’s take a look at each team’s recent history.
Big Delusions in Big D
In the 1970s, Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach was nicknamed Captain America. In turn, some began calling the Cowboys “America’s Team.” The name has stuck. However, many fans can’t stand America’s Team.
Is there any tradition like Dallas fans annually claiming it’s their year? Sorry to break it to you, but it hasn’t been the Cowboys’ year since 1996.
Since the 1996 Super Bowl win, Dallas is 4-11 in the playoffs. Furthermore, the Cowboys haven’t advanced past the Divisional Round since, meaning no NFC Championship appearances. Including the playoffs, they are 225-209 since 1996, which is a .518 win percentage.
Over the last 26 years, Dallas has been the definition of mediocrity. So where are these Super Bowl delusions coming from?
Notre Dame: Storied History is History
The Fighting Irish are essentially college football’s version of the Cowboys. Notre Dame’s storied history is undeniable, which includes traditions like iconic gold helmets and the “Play Like A Champion Today” sign. However, the Irish have had little success since their last national championship in 1988.
Since 1997, Notre Dame is 3-21 against top-five opponents. The Irish’s last major bowl win was in 1994. Since then, they are 0-10 in New Year’s Six bowl games. Only two of those losses were by one possession. In the College Football Playoff, Notre Dame lost 30-3 to Clemson in 2018 and 31-14 to Alabama in 2020.
Despite the program’s failures, Notre Dame is consistently highly regarded in college football rankings. As an independent program, the Fighting Irish usually play a weak schedule until they are embarrassed by a quality opponent. This season, the failure came quickly.
High Time to Stop Buying into the Hype
The Dallas Cowboys and Fighting Irish will always make headlines. These are two of the biggest sports brands in America. This month, Forbes cited Dallas as the most valuable sports team in the world at $5.7 billion. Plus, we all know how large the Cowboys fan base is. Notre Dame is in the same boat. According to 247 Sports, the Irish have college football’s eighth-most valuable program at a $120 million annual value. Like the Cowboys, Notre Dame has a massive fan base.
Due to money and popularity, there’s no hiding the Cowboys and Notre Dame. However, it’s time to stop buying into the hype. Why is Dallas consistently listed among Super Bowl favorites when the franchise struggles? Why are the Fighting Irish always respected in the national polls when, frankly, they don’t deserve the respect?
Neither team has done anything remarkable in over 20 years. The never-ending Cowboys and Notre Dame hype machines will never make sense.