Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of posts about the five major college football conferences, focusing on one conference per week over the next five weeks. We introduced the concept of the series in this post last Friday. Each Monday, our writers will discuss their least favorite teams in each conference, and today we begin with the Pac 12. Also, due to our extreme bias as irrational fans of Notre Dame, we decided that for our least favorite teams in the Pac 12, we had to choose a school other than USC, which would have been the unanimous choice.
Aside from USC, I don’t really harbor strong feelings–good or bad–for any Pac 12 program. I’ve only been to the west coast one time in my life, and it was an overall pleasant experience. I don’t know anyone who went to a Pac 12 school, and I’ve never been to any games on a Pac 12 campus. That being said, this pick is based solely on the fact that a certain Pac 12 school has become a huge pain in my favorite team’s ass. Plus, the tree. No one likes the tree.
From 2002 through the 2008 season, Notre Dame beat Stanford seven straight times. Then, in 2009 Stanford broke the streak by beating ND on the way to an 8-5 season, its first winning season in several years. We know the rest of the story: from 2010 on, Stanford has been really, really good and has become (arguably) the toughest, most hard-nosed team outside of the SEC. What was once a guaranteed win has become one of the toughest games on the ND schedule year in and year out.
Has head coach David Shaw taken the “tough” identity a little too far? Maybe, if this tweet from Paul Myerberg is accurate. Will too much toughness be the end of Stanford’s excellent recent run (yeah, I’m reaching…)?
Only recruiting the “toughest guy on the team” has some interesting implications:
Shaw can never recruit two guys who played together in high school — only one can be the toughest!
Stanford is going to have the toughest punters and kickers in football history… but will they be able to kick?
As a Notre Dame fan, I can only hope that musclebound, inaccurate kickers lead Stanford’s descent back to the ranks of the cellar dwellers.