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Top 25 poll brightens ugly weekend for Notre Dame football

Brian Kelly and Notre Dame have the school's best preseason football ranking in a decade. | AP

It was quite a weekend for Notre Dame football.

It began and ended with ignominy and shame.

Five Irish players — Max Redfield, Dexter Williams, Te’von Coney, Ashton White and Kevin Stepherson — were arrested Friday night after police found marijuana and a loaded handgun in their car during a traffic stop. In the early hours of Saturday morning, a sixth player, Devin Butler, was arrested and accused of punching and tackling a police officer outside a South Bend bar.

Redfield was dismissed from the team Sunday afternoon, and Butler was suspended indefinitely. Both are seniors at the school.

“The expectations we set for the members of our team are high, but they are especially so for the upperclassmen who are expected to provide leadership and a positive example to the other members of the team,” coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “Max and, at least at this stage in the review of his case, Devin have failed in that regard.”

In the midst of the negative Notre Dame news came a very different Irish football story. The preseason AP Top 25 poll, released Sunday morning, had Notre Dame at No. 10 — its highest preseason ranking since 2006.

Alabama and Clemson, which met in last season’s national title game, are Nos. 1 and 2, with Oklahoma and Florida State rounding out the top four.

As Kelly sees it, at least one of those teams will have to step aside to make room for the Irish.

“We have only one goal,” he said early in training camp, “and that is to be one of four teams selected for the playoff.”

Yet it will represent a rare achievement if Notre Dame finishes even one spot higher than 10th. As pointed out Sunday by the South Bend Tribune, none of the last 12 Irish teams to appear in the preseason Top 25 ended the season with a higher ranking — and nine of those 12 teams finished outside the Top 25.

That’s awful — on the part of the AP voters, that is. Clearly, they’ve overestimated the Irish a few too many times.


Michigan State and Iowa, which met in last season’s Big Ten title game, are ranked 12th and 17th, respectively.

Both are looking up at — surprise, surprise — Ohio State and Michigan. The Buckeyes are at No. 6, one spot ahead of the Wolverines.

But, hey, why should Michigan State be higher than third in its own East division, anyway? The last three Spartans teams merely were 24-2 against conference opponents.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.