An extremely quick look at whether you're doomed or not (you probably are)
After reaching the national title game in 2012, Notre Dame fell back to earth, so to speak, in 2013. They beat Michigan State (MSU's only loss and what had to be the most pass-interference penalties ever used in one game), but they lost to Michigan, Oklahoma, Stanford, and Pitt. Yes, Pitt. Really. Playing without Everett Golson (and with my second-favorite Notre Dame quarterback, Tommy Rees), Notre Dame had some struggles on offense, but regressing from a 12-1 season is bound to happen.
Golson is back this year after learning some life lessons or whatever, but Notre Dame will be breaking in two new coordinators (Mike Denbrook on offense, Brian VanGorder on defense) while trying to gain some consistency on both sides of the ball. That job got a hell of a lot harder when the school announced last week that three starters and one role player were being held out of practice while being investigated as part of an cheating scandal. A very inspiring cheating scandal, but a cheating scandal nonetheless.
But the problems for Notre Dame go deeper than "our quarterback last year had the innate ability to heave the ball into the waiting hands of the opposing team" and "despite our record-breaking television contract and Touchdown Jesus we are basically the same assholes as you, we just pay a lot of money to go to school in a dry county like a bunch of dang yahoos".
Notre Dame has a fatal case of ACC Wasting Syndrome.
See, because Notre Dame wants to remain independent while joining a conference (like the girl who wants to date you but also date other people and never looks you in the eyes in public because of 'appearances' or something), Notre Dame's schedule makes absolutely no sense. In 2014, Notre Dame will play Michigan, Syracuse, Stanford, Florida State, Arizona State, Louisville, and USC. Their home schedule is bizarre. It's like if the ACC took DMT, but without the visions of the afterlife.
Notre Dame will lose to Syracuse and beat Florida State. Notre Dame will beat Stanford and lose to Louisville. Notre Dame will win a national title but lose it because they had an ineligible player who was also a big red dog. This is Notre Dame.
They will have five-star recruits commit holding penalties on crucial third downs. They will have a wide receiver of doom (I will someday find where you live, Golden Tate). They will lose when they should win, win when they should lose, and make NBC nearly unwatchable for four hours every Saturday. They will be excellent and middling and good and bad all at once, and they will go 9-4 forever.
Using only cold logic, is Notre Dame doomed? If by "doomed," you mean "bound for a meh bowl game," then yes. If you mean "doomed" as in "career-ending season for Brian Kelly", then no. Notre Dame has too many weapons on both sides of the ball and too many obvious opportunities for wins on the schedule to fall too far.
Asking only the Catholic woman deep inside your soul who still gets a little anxious during Holy Week, is Notre Dame doomed? No, but you certainly are. You could have had it all as a Latin professor, but instead you chose the bright lights and seedy fame of writing for a sports blog. Shame.