This is just priceless. I’m not a big Rick Reilly fan but this one takes the cake for saying something that seemed like common knowledge for over a decade and warming it up as some kind of brave declaration. The things is that Reilly waited until about one week before that common knowledge was proved completely wrong.

Two weeks before the college season started, ESPN writer Rick Reilly wrote a piece called Demoting Notre Dame in which he finally labeled Notre Dame as irrelevant.

I once loved Notre Dame football.

My dad went to Notre Dame and flunked out and I still loved Notre Dame football. I loved Lindsey Nelson telling me “neither team advanced the ball so we move to further action in the fourth quarter” while my mom was yelling, “Get ready for mass!”

But I grew up.

I don’t love Notre Dame football anymore. Notre Dame football has been living a lie, as Lou Holtz likes to say. Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, nothing happened. The echoes are in REM sleep. It has failed to advance the ball.

If I told you about a team that had lost 10 of its last 12 bowl games, had dropped nine of its last 10 to USC, had led the nation only in disappointment, you’d figure that team would be halfway down the Mountain West standings. But Notre Dame still gets perks and love from the NCAA and BCS as though the year is 1946.

I’m declaring an end to all that.

In Europe, if you play too much bad soccer for too many years, you get “relegated” to a lower division, moved down, demoted. It just happened to the Blackburn Rovers.

It needs to happen to Notre Dame football.

You’ve got to love this guy. Two weeks before Notre Dame starts a magical undefeated season this guy declares them dead. And he’s paid as a sportswriter.

He continues:

Somebody needs to stick a pin in the still-inflated Golden Dome. Look, the ACC wants Notre Dame. Would die to have it. But word is, Notre Dame won’t go if it has to share TV and gate revenue with the rest of the conference, like everybody else. The Irish people love to share. The Irish athletic department? Not so much.

If college football won’t put its foot down and force Notre Dame to join a conference — as every other sport at Notre Dame has — then the least it can do is stop paying it a bowl bonus of $1.3 million when it DOESN’T go to a bowl game. That’s right: Notre Dame gets a $1.3 million bowl bonus simply for dressing up the stupid leprechaun.

I hear what the Domers are saying. They’re saying, “Notre Dame doesn’t have to be in a conference. Notre Dame is unlike any other football power. Notre Dame is a national brand.”

Sure, and girls are still wearing leg warmers.

Notre Dame is not a national brand any more than USC, Alabama or Stanford. A national brand? What would its slogan be, “Dominating Navy just about every year”? What kind of national brand loses to freaking Tulsa (2010)?…

You are not royalty anymore, Notre Dame. Turn in your tiara.

When your NBC contract expires in 2015, do the right thing and don’t renew. Lower some expectations until you can turn this thing around. And you’re a Mars Rover trip from turning it around.

Wait, what? Coach Brian Kelly is the savior? Really? Because he looks to me like he’s doing a very good impression of Bob Davie so far. He’s opened with back-to-back 8-5 seasons. Wow. Give him a sitting ovation.

And with Kelly throwing the QB job up for grabs again, instead of just handing it to Tommy Rees once his one-game suspension is up, this season looks like 7-5 to me, with Ls to Michigan State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and you don’t even want to know what USC will do to the Irish in the Coliseum. Cue the Bowl.

Somebody needs to make Notre Dame play by the same rules as everybody else. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Penn State mess, it’s that nobody gets to live on a pedestal anymore.

You flunked, Notre Dame. Go back a grade.

I wonder if there’s a follow up to this column.

*subhead*Notre Dame.*subhead*