Jack Swarbrick knows what a serious differential of talent looks like on the big stage. After all, the Notre Dame athletic director was front and center on the sidelines for Notre Dame’s destruction at the hands of Alabama in the lopsided 2013 BCS National Championship Game.
Despite a 30-3 margin in the team’s College Football Playoff Semifinal loss to eventual champion Clemson in January however, Swarbrick thinks things are much different in South Bend this time around under head coach Brian Kelly.
“I came off the field against Alabama thinking, ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do here.’ I didn’t feel that way at all in this game,” Swarbrick told The Athletic. “Clemson is an exceptional team. They are very good. And they played that way. But I didn’t see a significant talent differential. I didn’t see a program differential in terms of strength and conditioning, or preparedness. I thought we had units on the field that were the better of the two in some positions, some areas.
“They were really good and they were really hot, which they proved the next week.”
While there’s no question that Notre Dame has upgraded the talent level on the team in recent years and become very competitive nationally, there is still a bit of a gap between the program and some of the elites in the sport (namely the Tigers and Crimson Tide).
Of course, that’s not an awful place to be as much as Irish alums hate to hear it considering, well, everybody in college football has a gap between them and those two nowadays.