Will "Notre Dame" Keep Picking Up Losses After Red-Eye Flights Back From Long-Distance Night Games?

While not always easy to verify, for years now, "Notre Dame" Football seems to have had a very bad habit of violating sound training regimens by forcing their football team to take late-night red-eye flights back from long-distance, night-time road games, sometimes followed by embarrassing play, or an embarrassing loss, the following week.

The use of red-eye flights comes despite scientific evidence of the after-effects of sleep deprivation lingering for days, even after a subject supposedly has "caught up" on their sleep.

Last year, under a rookie head coach, following long-distance road night games, "Notre Dame" was 0-2 against unranked opponents the following week. Unless things have changed, one presumes there were red-eye flights involved.

Even if "Notre Dame" seems to be on an endless Road to Plausibility, instead of a Road to a Championship, the shameless commercialism of "Notre Dame" Football still means that they are, perhaps, more likely to end up with night games, given the desire for networks to showcase their name value in prime time.

With the notable of exception of a Navy game in San Diego, after which "Notre Dame" decided to stay over, one presumes that red-eye flights are still the custom.

That comes despite the fact that multiple studies, including by the U.S. military, have confirmed that the after-effects of sleep deprivation linger for days longer than anyone realizes. Even after someone supposedly has "caught up" on sleep, certain bioindicators remain undermined for days. And in college football, every day counts, especially in closely-timed week that might taper off practice intensity later in the week, as it is.

When the miserly approach is followed, by definition the athletes and coaches do not arrive home until the wee hours of the following morning, sometimes followed by embarrassing losses the following week.

In another memorable example, two years ago, "Notre Dame" nearly lost to a team from the MAC six days after a late-night game in Tallahassee, and needed an old warhorse of a head coach, Brian Kelly, to pull out a win against the MAC team. "Notre Dame" had to come from behind multiple times against Toledo, including in the fourth quarter.

One entire coaching era turned on a red-eye flight. In Charlie Weis's fifth season, "Notre Dame" was 6-2 and ranked in the top-15 after putting on a clinic against Washington State in San Antonio. After taking a red-eye flight back, "Notre Dame" lost the following week to Navy, the beginning of a 4-game skid culminating in a 6-6 finish and the head coach being fired.

This year, "Notre Dame" had a night-game on the road in North Carolina, followed by an anemic performance at Louisville, where they are locked in a low-scoring tie at the half.

Since the Louisville game also is a night game on the road, the same problem could arise again for the following week, leading up to a night game against Southern Cal. At least that game will be at home, followed by a bye week.

With a red-eye flight approach, after a night road game, "Notre Dame" might not get out of the stadium and on their way to an airport until after midnight. Even with a charter flight, there still is time involved getting to the airport and getting boarded. In addition to however many hours in the air, there is the landing and disembarking at the other end, followed by ground transportion from the South Bend Airport to campus.

One wonders just how late the athletes are arriving to campus in some instances, and whether they would even get dropped off at their dormitories, or whether they then have to hike up to a mile across an auto-restricted campus.

In the past, claims were sometimes made that the athletes would rest on the plane. Yet getting on a plane well after midnight, and leaning back in a reclining airport seat for several hours with dim lights still on, then interrupting the rest several hours later to get on the move again hardly qualifies as an appropriate night's sleep. There also is no way that the practice corresponds to proper athletic training principles.

If "Notre Dame" is, indeed, still ignoring the science and inflicting red-eye flights and sleep deprivation, that would be even worse than the situation years back when it turned out that they were losing weight across the season because they were not eating enough. In that case, they hired a nutrionist to help come up with plans for how to get more nutritional intake.

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