Saturday I felt like I was in the middle of a dream. Syracuse 24 – ND 23. The Irish lose on Senior Day — the one game on the schedule in which we beat the ever living hell out of the opposition and have every non-starting senior get their moment in the sun at Notre Dame Stadium. Instead, we had this:
Inexcusable. In a game that should have been nothing more than a glorified scrimmage and a celebration of seniors, we instead have senior David Bruton in tears over one of the worst losses in ND history.
As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, Yahoo! Sports decides to write a nice hack article and spin it so that it appears as if the student section was so pissed off by the loss, they threw snowballs at their own team. I won’t spend anymore time on that BS than this: If you qualify drunk college students throwing snowballs around in the first quarter as “pelting” their own team, you have lost your mind. Granted it shouldn’t have been happening in any fashion, but there is no reason to spin the article in such a ridiculous fashion.
I am angry, furious, and completely pissed off. I’ve detailed before our issues and problems and the positives this season has shown us. I have also detailed my opinion on the current differences between Ty and Weis. However, despite any credit I have tried to give Weis and believing that this is just a young team, we found ourselves on the losing end of a Syracuse game in which we blew a 4th quarter lead and used all of our timeouts well before Syracuse’s eventual game-winning drive.
Weis is now firmly planted on the hot seat. Past failures that were shaken off as building the program up are now huge glaring errors. His signature game is a loss to USC. His biggest win was against an overrated Michigan at the Big House in 2005. And in that time, he is 0-3 (and likely soon to be 0-4) against USC, had Michigan State plant their flag in our field, lost to Navy, lost to Air Force, and had the worst season in ND history at 3-9.
And, as Notre Dame heads out to USC for a game that will truly test its character next week, I leave you with these numbers:
Bob Davie, five seasons, 35-25 record.
Tyrone Willingham, three seasons, 21-15.
Charlie Weis, just under four seasons, 28-20.
What do each of the last three Notre Dame coaches have in common? As of today, the same exact winning percentage at Notre Dame: .583.
Simply unbelievable. We are now looking at the very real possibility of Weis being fired in the near future. And with USC currently being favored at 28.5 points at the writing of this article, we are starring a 6-6 regular season dead in the face. If all hell really breaks loose, we could also be looking at a Sun Bowl loss and ending the season with a 6-7 losing record and the bowl loss streak extended yet another year (hell we might not even make a bowl). Who would’ve thought things would be going this way after we started 4-1?
Ever since the Pitt loss, ND has looked to be in shambles. The fact though is that the problems that were being overshadowed are just now coming to light and everyone we played has figured it out. Our O-Line is still God awful. We can’t get a rushing game going to save our lives. So now we pin all of our hopes on a sophomore QB to carry our offense — oh and with that same horrid O-Line blocking for him and trying to give him “time” to pass. There is no doubt in my mind Clausen still doesn’t completely have it figured out. He throws a pretty long ball, but if we need to throw that 10-15 yard route, he tries to throw it through the receiver’s chest every time which more often results in inaccurate passes that our WR never have a prayer of making a play on. You flat out can’t win like that.
Our offense was so bad against Syracuse that we managed to turn a blocked punt and what should have been an easy score into an eventual 3rd and 40 and then punt the ball right back. Syracuse wasn’t in a position to ever win that game, but we sure as hell found every damned way to ensure that they stayed in it instead of being able to stomp on their throats and come out with an easy win.
This team isn’t motivated to play. We can’t seem to get it through the team’s skulls that every other team we face is just ready to pounce on Notre Dame and beat us rival or not. Why? Because we are Notre Dame and if you don’t love us, you hate us and you want that win — you want to be the team to further shove ND into the ground.
What happened to that nasty football team mentality? What happened to proving the rest of the nation that WE ARE ND damnit? Where is the chip on our shoulder? What happened to proving everyone wrong and making Lee Corso and Mark May eat their words Sunday morning? And as Rakes of Mallow pointed out, what the hell happened to this:
“You are what you are, folks, and right now you’re a 6-5 football team. And guess what, that’s just not good enough. That’s not good enough for you, and it’s certainly not going to be good enough for me. So, if you think they hired me here to go .500, you’ve got the wrong guy.” – Charlie Weis
I hope to hell that one of the reporters brings this quote up at his next press conference.
Just because we went 3-9 last year does NOT mean a current 6-5 record is anywhere near good enough. Why isn’t Charlie coming out and saying this and making his team believe this?
Has Weis underperformed? Yes. Are the past two years fireable offenses for a ND coach? Yes. Will he be fired? No. Should he be fired? No.
Yes, you read that right. Despite the fact that I think Weis has completely failed the team the past two years, I can’t see a good reason to fire him. This isn’t another cry of “give him another year” and “things will get better just wait.” We are more in a situation of “who in God’s name would we hire in his place?” and “will we lose some of our top recruits in doing so?”
The fact of the matter is that there is no “Urban Meyer” on the scene to prompt a quick firing. There are openings at far too many programs right now and there are also come high profile jobs in the mix too. Tennessee is now looking for someone to rebuild their program much like ND for instance. Staying in the SEC, Auburn’s head coach, Tommy Tubberville, has met with his AD and been told that he will be evaluated after the Alabama game. I don’t know about you, but I read that as: “Beat Bama or Get Fired”. I have a feeling that any top flight coach would rather take stabs at schools like that than to be yet another coach to fail at ND.
Firing Weis and then hiring yet another sub-par coach isn’t the answer. We will cycle back to the Daviham era all over again if we scramble for a last minute coaching replacement. Right now, ND needs to start looking for possible replacements. Test out the waters, and find out who is interested, and most importantly, find a proven head coach. The time for experiments is over, ND isn’t the place for on the job training. If you haven’t proven yourself as a head coach, apply elsewhere.
Weis isn’t dumb, he knows he is one solid head coaching candidate away from being canned. He also has the persona in which he would love for all of us to eat our words and proving us wrong. Unfortunately, I just can’t see that in the cards right now. Weis has been a great recruiter, but he hasn’t been coaching them and even more importantly motivating them like he should be.
I still want to believe, but reality is starting to set in. I am more and more convinced (much like many other fans) that the 2005 and 2006 seasons were a result of great players being great and having the Ty Willingham handcuffs removed. They motivated themselves, they wanted to prove everyone wrong, and they wanted to look at the rest of the nation and say “we told you so.”
Saturday we face USC. Motivating a ND team to play USC should not be hard, especially on the heels of a horrid loss. ND should be foaming at the mouth to take out all the anger, frustration and pain of the Syracuse loss on SC. If we come out flat yet again, there isn’t even a glimmer of hope for Weis. Weis has a chance to redeem himself and this team has a chance to make a statement to end the year.
As far as Weis goes, this is all the motivation he should need:
“9-3 isn’t good enough. 10-3 isn’t that much better. 3-9 is inexcusable. 6-5 wasn’t good enough for you or ND when you got here. We are 6-5 now and it still isn’t good enough. 6 straight losses to USC isn’t good enough and it is time to turn all of this around RIGHT NOW. Your time is running out.”
Go Irish. Beat Trojans. God help us.