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Notre Dame Says No to Bowl Game

It must be nice to be in a position both financially and in program magnitude where you can say, “Thanks but no thanks” to any Bowl that would wind up with you at 6-6.

That’s right, MAC fans… Notre Dame would rather stay home and not even bother with piddly podunk games like the GMAC or the Little Ceasar’s Pizza Bowl, which feature potential MAC matchups. Instead, they would rather their seniors not have another chance on the football field, their fans not get to see them play one more time this season, their student athletes not enjoy some form of postseason. The culprit for this decision? Apparently the players themselves.

Rumors have abounded over the last several days that the team meeting held on Monday was basically a vote on whether or not the Irish players would want to go Bowling. And really… no one can blame them for wanting this season to be over as quickly as humanly possible. Losing your coach, losing some recruits, and losing 4 straight to close the season including head scratchers to UConn and Navy certainly doesn’t breed what I would classify as “excitment”, “optimism”, or “enthusiasm”.

The most likely thing that could happen for Notre Dame given their choices would be to go to some second-tier Bowl game, whomp the piss out of some overmatched team, and thus spark a slew of predictions for the 2010 version that range from “Undefeated, BCS Champions” to “OMG!!!! BEST TEAM EVER!!!!” as was the case after the Irish trumped an underwhelming Hawaii team last year in the Hawaii Bowl. Imagine if Notre Dame beat someone decent like Central Michigan?! Lou Holtz’ head would explode as he dreamed about next season and the inevitable echo waking, returning to glory hyperbole that Irish fans spew after each and ever win.

Weis Terminated

6-5 was indeed "not good enough"

We’ll hold what Kenny Powers would say, since it isn’t “official” in the “official” sense of the word, but the New York Daily News, the New York Times, and ESPN’s Joe Schad are saying that Charlie is indeed the proud recipient of the most recent pink slip in the Coaching Carousel of 2009.

For anyone following college football recently, this will come as no tremendous surprise. Normally, when your supervisor cancels a work trip you had planned for months amidst scuttlebutt and rumors that you were on thin ice, that is what is pretty much the definition of “warning sign”. According to the folks in the know, those smoke signals did indeed signal a fire, or firing, as the case may be.

The initial reaction across the country will be a loud and proud majority of people who despise ND and Weis, and who now feel vindicated that Charlie was unceremoniously shown the exit. While Weis certainly had issues, I find it challenging to fall in line with the hatred and contempt that he seems to generate. The argument of wins and losses is certainly a valid one, but for me, the talking points about his attitude, demeanor, and niceties are virtually a moot point and belong nowhere near the discussion as to whether or not Charlie is a good coach or deserving of the ND head job.

Was Weis a bit full of himself? Did he carry an attitude? Did he believe that he was indeed God’s gift to Notre Dame football? I can’t say, because I’ve never met him. However, what I can say with absolute certainty is that with enough wins on his resume in South Bend, no one would have cared. Mark Mangino is just the most recent example of the impunity carpet being pulled out from underneath the meanie when the wins don’t pile up. Bobby Knight is certainly the historical gold standard of behavior being irrelevant when wins were accumulating, and unfortunately for Charlie, there simple weren’t enough W’s on the opposite side of the scales of employment.

So now the 2009 season, which I dare say has been a bit boring, is about to go plaid. Notre Dame is one of those situations where a coaching search is a borderline 3-ring circus of “interest”, “non-interest”, denials, flight tracking, people lauding ND as a special place, people denying ND is anything out of the ordinary, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. For the Weis haters, he’ll get his OTP come-uppance Kenny Powers style once the school or Charlie issues some sort of official statement. Until then, we’re left to wonder what could have been, what should have been, and try and wrap our heads around the unbelievably massive amount of dollars it’s going to take to get Charlie and his staff out, and a new coach and his assistants in. And while we’re at it, I certainly hope everyone has had their fill of Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen since it is a virtual certainty they won’t be back either. It is not a good day to be a Notre Dame fan, or in this case… their coach.

UPDATE: Notre Dame makes it official and announes it themselves that the AD and the President/Priest at ND have not retained Sir Charles. Kenny?

Charlie? You're fucking out!

A Few Thoughts on Weis, Notre Dame

Should I stay, or should I go?

As I am sitting here watching the first half of the Notre Dame-Stanford game wind down, I thought I’d offer up an opinion piece.  An Edgitorial if you like.  A lot is being said of the Notre Dame situation in the second half of this season, and I thought maybe it’s time I let my tongue (fingers) wag a little.

Before we began our season at OTP, we took time to analyze the upcoming season, and against all advice from fans and non-fans alike, I predicted at most a three-loss Notre Dame team this year.  In no certain terms, I was labeled crazy and a “hater”.  I’m sure if I had the FBS crystal ball in my hand at the beginning of the year and found out the Irish would lose five (possibly six after tonight), even I would have thought that was crazy.

As I’ve stated, I’m a fan of Notre Dame.  The Irish have an incredible history and a program rich in tradition.  I admire that, much more than a flash-in-the-pan team that might have a good four or five years. But even empires have to fall at some point (2000-2008 Yankees?).  I really think Notre Dame is in that era right now, and it’s a painful thing to watch.  But one thing is for certain: win or lose tonight, Weis has to go.

Therein lies another argument.  Notre Dame would have to buy out a pretty fat contract with Weis, some reporting upwards of $18 million.  Does the whole city of South Bend even operate on that kind of a budget?  That’s where it gets tricky: pay Weis and essentially suffer in mediocrity for a few years, or get out now?  My solution: get out.

I know financially this probably wouldn’t make sense to most programs, but at this point, Notre Dame needs the defibrillator.  With a program like Notre Dame, there is no excuse to sit back and wait and see what will happen next season.  Thankfully, the Irish alum have deep pockets, and I really don’t foresee money being that big of an issue.  Maybe at Ball State, but not at Notre Dame.

One of the most recent reasons I think Weis should go is directly related to the Clausen “cold-cocking” incident at a bar early Sunday morning last weekend.  First of all, let’s assume he was sucker punched and in absolutely no way instigated the altercation.  It’s a long shot, but just try to believe that.  I know Jimmy is of-age, but at what point does a head coach have to say, “Look, we’re in season.  No unnecessary risks, no poor decisions, and from now until the season ends, I’m your parent.”  Seriously, has Charlie never seen The Program and the downfall of Joe Kane?

I understand the players have rights and all that, but there is no excuse a public figure, a leader of your team, is out at a bar at two in the morning after a game.  Yeah, it sucks if you’re a player, and maybe it’s a little extreme to institute a four or five month curfew, but it really should be the nature of the beast.  Weis should have some semblance of control of this team, and incidents like Clausen got himself into Sunday morning just prove that he might not have much control over that team.

Another reason he has to go is both his record (worse than Davie and Willingham) and questionable play-calling.  I can’t get into all the instances of this year and keep this under 700 words, but there’s no way you “Weis can do no wrong” fans can argue with this.  Just as easily as Notre Dame could be 9-2 at this point, they could also be well below .500.

 Hopefully I’ve opened the can of worms just enough to let some of you comment on what you think would be best for Notre Dame in 2010.  You know my opinion, so what’s yours?  Does Charlie stay or does Charlie go?

Weekend Carnage Report

Football is back, ladies and gents, and with it brings the return of the Weekend Carnage Report, your Monday Must Read for football goings on. While the weekend was short on major earth shaking upsets, there was excitement to be found throughout the land. Blocked field goals, overtimes, sucker punches… and this was all week 1. It’s going to be a good year.

Ball State logoBall State Report: For the Cardinals, it was hardly worth rehashing. It was game 1, it was a learning experience, and we have an FCS team coming in on Saturday. Play like they did on Thursday and they’ll get beat again. Play like they’re capable of, and it’s an easy W. There are some that will tell you that the gap between non-BCS teams and excellent FCS teams isn’t all that large. I am not one of those people. The gap is there and this is a game BSU needs to win, and win big.

Kentucky LogoKentucky Report: What really can you say that hasn’t already been covered by A Sea of Blue? The Cats looked dominant, energetic, poised, and skilled. The things we thought would be troublesome, like pressure and skill from the defensive ends, or the offense picking up blitzing schemes was present, but that’s something teachable and nowhere near the problems that the Legion of Doom expected to be dealing with after game 1. The positives, like Randall Cobb, Mike Hartline, the offensive line’s dominance, and Trevard Lindley all looked extremely good. Yes, it was a MAC school… I get it. But a win like this builds confidence and swagger no matter who you beat… and that’s what this team needed. The most improvement usually occurs between games 1 and 2, and throw in a bye week and I’m feeling good about Big Blue.

On to the weekend…

The Good

  • Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish were lampooned early this season as a team exceptionally overrated and ranked to highly. Most pointed to their season opener against Nevada and their high octane offense as a potential upset for the Irish. After Saturday’s 35-0 shellacking, ND looks like a team to keep your eye on. Charlie Weis silenced some critics, the Irish certainly impressed some pollsters, and Jimmy Clausen finally looked like the Clausen he was expected to be out of high school.
  • Florida/Texas/USC: Three of the teams universally expected to compete for a national championship berth all came out and handled their business against lesser opponents. Impressive, dominating, and totally expected but good all the same.
  • Boise State/BYU: Two non-BCS conference programs that have catapulted themselves into the BCS conversation. Boise’s victory over Oregon was overshadowed by a sucker punch, and BYU’s upset of Oklahoma overshadowed by Sam Bradford’s shoulder injury, but both those wins will be worth their weight in gold come this week’s poll and for the hopes of both of those programs to crash the BCS party come January.
  • Kentucky/Tennessee: Two teams needing large wins to sort of ease the fears of fanbases in worry mode. Both did exactly what was needed as Kentucky took Miami behind the woodshed and Tennessee laid the smack down on Western Kentucky. Welcome to FBS, Toppers… now grab your ankles.

The Bad

  • Virginia: It’s hard to say what’s worse… the fact that UVA lost to FCS William & Mary or the fact that no one seems to really be talking about it. Is that because of the other stories happening? Or because UVA is just expected to be awful. Probably a little of both.
  • The MidAmerican Conference: Some were lauding the MAC as a conference on the rise and in a position to get back some of the prestige lost when Marshall and Miami stopped dominating. The first weekend was hardly anything to warrant celebration as the MAC went 3-10 and the universally thought stronger MAC West went 0-6. The most damaging losses? Ball State’s to North Texas and Temple to Villanova. WMU looked dreadful against Michigan.
  • Maryland: Many were expecting the Terps to be contenders in an ACC devoid of overwhelming talent and skill. After the thorough decimation at the hands of Cal, Terp fans have got to be concerned. The Golden Bears ran absolutely roughshod over the Terp defense, didn’t allow the offense to flourish, and simply dominated.

The Ugly

  • Iowa: In what was nearly the largest upset of the weekend, Northern Iowa played Iowa closer than nearly every expert expected. So much so that the Hawkeyes needed two blocked field goals in the final seconds to seal a win. Iowa has had a ton of injuries but this is a game they have to win… largely… impressively… going away.
  • Ohio State: The Buckeyes were one pass away from a tie game with under three minutes to go Saturday. I’m certainly a fan of not running the score up in any fashion against a service academy, but playing like this next week against the Trojans is going to be an ass whipping waiting to happen.
  • Indiana: Not surprisingly, IU ends up on this list again. But at least this time it isn’t in the bad! Congrats! After a lackluster performance against Eastern Kentucky, it’s looking like it’s going to be a long year for the Hoosiers and their fans.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan

  • WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame: 4 rec, 189 yards, 3 TDs in an impressive win against Nevada, announcing to the fans that ND may in fact, be ready to lay claim to a BCS berth with hopefully different results.
  • RB Ralph Bolden, Purdue: Sure, it was against Toledo. But when you throw up 234 yards and 2 TDs, that gets you some OTP love. Now… do that against Penn State and the Buckeyes, and you’re getting invited to New York for a bronze stiff-arming trophy.
  • QB Max Hall, BYU: 26-38 329 yards and 2 TDs in a shocking upset of Oklahoma. Hall commandeered an offensive unit that was far from dominant, but he got the job done. And that’s all anyone can ever ask for.

From Edge

  • Arizona State LB Mike Nixon hauled in an impressive three interceptions and even took one to the house.  Granted it was against Idaho State, it was still a great effort, and he’s clearly someone to watch this year.
  • Tony Pike threw for a personal best 362 yards and three touchdowns in Cincinnati’s rout of Rutgers on Monday.  One hell of a performance from one surprisingly good team, at least from week one’s showing.
  • Purdue’s RB Ralph Bolden accumulated 234 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 carries against Toledo.  And I thought Ball State’s rushing defense was poor on Thursday… jeebus.