Sunday, November 04, 2007

History Lesson

I just posted this over on NDNation (my first post there in months - I hate their new elitist board system, where you have to become one of the "cool" kids to post on Rock's House). It was in response to someone's question about how past ND coaches who won champonships had fared in their worst seasons. I didn't do an exhaustive research job, but I think I pretty much covered all the bases:


These are the worst records that National Championship coaches have posted at Notre Dame during their tenures, as well as the worst records they posted in their careers:

Rockne: 5-4 (.556)
Leahy: 4-4-1 (.500)
Parseghian: 8-3 (.727) at Notre Dame, 0-9 at Northwestern (1957)
Devine: 7-4 (.636) at Notre Dame, 5-6 at Missouri
Holtz: 5-6 (.454) at Notre Dame, 4-7 at Minnesota (before ND), 0-11 at South Carolina (post-ND)

With Weis staring down the barrel of (at best) a 4-8 (.333) season, there is no historical precedence at Notre Dame of this level of failure prior to winning a National Championship. Only Parseghian has a worse record in his coaching career before ND, during his time at Northwestern.

It took Parseghian almost a decade to go from 0-9 at Northwestern to a NC at Notre Dame.

However, I still hear a lot of folks whispering about 2008 and 2009 like they are some sort of magical talismam that will "return us to glory."

I like Coach Weis, and am willing to give him more time, but I'm not sure if this ship can be turned around that quickly.

For perspective, other turnarounds (by the same coach) from loser to champion include:
Bobby Ross: First year 2-8, then 3-9, then two years later 11-0-1 (1990 Georgia Tech)
Paul Dietzel: 3-7 to 11-0 in two years (1957 LSU)
John McKay: 4-6 to 11-0 in first three years (USC)
Howard Schnellenberger: 5-6 to 11-1 in 4 years (Miami)
Woody Hayes: 4-5 to 10-0 in 2 years, 4-3-2 to 10-0 in 3 years (Ohio State)
Don James: 5-6 to 12-0 in 15 years (Washington)
Bobby Bowden: 4-7 to 12-1 in 19 years (Florida State)

Only Bobby Ross seems to have pulled off a turnaround of this magnitude, and he had his losing seasons in his first two years at the school. Going from winner, to loser, and back to winner has only been done by Woody Hayes.

Sure, there's a first time for everything, but if history teaches us anything, the type of turnaround we are hoping for would be unprecedented in college football (modern era - I was too lazy to go through every single championship...)


So, with that information in hand, do you all think, as I still do (although my confidence is fading fast), that Coach Weis is the right coach for the Notre Dame football program?


Anonymous said...

Nope, and it's not THAT we've lost the's HOW we've lost the games. I've never seen a team with so much talent look so inept.

Craig said...

What about McCartney, who has been cited as going from a one-win season to a national championship (albeit a very sketchy one) with Colorado?

Wacko said...

I didn't check Colorado, I was a bit lazy on that.

Looking at McCartney's career, that seems to be more on the level of what our expectations of Coach Weis should be. Here are McCartney's W/L records at Colorado:


That kind of run would be very good for Notre Dame football, as that would place in a position to compete for 3 Championships, and consistent success over a long period of time.

I would not, however, hold my breath for a Pete Carroll-esque run over the next few years.

Here's hoping Coach Weis proves me wrong.