1. Take a second and go look back at your post from the first game, with all of its promise and optimism (or not). What is the single biggest difference between the team you thought we had at the beginning of the season, and the team that we've seen on the field that now sits at 6-5?
(1) Overall prediction for wins/losses.
(2) Projected bowl game and result.
Sugar Bowl win over Alabama
(3) Predicted final ranking.
(4) Best player on the team.
(5) Heisman trophy winner.
(6) National Champion.
(7) Prediction for Nevada game, including score.
Notre Dame wins easily, 45-17
So, clearly I was drinking the kool-aid at the beginning of the season. And to be fair, this team is clearly capable of achieving the results outlined above. I actually underestimated the spread in the Nevada game, and was right about Golden Tate being the best player on the team.
Ultimately, the reason we aren't sitting at 10-2 and in the BCS is because this defense severely underperformed to expectations. The supposed strength (secondary) became the weakness, and our offense, while very good, struggled to score points in the red zone after Floyd got hurt.
I wonder how the season would have played out with a healthy Michael Floyd, but his presence certainly didn't prevent us from losing to Navy at home.
2. Clearly, even from Coach Weis' own comments, it appears that the conversation has shifted from "Will Coach Weis be fired?" to "Who will be his replacement?" With that in mind, I'd like you to answer the following three questions:
a. If we lived in a perfect world, and could lure any coach to Notre Dame, who would be your choice? (Please limit yourself to coaches actually alive and able to coach right now - yes, we'd all love to have Knute Rockne back on the sidelines.)
There is no absolute perfect fit out there, anywhere. Every coach has their own drawbacks, but I think ultimately the home run ball would have to be Urban Meyer. While I have some serious questions about his character personally, there has never really been much mainstream media attention on his shortcomings, and in every other way, he appears to have been custom built for Notre Dame.
b. If you were the AD for the University, who do you think is the best hire you could actually pull off, and how would you do it?
Bob Stoops. With his worst season yet at Oklahoma, I feel like Stoops could use a change of scenery. He's arguably one of the top 5 coaches in the game, and as good as he's been at Oklahoma, nobady ever seems to mention him as an all-time great coach.
If he does what he's done at Oklahoma at Notre Dame, there is no doubt he'd go down as one of the greatest coaches ever to coach the game.
The timing works as well, as the rebuilding year means that we can interview and lock him up early, without having to worry about waiting until after the bowl games to interview or announce.
I'd fly to Norman as soon as the regular season is over for both teams, and basically make him an offer he can't refuse. Five year term, $5,000,000 per year total compensation guaranteed by the University, plus incentives, and a guaranteed extension of the contract to 10 years at 10% above the next highest contract if he meets certain performance goals.
Whatever he needs in regards to facilities, we'll provide, although we should be set there for a while. Full control over all football related decisions, with minimal interference from the AD's office or anywhere else. Whatever resources he wants to hire his assistants.
Did the economy hurt the endowment? Yes. Are we going to have to pay Weis an insane amount of money over the next five years? Yes.
But the future health and welfare of the program is at stake, and another failed hire could lead to many more millions in lost revenue going forward. The increase in merchandising from a national championship alone would more than pay for the entirety of the contract. Make it happen.
c. Prediction time - taking everything you know about the program, the AD, and the current coaching situations around the country - who will be the head coach for the University of Notre Dame next year?
I've been asked this several times, and with all of the speculation and rumor going around, I'm going to stick with my original assertion that the smart money is on Brian Kelly. He's an Irishman who has won every step along the way, is not at a destination program, and would be the safe, logical choice in today's coaching market.
I really just don't believe, deep down inside, that the current administration, even under what I believe will be the very capable leadership of Jack Swarbrick, will be able to hit one out of the park.
But, as the fall back option, I think Kelly is a great choice. Solid resume, success at multiple levels, a winner everywhere he's been.
3. As the title of this IBG post says, there is still one more game to be played. And, in fact, it's a red-hot Stanford team that scores points in bunches and beat SC in the Coliseum 55-21. To say that our program is in turmoil at this point would be a drastic understatement. So, what do you think is going to happen this weekend? Do the players rally and play up to potential for their embattled coach, or come out and go through the motions trying to get this season behind them?
I think that we'll see the same team we've seen all year. Occasionally frustrating, momentarily amazing, and overall playing to the level of the opponent. I expect another hard-fought, close game. I expect to see the players playing with passion and heart. I also expect to see a little more chippiness and extra-curriculars, as the Irish frustration over the season begins to boil over.
Ultimately, my hope is that Weis will successfully rally the team with an us against them mentality, and the players will embrace the concept and play one of their best games of the year.
4. Finally, with all of the disappointment and frustration and a lame duck coach, what are your plans this weekend for the game?
I'll sit at home and watch. I'm strangely at peace this week, and I feel free to cheer wholeheartedly for the team without feeling conflicted over the future of the program. Win, and we get some great momentum and a happy note to end the Weis era, which I would particularly like. Weis deserves great credit for the many good things he has done in and around the program to rebuild its foundations, and I would love to give him a positive sendoff. Lose, and the decision becomes that much clearer.
There is no outcome today that would frustrate or otherwise upset me. It's like watching a pee-wee football game - I just want to see the kids out on that field that I'm so proud of do their best.
Notre Dame 63
Final, 12 OT