Thursday, November 13, 2008

Notre Dame football = Law School building project

Maybe it's because I just graduated law school a year and a half ago, or maybe I'm reaching here, but the Irish football program seems to me to be in the same state of flux as the Notre Dame Law School.

For those of you that haven't been to campus in a while (or never), the Notre Dame Law School has been undergoing a major renovation that will more than double it's size. And the progression of the law school's transformation has closely mirrored the transformation that the football program has been enduring.

When Weis took his position as head coach at Notre Dame, I was a 2L at the law school - he came in to speak with the students, and I was one of the lucky ones that got to ask him a question. Around that same time that Charlie was hired, it was announced that the Law School had gotten a major gift from Frank Eck, and that the construction of the law school addition had been greenlighted.

At that time, the law school had recently suffered a major drop in the rankings due to several factors, one of which included a lot of transition in the administration of the school.

The next two years, things looked good, but not great - ground hadn't been broken, but the plans were in place, and things looked good.

Then we broke ground on the law school, and the entire area looke like crap. At that same time, we fielded the 2007 Irish. In fact, last year's slide to start the season coincided with the digging of the foundation of the law school. Halfway through the fall semester, all we had to show for both programs was a giant gaping hole, and a big mess all around.

Then, we started building.

As the scaffolding went up around the law school addition, so too did the Irish show some signs of building at the end of the season. All offseason we worked on both projects, and at the beginning of this year, the law school looked like an almost finished product. A bricked exterior, lighting, the works.

Likewise, the Irish this year looked like a very good football team from the outside. Returning starters all over the field, a great incoming freshman class, and lots of promise for the future.

Halfway through this season, though, the law school addition is still bare bones inside. Likewise, the Irish football team still lacks a solid foundation - those junior and senior classes that build programs long-term.

And moving forward, I feel much the same about the Irish football team as I do about the law school expansion.

For too long, Notre Dame was content to live in the past, remembering their glory years. Old facilities, old ways of doing things. With the arrival of Weis/addition, Notre Dame has made a commitment to the future of the program by endeavouring to build a 21st century institution.

This is a long-term project, not just a quick fix of the existing institution.

We're not just cleaning the brick and putting in some extra outlets here, folks. We are building institutions that will compete at the elite levels of their respective fields.

Much like athletics has hired Swarbrick to lead the Irish into a new renaissance of ND athletics, the law school is also hiring a new dean to lead us into this exciting new era.

And I have full confidence that both institutions, once we've suffered through all of the building pains, will be back where they deserve to be - the pinnacle of their fields.

So be patient, fellow Irish fans, the reaissance is coming. You can all see how awesome this thing is going to look when it's done, but until then, ride out the storm.

Next year, we'll have something truly amazing starting.

Irish Blogger Gathering: Domer Law goes Brawling

Brawling Hibernian brings us this week's edition of Irish Blogger Gathering.

1. In the parlance of DJs, a "deep cut" is a song that wasn't released as a single and, generally, is not well-known. What Notre Dame victory is your favorite "deep cut" from the Irish catalog? In other words, what is your favorite victory that is not widely celebrated (i.e., not the "Snow Bowl" or the 1988 Miami game, etc.). Explain in much detail.

Notre Dame vs. UCLA. October 21, 2006.

This game was the most fun I've ever had inside Notre Dame Stadium. I was in my third year of law school, and was still supremely optimistic about the Irish, despite their setback against Michigan at home. Brady was a Heisman candidate, and the Shark was catching passes all over the place. We had a really good team, the kind of team that you honestly thought we could contend for a championship (started the season ranked #2).

The Bruins rolled in with 2 losses already, including one to Ty's inept Huskies. We thought that we'd roll. We scored an early touchdown, and led 7-0 after 1.

But then the Bruins made it interesting.

Two huge pass plays in the second quarter gave the Bruins the lead, but the Irish only trailed by 4 at intermission, and cut it to 1 by the end of 3.

When UCLA pushed the lead back to 4 with a fourth quarter field goal, the fans were stunned that we hadn't gotten more production. We had a 3-and-out after the kickoff, but started to put together a drive with 3:49 left. It looked to everyone like Brady was going to pull his team out of the fire once again. Then, with 2:20 left to go, the Irish failed on their QB sneak on 4th and 1.

The entire stadium fell silent, as the fans couldn't believe that the Irish had lost.

Then, the Bruins couldn't run out the clock, and the Irish get the ball on their own 20, with just over a minute left.

Watching Brady walk out onto that field, you could tell that we were going to win this game. First play from scrimmage was a rollout by Brady, which he pitched down the field to Samardzija for a first down, out of bounds to stop the clock.

Cool as a cucumber.

Brady drops back, has all day to throw, finds David Grimes with a diving catch and a first down. In bounds, time to hurry up the offense a bit.

Brady drops back, gets pressure, steps up in the pocket. Pump fakes, then rolls a few more feet to find his window. Completes the pass perfectly in stride to Jeff Samardzija for a first down at the 30, and the Shark looks like he's going down at the 15. But wait, he's still on his feet! Two men to beat! He's going in! Touchdown, Irish!


In all the three years I was in law school, I had never seen the student section lose it's damn mind. It was like a gigantic mosh pit, with people jumping up and down, falling all over themselves in exuberant celebration. The dream was still alive.

Irish win, 20-17.

2. As much fun as it is rooting for our heroes, it can be just as enjoyable to trash those we consider to be villains. A few years ago, the great Irish blog, Blue Gray Sky, wrote a post discussing the biggest villains in Notre Dame history. That post focused on external villains. Today's question is, of those associated with the program, who is the biggest villain? This individual must have been a player, coach or administrator at ND who, through reckless acts of cowardice, stupidity or malice, damaged the football program. (Note: Ty Willingham is off the board)

Edward "Monk" Malloy.

I think Malloy was a very good university president. If he had been President of Stanford or Duke.

But as President of Notre Dame, Monk just didn't get it. We have a tradition here that is nothing like any other university. It is something to be cherished and protected, not exploited.

He inherited a university that had a football program that was the envy of the nation.

At the end of his tenure, the football program was nearly dead due to mismanagement.

All of the woes of the program can be laid at Malloy's feet. He devalued the football program at the University, making academics and olympic sports the centerpiece of his administration. In his brief tenure, he almost copied what happened at the University of Chicago, who de-emphasized athletics in 1939, and within the decade were out of major college football altogether.

He hired Kevin White, and signed off on the hirings of Davie, O'Leary, and Willingham. And he opposed the Weis hiring, and came out publicly against the Willingham firing.

I think, more so than the hiring of Weis, the naming of Father Jenkins as President of the University is what got this ship righted, and heading in the right direction.

3. Falling in love is a wonderful thing. As Lt. Frank Drebin once observed, "you begin to notice things you never knew were there before; birds sing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, stop signs." Describe the moment that you knew that there would be no other; you were in love with Notre Dame.

My love affair with the University of Notre Dame is not something I just sort of "picked up" along the way. It's not something that I inherited when I attended the University. The University of Notre Dame is in my blood - I can trace back 4 generations of family that has worked for the University.

But if I had to pick a moment...

On November 14, 1992, Notre Dame and Penn State met on the frozen tundra of Notre Dame Stadium. I watched the game at home, while my dad was at the game. I remember sitting there, in cold and snowy South Bend, watching the end of the game and the mass of people on the field afterward.

My dad came home and told me and my brother about how he ran onto the field after the game, and stood in the spot where Reggie Brooks caught that magical 2-point conversion.

Three days later my father was dead at age 42.

The moment that I knew that I was in love with Notre Dame cam later that week, when I was lighting a candle at the grotto just before going into the Basilica for my father's Requiem Mass. I looked out at the lake, then up at the statue of Mary glittering on the top of that Golden Dome, and reflected on my father's life. I pictured his face as he told me about that magical moment in Notre Dame Stadium, and understood how important this University was to my father. From then on, there has been no other.

4. Regrets, we've had a few but, then again, too few to ever let go of any of them. What game, or specific play, in Irish history turns your dreams into nightmares and haunts your every waking moment? Describe this moment and why you wish ND could have another crack at it?

Boston College, 1993.

I was in the stands that day, as my grandmother (a retiree from the University) had tickets she couldn't use, so she gave them to me. I was a freshman, and just started at St. Joe High School after three years in public school, so I didn't know very many people. I had asked my friend Brad to go, but he had other commitments. So I asked another guy in my class, Jeff, to go to the game. He accepted, and we walked from my house to the stadium.

We settled in, got our hot dogs and drinks, and enjoyed the game, although Jeff wasn't a big fan like I was. He didn't understand the game as well as I'd hoped, but I was having a blast watching the #1 Irish.

Partway through the 3rd quarter, Jeff started complaining that he needs to get home by a certain time. I told him that we weren't leaving until the end of the game, but he starts moaning and complaining that he needs to get home to his mom.

We stay until the Irish take the lead in the 4th quarter, but then Jeff walks out. I wasn't about to let him walk home by himself, as I had promised his mom that we would walk together. As I caught up with him on the way out, I told him that if we lose the game, I'm never speaking to him again.

We are walking away from the stadium towards SR 23, when I hear a huge groan come from the stadium. I yell at Jeff, and tell him that we are stopping on the way home to check the score. Since we were freshman in high school, the nearest place was Frank's Red Hots. We stopped in, and BC had retaken the lead.

We stayed until the Irish took the lead again, but Jeff walked out during commercials after the score. Again, I went chasing after.

I told him again, if we lose this game, I'm never speaking to him again.

As we were walking home, I heard another, louder, groan from the stadium, and then silence. I glared at Jeff and walked the rest of the way home in silence.

Got home, checked the score, discovered that the Irish lost. Jeff's mom came and picked him up (15 minutes later - we could have stayed the whole game...).

I never spoke to him again.

To this day, I believe that had I stayed in the stadium, the outcome would have been different.

5. With 79 consensus All-Americans and 48 inductees in the College Football Hall of Fame, it is clear that there have been many great players in the history of Notre Dame football. What was the greatest single season from a player that you ever witnessed during your Irish fandom? Be specific. Use adjectives.

Trevor Laws, 2007.

What this kid did last year is absolutely amazing. Playing on a 3-9 team, Trevor Laws absolutely destroyed opponents inside.

The numbers he put up are astonishing - far better than any other defensive lineman in recent history. This kid, despite the piss poor record, never let up for a single play. He has a motor that won't quit, and was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal year.

This kid should have won every award available to him. Including the Heisman.

It kills me that his performance last season will be lost to the annals of history as a footnote. But he never quit, and showed us all what a Notre Dame man is really about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blueprint for the future

After a long week of reading everything I can get my hands on about Notre Dame football, and some time to look back at the Notre Dame program in my lifetime, with my multitude of experiences both as a fan growing up in South Bend, as a student, and as an alum, I have come up with a long-term strategy for the football program, which I think will result in a strong football program for years to come.

Priority #1: Solidify our coaching.

In order to solidify our coaching, here is my plan. While it may be overly technical and far-reaching, the specifics of the plan aren't as important as developing a system that will bring in and develop the best coaches in the country.

First, keep Coach Weis. Although I am disappointed in the on-field success of the program the last two years, Coach Weis has proven that he will not be out-worked, and he will not be out-recruited. Yes, he has been out coached at times, but even USC fans have said as much about Pete Carrol.

However, the head football coach at a major football program (college or pros) is only as good as his supporting cast. It is in this area that we need a more cohesive plan of action.

I would start by clarifying the roles of Corwin Brown and Jon Tenuta. Right now, their respective titles are: "Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs" for Brown, and "Asst. Head Coach (Defense)/Linebackers" for Tenuta. Based on those titles, I would place Tenuta above Brown on the organizational chart, but leave the responsibility for play-calling in the hands of Brown. I like this approach, which would leave the ultimate responsibility for the success of the defense in the hands of Tenuta, who is responsible for creating the gameplans, practice plans, etc. The actual gameday playcalling would be Brown's, subject to Tenuta's supervision.

I would take a similar approach on the offensive side of the ball, with one twist. I would go out there and find a new "Offensive Coordinator" for the offensive side of the ball, who would have the same responsibility as Brown on defense. Weis would be the de facto "Asst. Head Coach (Offense)," and would work as closely as he likes with his coordinator as far as playcalling would go. Weis would need to learn to defer to his Offensive Coordinator for the bulk of the playcalling, but would have the choice, at any time, to take over in critical situations.

The Offensive Coordinator for this team is not Haywood. I like Haywood, but he has been hamstrung his entire career here, and clearly Weis is uncomfortable with Haywood, since he took back the reins of the offense this week. He needs to get a guy he can trust.

At the end of the season, Weis should support Haywood in finding a new position as head coach at some small school, and then go (probably to the pro ranks), and find someone he can trust for this new position.

Finally, I would demote Brian Polian to Assistant Special Teams coach (Weis' position right now), if he will accept that. He is too good of a recruiter to just part ways with, but we need a legitimate special teams coach.

Which, of course, leads to my next suggestion - do a national search for the best special teams coach available, and hire him as Asst. Head Coach (Special Teams). Give him ultimate responsibility for the success of the special teams.

The hiring of the assistants on each side of the ball should be the responsibility of each Assistant Head Coach, subject to the approval of Weis. Weis would of course have sole responsibility on the offensive side of the ball.

Ianello, as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach, is clearly safe in his job, but may be looking to move up soon with his recent success. He may even be a good fit for coordinator, as Weis could teach him on the job about how to call plays and create offensive game plans.

This organizational approach would achieve several things, in my opinion. First, by giving each Assistant Head Coach ultimate responsibility for his area, Weis is freed up from attending all of those meetings on special teams and defense. Weis can give them an overall direction at the beginning of the week, and make changes to the finished game plan at the end of the week, but this frees him up to focus on the offensive game plan and coaching up the offense.

I think that this organization has suffered from a lack of clarity and support from the head coach, as well as a lack of experience. Tenuta has the experience to take full responsibility for the defense, and can perform hands-on training for Brown, his coordinator. Brown, as coordinator, will then be that much more prepared to take over for Tenuta in the future. Weis can train his coordinators to his liking, and maybe someday gain enough confidence to just hand over the reins completely - not because he feels like he needs to focus on other things, but because he genuinely feels that the new coordinator can do his job for him.

Finally, I would rework Weis' contract a bit. Tell him that, rather than parting ways with him after a second straight disappointing season, that you want to restructure the buyouts based upon on the field incentives. Bonuses and extensions for BCS wins and championships, but a lower buyout for failing to achieve certain thresholds.

Priority #2: Work with all of your constituencies to develop a scheduling philosophy that works.

Much has been made of the 7-4-1 scheduling philosophy, and the inability to schedule the marquee opponents for a home-and-home.

With Swarbrick coming into his position as AD, he should sit down with Coach Weis, Father Jenkings, and should quite frankly spend some time reading some of the message boards and blogs that have taken up this issue, to get a sense of what the fans are looking for.

Then, they should come up with a method for modifying the 7-4-1 scheduling philosophy in such a way that they meet both the administrative and fiscal goals, as well as respecting the tradition of the program.

I would look into reducing our commitments to the Big Ten and/or Big East, and come up with a schedule that looks something like this:

USC and Stanford (2 Pac-10), Michigan, Purdue, MSU (3 Big Ten), 2 Big East teams, and one other team (i.e. ACC/Big 12/SEC) - home and home. (4-4 each year)

Home-home-neutral agreements - alternate Tier 1 opponents with the Navy neutral game, ND-Alabama in the Superdome one year, at Alabama w/ Navy neutral the next, then at Alabama the year after that, with a one-off neutral site game (see below) the following year. (1-1-1 over three years)

Navy - home and neutral. (1-0-1 every two years)

Tier 2 opponent - neutral site game once every three years (yes, this would be the Washington State game played in Texas). (0-0-1 every third year)

Fill in the rest with a one-off home games against the likes of Army/Duke, etc. (1-0-0 or 2-0-0 each year)

Schedule would end up closely resembling a 7-4-1 model, with the good games that fans want to see. Try this scheduling sequence, using this year's schedule as the template for year 1:

vs. San Diego State
vs. Michigan
at Michigan State
vs. Purdue
vs. Stanford
at North Carolina
Alabama (neutral site - Superdome?)
vs. Pittsburgh
at Boston College
vs. Navy
vs. Syracuse
at USC

vs. Nevade
at Michigan
vs. Michigan State
at Purdue
vs. USC
vs. Alabama
at Pittsburgh
vs. Boston College
Navy (neutral site)
at Syracuse
vs. Stanford

vs. Army
vs. Michigan
at Michigan State
vs. Purdue
at Stanford
at Alabama
vs. West Virginia
at Georgia Tech
Washington State (neutral site)
vs. Navy
vs. Connecticut
at USC

vs. Duke
at Michigan
vs. Michigan State
at Purdue
vs. USC
vs. Texas (next year - neutral site, Cotton Bowl?)
at West Virginia
vs. Georgia Tech
Navy (neutral site)
at Connecticut
at Stanford
vs. Army

Obviously, we would have to tweak the schedule along the way, but this is the type of schedule I'd like to see on an ongoing basis.

Priority #3: Plan for the future.

There needs to be an ongoing evaluation of available coaches, and a smooth transition program for when Weis leaves the program. Seek out young coaches that are on the verge of being ready to take over a program, and work with Weis (a Notre Dame guy) to leave the program on a pre-planned schedule and bring in a replacement the year before Weis leaves to go through the transition.

For the guaranteed opportunity to be the head coach of Notre Dame, I have to believe that a coach worthy of the position (lets take Gary Pinkel, for example) would be willing to come in and understudy for one season en route to taking over the team. In Pinkel's case, Weis would have to relinquish his duties as offensive leader of the team, and focus on transitioning the players to the new coach's system, while introducing Pinkel to the ins and outs of coaching at Notre Dame.

This approach takes an immense amount of foresight, and would require Weis to be willing to turn over the program, even if he has tremendous success (i.e. a National Championship). No more scrambling to find your coach at the last minute, and no worries about recruiting setbacks, as the kids coming in that year know that they would be playing for the new coach, and no hard feelings and transfers when Weis (or whomever) leaves.

In recent history, even successful Notre Dame coaches (Parsegian, Holtz) have a shelf life of around 10 years. Coincidentally, Weis has a 10 year contract. If Weis meets the expectations of the program, winning at least 1 championship in that 10 year period, we smoothly show him the exit into the legends of the Irish as we transition in the new coach. If it becomes apparent that Weis will not achieve those benchmarks laid out in ihs new contract, he will be given one final season to take his shot at immortality before leaving.

Best case scenario, Weis rides off into the sunset with a championship, worst case scenario, the new coach walks into the job without a wasted recruiting cycle and takes his shot at immortality.

Priority #3: Wake up the echoes.

The gameday experience at Notre Dame is often referred to as "magical" by visiting fans. Only in rare situations (88 Miami, 93 FSU, 05 USC) is Notre Dame Stadium truly an imposing place to play, however.

There are many excuses for the "Disneyfication" of the Notre Dame experience, but they all boil down to a mistaken emphasis on revenue generation over gameday experience.

We need an alcohol policy that provides for a racous but controlled environment. Lower enforcement outside of the stadium, get rid of public intoxication citations in the stadium, and actually increase enforcement and penalties for the truly offensive behavior - vomiting, fighting, etc. Teach the crowd how to drink responsibly, rather than trying to eliminate drinking entirely.

Crucify me if you will, but I would build some luxury boxes in the Stadium - seats where old geezers can get in out of the cold and enjoy the game. Do so without diminishing capacity in the stadium as much as possible. The outside seats would be filled by younger, braver souls willing to cheer their hearts out for the Irish. And lest you think I'm being sacreligious, the luxury boxes could serve as a buffer to reflect the crowd noise back into the stadium, rather than letting it float out unimpeded. Build the luxury boxes on the east side of the stadium, and connect the stadium to the Joyce with a Notre Dame athletics museum and grand entryway celebrating our long history, much like the monogram room in the Joyce, only way more impressive.

Have one night game per year. Pick the marquis game (under the scheduling philosophy, there should be at least 1 every year), move it to primetime. Increase law enforcement with an eye towards safety, rather than punishing drunkenness. Let the fans know that these games are not for the faint of heart. People in the stadium will be loud and obnoxious, and if you don't like it, buy a luxury box seat or stay home. Certainly NOT family-friendly.


The changes discussed above are drastic, and probably not easily implemented. However, many of the problems with Notre Dame's football program seem to stem from a lack of long-term planning.

More so than any other program, Notre Dame is in a unique position where they can be proactive in developing long-term plans to keep this program performing at a high level. Rather than holding on to coaches until they hit their expiration (ala Paterno), execute a transition to a new coach seamlessly - kind of like the transfer of power in the White House.

Have a long term scheduling philosophy that in time will honor Notre Dame's tradition of scheduling teams and games around the country, while achieving the revenue goals and scheduling difficulty that we have so long prided ourselves on.

Have an organization which encourages stability in the assistant coaches and clear paths for promotion (as well as mentor relationships throughout the process, between coordinator and assistant head coach) creates an incentive for assistants to work their way up the ranks, and churns out head coaches for other programs.

This was extremely long-winded (and probably boring as well), but it outlines the basic philosophy I would use to revitalize the program and bring Notre Dame back to their prominence as the greatest college football program in the land. Be a leader, not a follower.

We won't win championships every year, but we should win at least 1 per decade. And this philosophy, I believe, will achieve that goal for years to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guest Blogging: Hoss rants about ND football


If you need depends instead of underwear quit coming to the game! It is all of you old codgers, why ND stadium is not a scary place to play any more. If the only time you stand up is because the person if front of you stood up, so you cant see you need to not come anymore. If you want to try and correct this problem and actually start cheering like you did when you were a student, look at VA tech. VA tech has got it right.


Season Tickets are not a status symbol! I really don’t care how much money you make or how much you gave to the university. The fact is you are not a bigger or better fan than I am, because you can give my annual income, to ND. Also if you think you deserve tickets because you do, might I suggest you moving your family to the east coast and start attending Ivy League football games between Harvard and Yale. They don’t stand up and cheer as often as I do during games, and I won’t be blocking your view anymore. Plus I hear instead of pop and hot dogs for concessions they serve tea and crumpets. Also for people that have certain problems they also serve bran and prunes.


Quit trying to jump off the band wagon when we do lose! College football this year has been nuts. Preseason polls had Clemson in top 10. Penn state was barley in the top 25. Georgia was #1. The only preseason top 25 we have played and lost to is Pitt, and we took them to 4 OT’s. Are other losses are to teams in/around top 25 now. We were 3-9 last year. Anytime that a team improves from one year to the next is successful. Sure we have not made leaps and bounds as far as record goes, but we have in recruiting. When was the last time ND could say we have top 10 recruiting 2 or 3 years in a row? Think about this Joe Montana’s son, Nate is 4th string. Think about that, really think about that.


People who think ND is better than every other college football team, just because it’s ND. Are you people kidding me? Really? News flash…No we are not! Sure we have a lot more history than other schools, and sure maybe we wrote the book on college football, but we are not the all time leader in wins anymore, or in winning percentage. Quit living as if Knute Rockne himself is going to make a special appearance at the next game. The Gipper, Rockne, and the 4 horseman can not help us anymore. I am not saying forget their spirit, please continue to believe that they are with us because they are, I am just saying the game since then has changed.


Give coach Weis a chance! Since we are a community that lives in the past, we should all remember what condition Willingham left this team. Sure Weis had a great season, then good, then bad, but this year is not ugly. Something else you rich alumnus should relate to the stock market. Willingham most likely sensing his firing, (where did he get that notion, oh sure all of you told him,) acted spiteful and did not do anything to help before his final year in recruiting. Only 6 lineman in total in his years led to 58 sacks last year, and starting a true freshman at QB also his fault for not trying to bridge the gap, like all other major program coaches do. You can’t tell me that if we would have a junior starting last year which makes a senior this year and juniors and seniors for an o-line last year would we have gone 3-9. So with all of that said lets see what has happened since coach Weis took over. Top recruiting classes, a sophomore qb that has grown under his tutelage, and oh yeah even with this so so season it looks like we have another top 10 class coming in next year. Anyway just like the stock market the bottom fell out and it’s trying to work itself back up. If all of you richer than god alumnus, are going to fire him please don’t tell him before all of the recruits are signed and are on board. So that way the next coach has at least a chance around here.

Last couple of notes.

It is always darkest before the dawn. I believe that the darkest was last year and it is just early morning for ND football right now. Next season and beyond will be sunny afternoons.

When you point a finger at someone, three are pointing back at you. What’s wrong with ND football alumni? All of you point to coaching which means three fingers are pointing back at you. 1st finger, in my opinion means not standing behind the team and cheering them on to victory, believe it or not athletes live off the energy of the crowd. 2nd finger not giving coach Weis a chance before he starts to feel the pressure, let that man do his thing, let him get a full class through before you all let him go. 3rd finger, making coach Weis feel that a 14 point lead is good enough and that he should play conservative the rest of the game. Running up the score is classified as 5x or 6x to 0 as a final score. When the score is 28-14 getting another score is called putting the game away. Another score after that is still ok because all it means is leaving no doubt. But I am telling you that Coach Weis is afraid to do that because all of you put it in his head that ND has class, and we still would at 42-14. That is just beating someone soundly! Which we have not done in a LONG time. Because of you!!

Lastly, I want to say this, I don’t care who I made angry by writing this. I don’t care if you don’t like me. I believe these things needed to be said and sometimes hearing the truth hurts. Also, there will be more nastiness from me. Trust me someone needs to call the players to the carpet, and without pressuring him with his job, Coach Weis needs to be called out, along with the rest of the coaching staff. Again, is this easy for me to sit back and write? Absolutely. Do I think I am better then all of you? No. Do I think I can do a better job than Coach Weis? No. I am just the guy telling all of you how it is.


Notes from Domer Law:

I disagree with much of what Hoss says above. For starters, we should never be trying to emulate Virginia Tech in anything, including fan behavior.

But he asked me to post this, without editing, so here you go.

And I think the three fingers pointing back at you thing is ridiculous. It's up to the alumni and fans to keep the administration accountable for their actions, and I'm as vocal a fan as there is onSaturday afternoons. But when we lose every game we've played against opponents with winning records for the past two years, there is something wrong with the foundations of the program.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

What now?

Here we are, late in yet another Notre Dame season, and suddenly we're staring down the barrel of yet another disappointing season. All year, I've been predicting that this team will be 9-3 or 8-4, with a loss to USC, and 2 or 3 losses from the likes of Pitt, BC, MSU, and UNC. Instead, we went 0-4 against the decent teams on our schedule so far, with the USC game looming large at the end of the season. Heck, we could lose two straight to Navy.

So the obvious question is, where do we go from here?

A lot of grumblers are talking about parting ways with Weis at the end of the season. While I am no longer as convinced of Weis' coaching ability as I once was, there are a lot of drawbacks to that move.

Consider, for example, what that move would do to recruiting.

We have a top receiver and top running back signed to this year's class. Do they stay on board?

Heck, does Jimmy Clausen stick around, if the mentor he signed on to play for is gone? Who else jumps ship?

Worse yet, who would take this job?

Sure, the talent is there, something that couldn't be said when Weis took the reins of the program. Indeed, I'd argue that the program was in a coma and on life support when Weis took over the program. Now, the program is out of bed and on crutches, but we aren't improving quickly enough.

Look at what Alabama did with Saban, and what Florida did with Urban Meyer. Everyone knew that Notre Dame's reclamation project was going to take longer than those programs - recruiting restrictions alone assured it would take time.

But it's taking too long.

We were supposed to turn the corner this year, get a decent bowl, a bowl win, finish ranked and get set for a run at a championship next year.

I'm not so sure that our program is there right now.

Weis can save his job by winning out, and I would sign on to a zero tolerance policy at this point. If Weis wants to prove his mettle as coach, he needs to take responsibility and accountability.

Weis' own words are going to come back to haunt him.

No excuses.

9-3 isn't good enough.

Which leaves us back to floating names for a replacement.

Top coaches in the country:

Nick Saban, head coach at Alabama. We have 0 shot here. Why would Saban, for any amount of money, leave the #1 team in the country with the largest contract in college football, where he is given plenty of free reign over the program without all of Notre Dame's challenges?

Mike Leach, head coach at Texas Tech.
Mike Gundy, head coach of Oklahoma State.
Gary Pinkel, head coach of Missouri.
This is a possibility, and one I could get on board with. Much was made of Urban Meyer being a "system" coach when he was hired at Florida, and that worked out well for them. All of these teams are clearly explosive on offense, but I'd be concerned about this being too much of a culture shock for the Notre Dame program. And where do we get our defense?

JoePa, head coach at Penn State. Umm, no. I want someone who will be alive when he takes the reins of the program.

Mack Brown, head coach at Texas.
Bob Stoops, head coach at Oklahoma.
Pete Carrol, head coach of Southern Cal.
Jim Tressel, head coach of Ohio State.
Mark Richt, head coach of Georgia.
Les Miles, head coach of LSU.
This group of coaches are excellent caoches that are completely untouchable - they are coaches with huge contracts, a national championship under their belt in this decade(excepting Richt, of course), and their team is in or near the top 10, even after losses.

Chris Pederson, head coach of Boise State.
Kyle Whittingham, head coach of Utah.
Bronco Mendenhall, head coach of BYU.
Gary Patterson, head coach of TCU.
Brady Hoke, head coach of Ball State.
All of these coaches are big risk/reward options. For every Urban Meyer that comes out of a BCS-busting team, you get several Dan Hawkinses. Too risky for the Irish.

Okay, so there are a total of three coaches in the college head coaching ranks that I might be okay with hiring - Gundy, Leach, and Pinkel.

Let's look at college assistants:

Jon Tenuta, defensive assistant at Notre Dame.
Now, here's an interesting choice. He took a demotion to come to Notre Dame, and he has a very long history as a successful defensive coordinator. And the defense, while it has it's flaws, has improved drastically under his watch.

Norm Chow, offensive coordinator at UCLA.
This guy has been around a long time, and has won titles at BYU and USC as an offensive assistant. He's an offensive guy that has developed several top flight QB's. He could walk in here with as much cache as Weis has in developing QBs, possibly allowing us to hold on to Clausen and Crist. Not sure why this guy hasn't been hired as a head coach yet.

Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator for Texas.
Good coach, with a strong background. One of the hottest commodities in college football. And probably completely uninterested in living in cold South Bend, IN.

And in the "Wouldn't this be too perfect?" section:

Skip Holtz, head coach of East Carolina.
Too risky for my book, but would all but guarantee the elder Holtz being plugged back into the program on some level.

So, with those as our options, are we maybe better off waiting to see what happens next year?