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Turning the page

Sep 14, 2009, 1:00 PM EST

I’ll attempt to make this my final post on the Michigan game.

I haven’t been able to watch a replay of the game just yet, and I’m guessing that I probably won’t get around to it this week. And it’s probably for the best. Everybody needs to turn the page.

It’s been interesting (and a little disheartening) to read much of the reaction amongst Notre Dame fans about the game on Saturday. I’ve received more than a few emails from people questioning Weis’ head coaching abilities, play-calling abilities, even his motor-function abilities after the excruciating loss. As much as the loss frustrates and still shocks me, I’m still firmly aboard the Charlie Weis bandwagon.

The man is the coach of the Notre Dame football team.

There is nothing easier than second guessing coaching decisions from the comfort of our couch or office seat. Did Weis have his A game on Saturday? Absolutely not. I’m sure that Weis would like to have that final series on offense back, just like Jon Tenuta and Corwin Brown would like to go back to halftime and do a better job preparing their troops for Michigan’s offense.

But they can’t.

I can’t help but thinking about the devastating 2005 loss to USC. If you’re trying to gauge how Weis will handle the game-week preparations for this week, you can look back at his comments from his press conferences following the game four seasons ago:

First thing I said was get your heads up because everyone is feeling
bad. And they got their heads up and I very matter of factly said that
I was proud of their effort in the game. Because how could you not be
proud of their effort? I thought the preparation was good. It wasn’t
like we didn’t have errors throughout the game; we had plenty, okay.
But I thought that they played a game that put themselves in the
position to win and they expected to win.

“I was actually pleased that they were that disappointed,
because if they weren’t disappointed, then you really have a problem.
But I wanted them to know that you know my party line, that it’s not
okay to lose, ever, especially when you have that many opportunities to
ice the game.

“But at the same time I wanted to let them know that I was proud
of their effort and I also wanted to make sure they understood that BYU
represents the first opportunity for the second half of the year. And
it isn’t like you just played a game for the National Championship and
your season’s over. You hit the halfway mark, so it’s time for us to
regroup and that’s what we’ll be doing today.

During his Tuesday remarks three days later, Weis’ first comments echoed the same sentiments:

“As we begin the second half of our season, we’re approaching it that
way, the message to the team this week is this is the start, it’s the
first game of the second half of the season. As you talk to our players
and coaches this week, they’re only going to be talking about the
second half of the season; they’re not going to be talking about the
first half of the season. So don’t bother asking the questions on that
because they won’t be talking about it.

The Irish went out the next week and behind 467 yards of passing from Brady Quinn, rolled BYU 49-23 at Notre Dame stadium. It was a much needed victory that helped reestablish the Irish’s confidence and salvage a BCS season.

That’s the approach the Irish need to take if they want to be successful against a Michigan State team that had a devastating loss of their own to Central Michigan. And for fans of the Irish, it’s probably the best way for all of us to keep our sanity.

  1. CJ - Sep 14, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    I feel that Weis should take responsibility for ND’s loss, especially when his play calling and clock management were so very poor. He should demonstrate some character and not put the blame on relatively minor “mistakes” players made on the field. Give me a break with that – Not even Pro-Bowl players have perfect execution for 60 minutes on the field. Execution was not the problem – Weis’ poor game plan was, especially in the 4th quarter.
    Yes, I’m one of those angry alumni who don’t care for Weis. But I don’t want ND to just replace him with the next flashy big name – I would prefer someone who could teach the students character, and lead by example. Weiss has not shown he is capable of either in my book.

  2. Carlos E Bauza - Sep 14, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    Charlie is clearly out of his depth. He rose to his level of incompetence, and that is where he has been residing for the last four years: at his level of incompetence.
    As long as Charlie is at Notre Dame the team will be hurt because of Charlie’s incompetence. Read “The Peter Principle” and understand what’s going on.
    No amount of additional learning will help Charlie. He is clearly at his level of incompetence.

  3. CJ - Sep 14, 2009 at 5:03 PM

    I agree with Carlos!

  4. Tom G. - Sep 14, 2009 at 5:32 PM

    Hey, I’m a die hard ND fan and loved the game. Would’ve loved it more if we had pulled it out. But I’m totally behind Coach Weis’s attitude of play to win the game. I was at the ND – UCLA game a few years ago when they won it in the last minute. UCLA did exactly what people are criticizing Weis for not doing – running the ball, running down the clock, and punting. If they had passed and made just one first down, the IRISH would never have gotten the ball back. This is college football. Go for it!

  5. Mark - Sep 14, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    Great article, one I really needed to read. I’ve been feeling rather lost as an ND fan after last Saturday’s performance, but outside of a few questionable calls at the end of the game I do feel Weis did a great job as the OC. As there is NOTHING we can do about the Michigan fiasco (until next year of course) I’m firmly in the camp of looking forward. We need to destroy MSU this weekend, take down Purdue the next, build some confidence with a significant scoring game against the Huskies, and then get fired up for USC! All this talk of firing Weis needs to end. Let’s focus on doing the absolute best we can through the end of this season and then we can accurately evaluate history versus speculating about the future.

  6. tina - Sep 14, 2009 at 8:20 PM

    I love ND

  7. Steve - Sep 14, 2009 at 8:45 PM

    Great article Keith! There is no reason not to support Coach Weis. At the end of the day, we all would rather have a coach who calls plays to win the game and not to “not lose” the game. And for everyone who mistakenly thinks that running out the clock would have worked have forgotten the 2005 USC game where the fact that they didn’t have any timeouts didn’t prevent them from going 80 yards in less time than Michigan had to go 58 yards. Again, the defense has to be able to stop a freshmen quarterback with 2 minutes left to go in the game. Also, Darrin Walls needs to be able to play defense in the end zone. It certainly was not Charlie’s fault that Walls was behind a receiver in the end zone.

  8. Fitz - Sep 14, 2009 at 9:40 PM

    I admire your loyaty in standing behind Weis as the ND coach, but I think you miss a very salient point. The UM game was one of those “should have, could have, would have” games that ND didn’t win. Every team has those from time to time, but under Weis ND has had far too many games they lost where they “should have, could have, would have” won. This is a reflection on coaching – not just in-game coaching/decisions, but encompassing all aspects of head coaching. The guy just doesn’t have it.

  9. Pete from Cary, NC - Sep 14, 2009 at 10:17 PM

    Keith, It’s OK to quote Weis from 2005 after their loss to USC. The overall tone was to learn from that game and move on. One big problem with that though. It was never expected that ND would beat USC because the Trojans were more talented. ND was winning on emotion and Brady’s arm before they lost it. In last Saturday’s game against Michigan, the Irish WERE expected to win because they do have more talent than the guys from the big house. That is why this loss hurts more than 20 kicks to the head. Yes, there were many errors on both sides of the ball and there were a couple of bad calls. However, the game was lost on the sidelines. How can this guy Weis give the impression that he is an offensive genius but when it comes to crunch time he acts and calls plays like a moron. In the last minutes of the game, you want ball control to eat clock. I am not saying you cannot throw the ball in those situations but why all the way down the field? How about 10-15 yards down field and keep ownership of the ball? This loss cost them BCS bid.

  10. Charles - Sep 14, 2009 at 11:40 PM

    Urban Myer please!

  11. Big Ron - Sep 15, 2009 at 12:36 AM

    We love coach Weis love USC

  12. robertg - Sep 15, 2009 at 5:05 AM

    keith,
    we have every confidence in charlie, in his staff, and in every student athletes at notre dame who also plays football.
    contrary to some of the trash that has crept into nd central from the usual suspects, everyone who really has anything to say in decisions about notre dame football shares in that confidence.
    the only people who should be concerned are the crooked refs and those who have providing cover for them for many years.
    like the former big shots at enron and mci worldcom and other business scams, we will be relieving them all of their material possessions in the civil courts.
    GO IRISH!!!

  13. tom doyle - Sep 15, 2009 at 7:42 AM

    It is trult sad that everyone is missing the big picture. NOTRE DAME gets robbed by hometown officals again. NOTRE DAME will never win a big game again because of the officals.Ibelieve the NCAA has mandated that n.d. not be given a fare shake on calls I say this because anyone who knows anything about football can see the bad calls agains’t N.D.,always stalling a drive or calling back a T.D..Had the officals looked at armando allens T.D. from the back side they would of seen his foot was not on the line,from what they saw how could they rule his foot was on the line;bad call again.On every play the refs should of calledholding on michigans defense on golden tate or michael floyd! Pat haden even commented on how michigan was getting away with these no calls! Then cry baby rodriguez runs on the field complaining about a call. Thats a 15yard penalty no debate, thats the rule, no call again. THE WORST AND THE SADIEST Game was when reggie bush pushes his quarterback matt leinart over the goal line a clear,not a debatable rule a 15yard penalty- no call by the pac 10 officals,SAD!! But the truly sad thing is the college game day crew Laugh it off as a big JOKE [HA, HA, BUSH CHEATED and they won the game] So again we prove to the world we are a nation of cheaters who have to win at all cost. The NCAA has not lifted a finger or suspended any offical for outwardly favoring one team over another.Until someone investigates the officiating of all N.D. gamesfor the last 5years and sees the same pattern over and over than N.D.willnever win a big game again.The only way theycould win is to buy there own officals!! NO Officals in this game N.D. wins 48-38 TWO Touchdowns called back how absurd can you get! TWO Touchdowns called back in one game don’t that make you think whats wrong with this picture!! The Reason the NCAA is black balling N.D. is because of its refusal to join the big 10 and make a super conference!!! PETE Carroll walks up and down the sidelines at he wishes! you not surpose to go past your 40yard line or your opponents 40yard line thats called the coaches box I have seen his coaches on the goal line giving instructions to his players? Many times I thought he had people in the stands radioing back other teams defenses or giving hand signals, but if your coaches are standing right next to the players, youcan just tell them what to do.ALSO carroll plays up to the refs. Before each game[hey uncle joe or hey uncle bob are you going to give me the calls today, really sad shows no respect for the other colleges. ONE THING MORE after N.D. is robbed at home by m.s. on a bad call,ALL N.D. fans and ALUMNI AND Students should stop going to games, stop watching games. If enough N.D. fans do this, and N.D. Loses money and the NCAA loses money maybe something will finally get done. I have taped NOTRE DAME games since 1988, if they get robbed this saturday it will be the last college football game Iwill ever watch!!!

  14. robertg - Sep 15, 2009 at 8:58 AM

    keith,
    you really should watch the 2009 michigan/notre dame game, the 2006 michigan/ notre dame game, and the 2005 notre dame/usc game again several times.
    but, before you do so, try reading the ncaa rules 1st and then focus on the refs and the penalties called and not called by crooked ref crews in the case of each game. in the case of the 2005 usc game and the 2009 michigan game, pay special attention to the illegal manipulation of the game clock by those crooked refs. in the case of the 2006 michigan game, pay special attention to the illegal manipulation of the play clock by crooked ref denis lipski of the big 10, which was done to throw off notre dame’s offensive and defensive rythms and did, along with other dishonest penalty calls and non calls by that same crooked ref crew alter the outcome of that game and make the game appear to be a blowout win by michigan.
    despite the fact that charlie and his staff and the notre dame team got cheated out of wins by crooked refs in each of those games, charlie and his staff and notre dame’s student athletes had no trouble putting those paper losses behind them and making it to 2 bcs bowls in a row in 2005 and 2006 with great talent at some positions, little talent at other positions and zero depth anywhere.
    you may perceive that you were flooded with emails from notre dame fans and alums questioning charlie’s coaching ability.
    however, not one of those emailers presented any proof that they were really notre dame alums or fans.
    this type of phony email traffic is generated by notre dame enemies and those who work for them, such as eric hansen of the south bend tribune and his associates at some so called notre dame fan sites who try to gouge money from real notre dame fans in return for phony information and also accept favors from people like pete carroll and notre dame’s competitors in the recruiting wars who try to persuade recruits that they should not commit to notre dame because the jobs of charlie and his staff are not secure.
    charlie and his staff have done everyting that notre dame has asked and much more.
    charlie and his staff have brought the notre dame recruiting network back from the dead. they have done so with very hard work and with honesty and integrity and without compromising notre dame’s very high academic and character standards.
    some people at notre dame who no longer have any say about notre dame football did have some discussions with urban meyer before charlie was chosen by the people who now make all decisions about football at notre dame, each of whom is a notre dame alum who had great success at notre dame in the classroom, on the football field, in the nfl, and in life after the nfl.
    urban meyer was never offered the coaching job at notre dame because urban insisted on concessions that notre dame would not make, such as special easy courses for football players and special athlete only dorms which urban has the use of at florida to park those football players who want no part of real academic obligations or the type of limitations on their off campus activities which exist at notre dame for purposes of character and real academic skills development, but which are not requirements at florida.
    some people look at urban meyer as a great football coach and he is that. however, not one of the people who now make football decisions at notre dame suffers from any delusions that urban meyer could possibly have achieved that success at notre dame under notre dame’s rules.
    urban belongs at florida. urban was, and remains, afraid to take on the task that charlie and his staff and notre dame’s student athletes take on every season.
    with florida alums having great influence within the sec conference, urban does not have to be concerned about crooked reffing in sec games and he fills his non conference slate with complete cupcakes.
    urban may be a fine man and a fine college football coach. however, urban could never be an acceptable coach for notre dame. charlie and his staff and notre dame’s student athletes and their support systems within notre dame consistently give notre dame a top 5 graduation success rate among the schools playing bcs division football while florida ranks way back in the dust.
    when you factor out the courses which have no real academic contentwhich exist at places like florida and lsu and usc,but never at notre dame, the gap becomes deeper than the grand canyon.
    all of these factors have to do with the respect that notre dame has for the futures of every notre dame student, whether or not they are also student athletes.
    using great high school athletes for athletic abilities only and then casting them out into the world with zero marketable skills if the nfl or the nba does not work out is a road that notre dame will never take.
    every student athlete who stays the course at notre dame leaves with one or more degrees in areas that provide him or her with excellent marketable skills and the ability to protect themselves from crooked agents and financial advisors when they do make the nfl or the pros in other sports, something which will become more and more common in football now that charlie and his staff have brought notre dame recruiting back to life.
    the people who now make all football decisions at notre dame are people who have no trouble identifying any game stolen by crooked refs and none of these people sent you any emails questioning charlie’s coaching decisions or abilities.
    notre dame now has great talent and speed at every position, along with depth of talent, and experience for this and future seasons.
    the only exception is the youth and relative inexperience on the dline, but there is no lack of talent or speed at those positions either with bryant young’s and coach hart’s presences being invaluable to quick maturity.
    but for the crooked ref problem, this notre dame team could easily have run the table and won a national championship.
    with one highly questionable loss and much more pressure and scrutiny on the crooked refs, running the rest of the table and winning a bcs game is highly likely.
    however, until we eliminate the crooked ref industry completely in the civil courts, something which we have more than enough evidence to do now, well before the 2010 season begins, notre dame, as an independent, will be facing a number of games in which crooked reffing will be a factor.
    charlie and his staff understand that, every notre dame student athlete understands that, and so does every person who now has any real decision making power about notre dame football.
    but for charlie’s immense success and coaching abilities, other schools would not have to resort to buying crooked refs in games against notre dame.
    now that charlie and his staff and notre dame’s student athletes who also play football, we will put an end to the crooked reffing industry and replace it with an honest high tech system transparent to the public.
    having brought down really sophisticated con operations such as enron and mci worldcom and having learned in depth about the game and business of college football and thje crooked ref con operation since the fall of 2005, we are fully prepared to take wrecking balls to the current conference and ncaa rules enforcement and reffing systems and to replace them with honest high tech systems for the benefit of every student athlete at notre dame and at every other school.
    we congratulate you on surviving that 1st big wave of hostile email traffic. it is something that comes with the territory of running an honest nd central and an honest notre dame football program.
    the uscs and the floridas and the lsus and michigans of this world are terrified that notre dame will succeed using notre dame’s rules and standards.
    wnen that happens, these other schools will lose all the student athletes with intelligence to the notre dames and stanfords and boston colleges of the college football world.
    GO IRISH!!!

  15. Fred Shaheen - Sep 15, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    A successful head football coach at the University of Notre Dame must be a master of motivation as well as a task master. Lou Holtz was a success not only because he was a great motivator but more so because his teams feared him. He was relentless, he never gave up. He did not tolerate anything less than perfection.

  16. Richard Irish - Sep 15, 2009 at 10:57 AM

    We were just one catch away from a win at Michigan. Now we need to play Michigan State and make every catch instead of dropping them. Plain and simple.

  17. Richard - Sep 15, 2009 at 11:01 AM

    Charlie Weis is a very good coach and he can get the job done. In fact, I am still expecting a lot of wins and a BCS bowl.
    He loves Notre Dame just as much as I do.
    Right now we have to focus on the Spartans and beating them will be no easy task.

  18. Jeff Majerek - Sep 15, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    CW is our coach. It’s his team. Win, lose, or draw, I say he has at least another year. I had predicted we were a year away and it appears I may be right. We need another year to mature that D line. If Charlie can’t put it together next year – 11-1 or 12-0 – with THAT team (okay, he’s getting a pass with a 10-2 year). Then look around. At that point we have a QB (Crist) with 3 years of Weis tutelage and 2 years of eligibility and a roster of Weis recruits who seem to be fine ND men and atheletes. Whe all things are rebalanced in the universe, we will win again! We will dominate again! Because? WE ARE ND… and they’re not.

  19. Mas - Sep 15, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    For those of you wanting Charlie gone, be prepared for more Ty type recruiting classes. Oh Boy! Charlie gives ND the BEST chance to win. He gambled and lost. But it wasn’t the offense that lost this one.

  20. hondo - Sep 15, 2009 at 12:40 PM

    This was one of the most disappointing losses we have experienced lately and emotions are at a fever pitch. This is understandable, however, I think we have to get behind and stay behind our present coach and give him our support. Why? 5 reasons:
    1) He gave a very plausible explanation as to why he felt he had to throw the ball at the end of the game,
    2) Our offense was very potent against Michigan and the arrow is continuing to point up. If we had pulled out the win, people would be gushing about another great performance by our QB and Allen’s first real rushing statement. These great performances were unfortunately overshadowed by the outcome,
    3) A BCS season is still possible and if we get a good bowl game, Weis will have a 60% success rate at that (3 times in his 5 years is not too shabby),
    4) The guy is a master at recruiting. I have friends that say Urban is a better recruiter but that is comparing apples to criminals. Could Urban Meyer be any more effective a recruiter if he could only take players that had the capacity to actually graduate? Also, there are recruits out there who follow these boards as avidly as we do, so we should show a lot more support for CW, and last but not least,
    5) He is a good guy as evidenced by things like Pass Right, Hannah Foundation, other charity work, etc. He exemplifies the qualities we would like to see in every person and he is an excellent example and mentor to his student athletes.
    The only thing I can really knock him on is his penchant toward gambling in certain situations. He has gone for it on 4th down more than any human being I’ve ever seen. When it works, we all love it and he’s the hero but when it doesn’t, he’s the goat. Which brings me back to reason #1 above.
    If Golden catches that pass or the ref had the decency to make a good call and throw the flag for pass interference, his gamble would have paid off again, game over, case closed. I have to say I really don’t know how I feel about that issue because when he does take a gamble and it pays off, I’m the first one to cheer for the team. But it’s risky and as the old saying goes, “That’s why they call it gambling.” It is particularly hard to accept when the outcome of the game turns on his gamble and that’s what happened on Saturday.
    That, and oh yeah our defense really stunk up the field. Can’t these guys tackle effectively? And Darius Fleming….the commentator even noted that his jock was left on the field after that fake out by Forcier on his TD scramble. We were always taught to look at the hips when tackling. You can be fooled by a head fake, arm, etc but your hips always go with you. Well, enough rambling on, it doesn’t change what happened. However,I am fully behind Weis.

  21. gregizzo - Sep 15, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    The article is good! The fact of the matter is the game should have been over at halftime. The game should have been out of reach and the only thing Charlie should have had to worry about was who was he going give game experince to. Clausen was a statue in the backfield the whole first half, nobody touch him, he could have written a paper, drank some water, and still had time to throw a pass. The fact that is 20-17 at the half is when the problems started for the Irish not in the 4th quater. Michigan had no answer for anything Notre Dame did on offense. Notre Dame should of hung sixty on the wolverines that is fact.

  22. colin - Sep 15, 2009 at 3:23 PM

    will anyone really be crying for charlie to leave if the irish end the season 10-2. besides usc, notre dame has a real good shot at winning the rest of their games.

  23. Angry Irishman - Sep 15, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    Charlie needs to go! We have seen alomost five years of the stupidity with this program. I am a life time ND fan since the Joe Montana days. I am at the end of my rope with Weis who doesn’t have one signature win since he took over the job as head coach. W e were all lulled into a false sense when he came over from the NFL with the Patriots and three Super Bowl rings etc. Weis is not a good college coach and apparently hasn’t learned over the past few years. The loss on Saturday was brutal to say the least. They let a 180 lb freshman QB run all over the field and embarrass them in the “Big Mouse” not the “Big House”. Would a Lou Holtz coachwed team lost the game on Saturday? I dont think so! Lou was one of the best big game coaches in America. Somebody needs to start a website http://WWW.FIRECHARLIE.COM

  24. Gregizzo - Sep 15, 2009 at 4:05 PM

    The website already exists just check ESPN, Foxsports, Rivals.com on any day for the last two seasons and I’m sure you will be satisfied with the fire charlie club. The second largest club is “bash the big 10″ club along with “Kiss Pete Carrolls backside club”. I suggest you check it out.

  25. Fitz - Sep 15, 2009 at 4:16 PM

    robertg was sorta correct in his post that “urban meyer was never offered the coaching job at notre dame because urban insisted on concessions that notre dame would not make….” Although Meyer was never formally “offered” the ND job it was his if he wanted it…which he didn’t when he didn’t get the concessions he wanted.

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