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Time to batten down the hatches

Nov 10, 2009, 7:30 AM EDT

There’s been so much rumbling and grumbling the past 48 hours that many people have forgotten that Notre Dame’s most important game on the post-USC schedule is coming up this Saturday. While there may not be BCS relevancy anyone, Notre Dame is now playing for much more than a BCS bid, they’re playing for legitimacy, and possibly playing for their head coach.

While the comments section has turned into a therapy board the last few days, here’s guessing that the Irish will batten down the hatches and take the opportunity to rally around their embattled coach. Down to a player, there weren’t many guys who watched the tape from Saturday and didn’t see something they could’ve done to help win the ballgame. Even the players who had the biggest games all missed a play or made a mistake that cost the Irish. Put if you learn anything as a football player, it’s that there is no looking in the rear-view mirror. 

I’m still shocked that the Irish lost Saturday, and I’m guessing the guys in the locker room are even more surprised by what happened under their noses. Yet the recipe for the trap was there right in front of us, and most of us kept looking right on by Navy and right toward this tough three game stretch that starts this Saturday night at Pittsburgh (myself included).

I’m not ready to call a 9-3 season a failure. But 9-3 is miles away, and if we’ve learned anything, this team doesn’t have the ability to look beyond any opponent on their schedule, let alone a one-loss Pitt team that sits in the top ten. The margin for error for this team has disappeared.

With the BCS dreams gone and the national spotlight only shining on the program for the wrong reasons, only now will we see what type of fight is in the Fighting Irish.

  1. dan - Nov 10, 2009 at 7:48 AM

    i am not sure if ironic is the right word here, but as i read you point out the comment section has turned to a therapy board, it was all but a few moments ago my wife made a point of her own. in the weeks following a win, take washington st for example, there was a total of 17 comments posted on the articles relevant to that game. in the week following a loss, take navy for example, there was a total of 206 comments posted on the articles relevant to that game. why do more people feel the need to spout out when the loss occurs but can not say good job after a win? for some of the young men playing, it is their future, for the rest of them and us as fans, it is merely a game. 9-3 with promise of a better season ahead, clausen is a “gamer” he can’t go after this season, makes me happy. it has been a great year of exciting games, not all bounces going our way, but fight on irish, we are rooting for you.

  2. Rob - Nov 10, 2009 at 7:53 AM

    Dan- That’s because misery loves company. We expect the Irish to win, so when they do we’re merely satisfied because we expected it. Not enough emotion to move someone to comment in most cases. But when they lose to a team that probably doesn’t have more than 1 or 2 players on their 2 deep who would start for the Irish, rage ensues. Thus, more comments. Navy was the one with the “Decided Schematic Advantage,” that’s for sure!

  3. KAS - Nov 10, 2009 at 8:07 AM

    We will lose to Pitt & Stanford & win against CT. We will finish the season 7-5. Our defense can not beat Pitt, & Stanford will out coach us. If we go to a bowl game, it will be so low on the bowl tier it will make the Hawaii Bowl seem like the Rose Bowl!
    We have a fantastic offense, but it is so predictable. We have 3 great running backs in Allen, Hughes, Riddick, but only ONE sees the field at a time! What would a defense do if we lined 2 of them up in split backs PLUS Clausen, Tate, Floyd, Ragone/Rudolph? Go nuts if we called CREATIVE plays!! BUT our defense is STILL our Achilles heel.
    Anyone have any ideas as to what is wrong with our defense & how we could fix it at this point in the season? I do, but I’d like to hear some opinions here. Note: everyone has an opinion as to what is WRONG, but the key is also how can we also FIX it – besides getting another coach at this point.

  4. Jim, Hudson, Ohio - Nov 10, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    The difference between ND and Navy was heart….Navy had it ND didn’t. ND and their fans must stop thinking they expect to win because they’re ND. They need to forget about their individual recruiting credentials and play the game with respect for their opposition. On the field it’s how you play not how you should have played and ND dropped the ball again!

  5. KAS - Nov 10, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    Dan, Rob’s point is right on! Anger, frustration are 2 adjectives that pop into my head when I think of Saturday’s game. Both of those were directed at the incompetence that I was witnessing on the screen.
    As Rob noted, passion moves us to speak up while satisfaction compels us to inertia. So “therapy” is a good word. We use these blogs as outlets for our “negative” emotions.
    Your wife & you however do make a good point when you say that too often we fail to say “Well Done” to the players who are NOT the “players” but the game pieces in this board game we’ve come to call Notre Dame football. The real players are the coaches. You are both right when you say we need to remember it is THEY who are playing, NOT Weis, Tenuta, & Co.
    Thanks Dan for being the voice of reason that we need to remind us of that fact.

  6. TLNDMA - Nov 10, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    To point out the glaringly inadequate coaching of this team,is not a slam of the players. Others of us have no control of who posts. I have had many(mostly) positive posts. I for one doubt that anyone roots and pulls for these players any harder than I. Thus my angst at their coaching situation.

  7. Keith Arnold - Nov 10, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    Don’t think I haven’t noticed this same phenomenon. It’s tough to take and I’m fine with letting people vent if that’s what gets them through the day. That said, don’t think many of us would be able to handle the swings of public sentiment after a bad day at the office like the one CW and the players had on Saturday.

  8. Robert92 - Nov 10, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    This game against Pitt will reveal whether the entire team has given up on its coaching staff. CW, Tenuta and Brown have probably lost a good portion of the defense based on their lack of preparation and CW’s comments about Ian Williams. As for the offense, they could be on the verge of tuning CW out as well based on his same old, same old approach to game planning.
    At this point the players are clearly not the issue, it is a poor coach and staff producing poor results.

  9. Jan - Nov 10, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    and comment to Dan… my mind the word is “feel entitled” instead of expect. And why do Irish fans (me included at times) have the right to feel entitled to victories, NC, etc.? – beyond irrational or fan(atic).
    Fan entitlement – I took my son to the Syracuse game last year (last road trip together before he headed off to college). The overwhelming emotion I sensed in the stands was entitlement followed by throwing snowballs at the Irish team & staff when the results weren’t to the fans’ liking. Pray for me fellow fans, I almost got into a physical altercation with a PRIEST (and obvious Syracuse fan) who was sitting in front of us. He was gloating at ND’s shortcoming during the 4th QTR and calling out “Good Bye Charlie” while on his cell phone arranging his mass assignment for the following day. Totally irrational on my part and a horrible example to my son, bless me Father for I have sinned.
    I saw a recent blog posting by a lady who attended the Navy game; she reported similiar fan reactions – entitlement, pleasant chit chat, silent lack of cheering during critical points, etc. She was amazed by the smiles and and apparent indifference to the loss as fans exited the stadium. It was not only the team that was “flat” on gameday.
    I’m afraid that I’ve become one of those old fart alums that I sneered about while a student at ND – “silly old man/alum, what do you know”. I recall standing for every play and cheering until hoarse while squeezed into the student section. It was as if my spirit was on the field with the players and I hurt when they hurt and rejoiced when they rejoiced. When the game was over, it was over – and we moved on. The thought of throwing anything at Irish players was as acceptable (please excuse the crude analogy) as urinating in the Grotto – no, I never did that! Granted, not very rational or mature (ask my wife) but I still feel that way…silly old man.
    It’s only a game, but a religious experience in some ways for me as well. I pray that the players (ND and Opponents) escape each game injury free, and that the Irish players are inspired by the Holy Spirit to play up to their abilities and potential on each and every snap. (I’m sure my theology professors would cringe at this outlook).
    This is what I “expect” of the true Irish fans. Support the team, coaches, etc. through to the end of the season with every fiber of our beings. Then let’s rationally discuss what’s best for the future of the program.
    Silly old man….
    Jan ND’69
    P.S. As fitting penance for my “Priest Incident”, my son Phil is now attending Syracuse…I now bleed Blue, Gold, and Orange. God works in strange ways. Pray for me, fellow alums.

  10. IndianaJoe - Nov 10, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    Good grief Jan!!!
    This is a game, not a war in the middle east. These are athletes playing that game, not soldiers fighting and dying. I would suggest that we save our prayers for something that is a little more significant that a game.
    Having said that, I have been a fan for years, graduating one year ahead of you, but not from ND. I envy you that experience. Very simply said, I am disappointed when ND loses, but if they played hard and just got beat by a better team, I can live with it. This is not the case, and I don’t believe it is the players issue. The defense was not ready to play Navy on Saturday. They played hard, but they were out coached, plain and simple. It’s being totally out coached and then saying he wouldn’t change a thing that have me upset. I don’t thing the players think they “should” win because they are ND. I believe that they know the game plan sucks at best, and than they probably don’t even have a game plan in reality.
    Regarding fan/student indifference, remember the last time the Irish had a truly respectable team was in the early 1990’s, when they were too young to remember. It’s old fans like me who remember the tradition and pride in having done it and done it the right way that get upset by Charlie’s arrogance. I remember what Ara did in 1964 after a 2 and 7 season the year before. For those who don’t remember, it was a 9 and 1 season, that came within 90 seconds of being 10 and 0 and wining the national championship. The Irish had been a bad team for at least 10 years, but in one year he told these players and made them into a contender.
    Weiss has had five and …………………………..
    It’s supper time, I will stop venting now.

  11. ugetwutuask4 - Nov 10, 2009 at 7:03 PM

    I’ll end the GOOD, the BAD, the UGLY, like this:
    The good is ND has rich history, yes. Currently a good COACH who is proving that the EXPLOSIVE players ND needs at the SKILL positions to WIN in big time college football are WILLING to sit on ND’s side of the football “table” when ND meets on saturdays to discuss “BUSINESS” with the “BIG EIGHT” or any other team ND might face in a big time bowl game in the future. ND FORGETS that back when GOOD OL’ MR HOLTZ was around ND still had PROBLEMS with DEPTH on ND’s roster. Well maybe not depth but lets just say not as many future nfl players. Or at least you can say not as many as the CANES (CONVICTS), NOLES, GATORS, ETC. So, these teams have always been around. Even when ND was WINNING natn’l CHAMPIONSHIPS and facing teams such as the ‘CANES (CONVICTS) AND NOLES LOADED with plenty of NFL talent, which are teams compairable to toady’s GATORS and USC teams. ND knew back then ND couldn’t compare to the AMOUNT and SIZE of talent they had but ND WAS TOUGH ENOUGH to BEAT those teams on any given day ESPECIALLY at HOME. Don’t forget ND is merely trying to “eat” with them because on any given day EVERY team is BEATABLE, I’m sure any- and everyone would agree with that even if you live in VEGAS, L.A., DALLAS, MIAMI, ETC. ND may or may not EVER be a DYNASTY AGAIN but I’m sure EVERYONE would be happy with 1 ‘CHIP every 10 OR 20 YEARS as long as ND has waited! The DIFFERENCE is back then, HOLTZ was able to get in a players FACE and MOTIVATE the players to if nothing else DEFEND ND’s FIELD, ND’s TURF, ND’s HOME. ND needs that back. The number one IMPROVEMENT I can see to DEFEND ND’s “PLATE” ND’s “SEAT” at the “table” is, ND’s FRONTLINE. LOU had BIG, PHYSICAL, TOUGH, INTELLIGENT LINEMAN who were getting DRAFTED left and right by NFL teams. Saturday ND saw an O-line and D-line that was BEATEN BADLY for ND’s “SEAT” at the “TABLE”, something HOTLZ would never have allowed. I’m NOT saying it is or isn’t ND’s current coaches fault. But EVERY PLAYER at ND’s “TABLE” were recruited to defend ND’s TEAMMATES and ND’s UNIVERSITY. I never experienced college life but I did play football at a high level at MT.CARMEL in CHICAGO, IL., home of players such as McNABB, SIMEON RICE, CHRIS CALLOWAY just to name a few; and attended ND’s games in SOUTH BEND, IN. and at SOLDIER’S FIELD. I know that their is “TALENT” in the MIDWEST along with CAL, TX, FL, OH, ETC. Not as much but it’s their.
    The BAD is WHO can PROVE, or will PROVE, or has PROVEN that they can get ND back to that natn’l game? At least 1 more time if not ever again in ND’s LIFETIME. When it really MEANS something IE CHAMPIONSHIP. Because everyweek means SOMETHING to ND that’s nothing new. BUT like on saturday it meant EVERYTHING to NAVY and EVERYTHING to ND in terms of a BCS BID and ND did not show up to play ND’s part.
    The UGLY is ND’s CURRENT coach, THOUGH a great MAN albeit, has PROVEN with his RECORD when measuring W’S AND L’S when they count MOST, that he is INEFFECTIVE! How can ND get to the BIG one if ND can’t BEAT the little ONES for ND’s spot at the “TABLE”?

  12. Terry from Maine - Nov 10, 2009 at 11:24 PM

    FYI – I did not graduate from ND. I went there in 1961, (Farley Hall, Dillon Hall) flunked out, went into the service (I heard the 1966 Southern Cal game on a short-wave radio in Turkey) came back in 1967, (“Go Schoen go”) flunked out again.
    Again remember “Ara stop the snow?” GREAT memory.
    The last time I was on Campus was about 8 years ago. I was there to protest the fact that the play ‘The Vagina Monologues’ was going to have its annual opening night performance on Ash Wednesday at Washington Hall. We were not allowed to pass out flyers.
    Notre Dame came to be great for many reasons, one of them being the fact that for generations it was the University where 1st and 2nd generation Catholic immigrants wanted to send their children to give them a good start in the world and at the same time get a good Catholic education. Those times are history – if you get a Notre Dame degree these days you will have earned it, but IMO they lost the right to call themselves a Catholic University last spring. It is Catholic In Name Only and they should probably change the name of the University.
    We Catholics don’t handle success very well – we do better when under adverse circumstances.
    I remember the BC game in 1993 when BC came to ND and beat them the week after ND had beaten Florida State. In the middle of the 3rd quarter when BC was kicking butt – before the GREAT comeback started – Commentator Chris Collinsworth noted that the seeds for what we were watching had been planted the previous year in the 3rd quarter of the 1992 game played at ND. Punter Craig Henrich (sp?) went back for a punt with ND leading 37-0. It was a fake punt and he ran for a first down. Afterwards the camera caught him and his pals standing on the sideline yukking it up. Then it showed the BC players on the sideline watching. When you do that – kick the s..t out of a team and then rub their nose in it – the gods note it. And they exact a penalty. Sometimes it is short and sometimes it is long. In ND’s case it has lasted for a long time because ND has its own particular brand of arrogance which does not speak well of the place. I’m not speaking of the team, I am speaking of the people who follow them as revealed in these posts.
    Saturday they were beaten by a better TEAM. At no point did I get the impression that they were going to win. Charlie Weis is a hell of a fine guy, but he is NOT a big-time college football coach. If they don’t win out this season he is toast, if indeed he isn’t already.
    I used to care passionately about Notre Dame, but such is no longer the case.

  13. Jan - Nov 11, 2009 at 12:37 AM

    I hear you..and admit to being irrational at times – especially while watching the games. There are more important causes to pray for, but I don’t think God sets a quota….back to football –
    I believe the so called Charlie quote that “he wouldn’t change a thing” was taken totally out of context. See Keith’s article “Charlie…What he Said”. I listened and read the transcript of his Tues press conference. He said that once the game is over, his focus is totally on the winning the next game. Period. Not his job security, not who will stay for an additional year, etc. He specifically said that he would not change this approach. Paraphrasing – game plans, schemes, etc. would be changed BUT not the approach of focusing on the NEXT game. Period.
    Unless the “wouldn’t change a thing” statement came from another press conference……

  14. Terry from Maine - Nov 11, 2009 at 9:07 AM

    I remember once way back in the 60s reading an article in which ND priests said that whenever ND lost a football game the number of students who confessed to having committed the sin of ‘self-abuse’ (figure it out) went way up. (Keep in mind that ND didn’t go coed until 1972-1973).
    I remember being at a wedding reception in 1969 where the music was being furnished by none other than ‘Captain Electric and the Flying Lapels’. In walked none other than Ara Parseghian, who walked up to one of the guys in the band – Geoff Gillette- and said “How many people are in your orchestra?”
    I remember the game against Syracuse in 1962 (Ernie Davis played for them that year) when the Irish were behind 15-14 and tried a field goal on the last play of the game which was short but there was a roughing the kicker penalty so they got to kick it again and this time it was good and the Irish won 17-15 and we all went kinda nuts and stormed the field and it was kind of fun.
    If memory serves there followed a panty-raid on SMC.
    It’s only a game. Yes I am a silly old man but I have earned that distinction, I am grateful for it and I enjoy it.
    So far it’s mostly fun, but I am told that getting old ain’t for sissies. God bless you all. I am going to take the dog on a trip to the coast of Maine for some photography.
    Remember – It’s only a game

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