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Five things we learned: Notre Dame vs. Pitt

Nov 14, 2009, 11:32 PM EDT

It’d be so much easier if things were cut and dry. But once again, Notre Dame loses, and it doesn’t even begin to tell the story. For much of the game, the Irish were shut down offensively, failing to get into the red zone for the entire first half while the defense held it’s own against the potent combination of Pitt’s running and passing attack.

Yet as the script always does, the Irish mounted a furious comeback, thanks to the electric play of Golden Tate, and after Tate’s punt return for a touchdown, the Irish found themselves attempting a two-point conversion to make it a field goal game. Yet Jimmy Clausen’s shovel pass dropped between backup tight end Mike Ragone’s hands, and the Irish never got any closer.

Still that doesn’t tell us everything, as the Irish had another chance to march down the field and win the game. With Pitt down two key cornerbacks, the Irish had a chance to mount another rally until a chop-block penalty was called on Dan Wenger, dropping the Irish back from a 2nd and 1 at the 42 to a 2nd and 16 back at the 27. On the very next play, Clausen was flushed from the pocket, and hit just as he threw the ball, the ball squirting forward and putting the Irish in a 4th and ballgame situation. The Irish called timeout to get a play set, the Big East replay officials called downstairs to take one more look at the play.

We’ll never know what would’ve happened on that 4th and long for the Irish. The Pitt pass rush ate Paul Duncan and the Irish offensive line alive all evening and maybe the Irish wouldn’t have had a chance to throw down field. But Golden Tate and Michael Floyd were going against a beat-up secondary, and at the very least the Irish — and their embattled head coach — deserved a shot. Yet a replay official who couldn’t overturn a controversial completion to Jonathan Baldwin a few series earlier could somehow determine that Clausen’s pass was a fumble and the inadvertent whistles once again didn’t kill a play before Pitt recovered?


In the end, there will be more questions than answers. If this is it for Charlie Weis, he certainly deserved better. Better than being on the short end of nearly every replay review short of one against Washington, and better than knuckle-headed mistakes his players made while they played frantically for their coach.

Here’s five things we learned tonight:

1) Pitt’s pass rush killed the Irish.

If Notre Dame fans hear the name Greg Romeus again they might get sick to their stomachs. Romeus, Gus Mustakas, Jabaal Sheard and Mick Williams controlled the line of scrimmage when the Irish tried to throw the ball, taking away the deep threat and letting Pitt’s defensive backs jump the short throws. Even when Weis tried to slow down the pressure with screen passes, the Pittsburgh defense was game, snuffing out every attempt for a loss of yardage with great pursuit by the linebacking corps. Ditto the Wildcat formation. The Notre Dame running game was surprisingly effective with Armando Allen gaining 5.5 yards per carry, yet to get back into the game, the Irish needed to lean on their passing attack, and without any time to throw the ball, Jimmy Clausen just couldn’t get it done.

2) Notre Dame’s kicking game killed them

Just when the Irish finally get a big play out of their special teams, they have a game like Pittsburgh, where kicking and punting factored largely in the outcome. I’m sure Eric Maust is a good person, but he was terrible punter on Saturday night, kicking 5 times for an average of 24.8 yards. When he wasn’t punting short ineffective kicks, he was dropping the snap and shanking punts out of bounds when he should’ve been pinning the Pitt offense deep. Much of the first half the Irish offense was shut down because they had to start deep in their own territory. On the flip side, David Ruffer filled in for freshman kicker Nick Tausch, who was a surprising scratch from the lineup, and while Ruffer made his only field goal and did well on kickoffs, his low extra point attempt was blocked, putting the Irish in another hole. (To be fair, Trevor Robinson got run over…) Either way, the Irish have now committed two scholarships to punters, two to kickers, and even another one to a long snapper, all to try and get the Irish special teams to average. Even with Tate’s punt return for a touchdown, it was clear that Notre Dame could never flip the field on a change of possession, and Maust’s short punts put Notre Dame at a real disadvantage.

3) Irish defense just can’t force turnovers.

During this two game losing streak, the Notre Dame defense has failed to force a single turnover. In their four losses, the Irish have only managed two turnovers — an interception of two freshman quarterbacks, Tate Forcier and Matt Barkley, who both seemed to manage pretty decent games despite the gaffs. It’s become so evident that the Irish defense is deficient that the offense knows it, and it’s permeating the entire gameplan for Notre Dame. While Weis can say that he likes his offensive’s chances with the defense holding a team in the 20s, what he isn’t mentioning is that most teams depend on a big play or two from the defense to help score some points. The lack of pass rush out of the front four against Pitt forced the Irish to gamble with blitzing linebackers and once again Jon Tenuta’s scheme rolled snake eyes, giving up big plays to Jonathan Baldwin and Dion Lewis that ultimately sank the Irish’s chances.

4) Way too many games are turning subjective.

Remember when people used to say, “Let’s settle it on the field?” Not anymore. Too often the replay booth is getting in the way of the ebb and flow of the game, stopping to look at a trivial replay to confirm a play when a referee was within feet of the action. I’m all for getting things right, but when you’ve got the game starting and stopping to review plays that aren’t even close, the replay officials are getting in the way of a the football game. Even more baffling is the decision to overturn a call. Whether it’s Friday night’s game in Cincinnati or the final offensive play for the Irish, there is just way too much subjectivity getting in the way of football. When you slow a person’s movements down to a single frame per second it warps your sense of what really happened.

Jimmy Clausen’s fumble/incompletion at the end of the game is a proof that replay officials have forgotten what the word inconclusive means. There’s no way you can overturn Clausen’s fumble if you understand what indisputable means. And if Clausen’s fumble is the line of demarcation, then Jonathan Baldwin’s controversial catch with under seven
minutes left in the game should’ve been brought back. The NCAA has to do something this offseason about it’s replay system, and putting the onus on coaches to call challenges instead of allowing partisan officiating crews to dictate what play gets looked at is the best solution. Football may be a game of inches and the officials may be doing the best job they can, but it’s getting to the point where even logical fans start questioning the integrity of officiating crews.

5) Notre Dame’s nightmare scenario is upon us.

Once again, Charlie Weis and the Irish are in a position where they’ve given up their ability to control their own destiny. A win at Pitt would’ve silenced a very vocal minority that is hellbent on change. Now there’s another week of questions, another week of speculation, and another week where people will look for word out of Notre Dame’s athletic department regarding the head coaching situation. As I said earlier, it’s too bad that things aren’t black and white, because it’d be a much easier decision. There’s no doubt in my mind that the whispers from last week weighed on the Irish players and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll effect them again as they prepare for UConn. Now it’s up to Weis to prepare his team for another tough game, or for Jack Swarbrick to tell him he doesn’t need to do it anymore.

237 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Joe - Nov 17, 2009 at 11:55 AM

    Defining Moment?? Warmed over liberalism from the Great Society. Defining, I don’t think so friend. See it’s folks like yourself that are the real bigots in our society. You’re fixated with race. I don’t like the Community Organizer because of his outlook, polices and quite frankly his lack of ability. You appear to support him simply because of his race. It certainly can’t be because he supports abortion – you stated in your note you’re a Catholic.
    No, I’m afraid its pass the ammunition and Go UConn!

  2. Art Vandelay - Nov 17, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    @Old Alum: Thanks for the reality check and very well said. You are a fine example of what that great school and its tradition have offered the world. We all sometimes lose sight of what college athletics are really all about. Thanks for providing some guidance back to the path.

  3. StephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 1:56 PM

    Art: I haven’t seen the Curb episode you referenced. I will look for it online. The Michael Richards comedy club meltdown was bizarre and disheartening to me. I loved the Seinfeld sitcom almost as much as I love my Trojans. And now I can’t watch Kramer without thinking of impaling him on a pitchfork.
    I will stand corrected on the all-Coliseum-games-are-sellouts thing, for purposes of argument. But I submit that we DO sell out the games. We just don’t get 100% of ticket-buyers to ATTEND. This IS Los Angeles, after all. The city that cannot get a pro football team. People find other things to do when it’s always 84 degrees, especially if you’re playing freaking Washington State.
    By the way, have YOU considered that the reason there’s such intense interest in ND games is because most people root against the Irish? For every Irish fan, I think there are 3 or 4 people who get sublime joy out of seeing them lose. Schadenfreude in action. Of course, you won’t take my word for it on the ratio; I’m not exactly objective. But I AM one of the few Trojan fans (let alone alums) who respects anything at ALL about ND. You people seem to think you’re the only school that has classrooms and requires students to take tests, for crying out loud. But I digress.
    Oh, and let’s not worry about whether I keep HelenOfTroy chained up. D/S lifestyles lose a lot of the intrigue if you chain-and-tell. Enjoy your day. I’ll be back hassling you when I get back from my settlement conference.

  4. St ephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    Avon Domer: You make some good points about ND, but you’re wrong about me. I’m not here to rub your noses in anything. If that was the case I wouldn’t offer constructive criticism or compliment the people who (like yourself) make cogent points. If you looked at my comments objectively, both on this thread and on the other Keith Arnold threads, you’ll see that I give credit where it’s due, I pay homage to the Irish’s indisputably exemplary history, and I affirm my affection for Lou Holtz.
    That I may delight in pointing out the obvious inconsistency displayed in keeping one subpar coach while firing two other subpar coaches is another matter. I cannot help being a devil’s advocate, especially where I detect intentional unfairness. I won’t say discrimination, because the same thing that happened to Willingham happened to Davie, and nearly the same thing happened to Holtz. But those three coaches DID get the shaft, and I genuinely want the ND President, AD, and powers-that-be to tell all of us WHY. When you fire Weis and bring back Lou, I’ll go back to remodeling my mother’s basement. Until then, you’re stuck pretending that my points are not well-taken.

  5. Avon Domer - Nov 17, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    SOT: Why is it that all other universities in the U.S. may dismiss football coaches and the University of Notre Dame can not?
    Has USC ever dismissed a head coach, be it Ted Tollner, Larry Smith, etc. Just curious.
    I already explained some of the reasons why TW was dismissed, and Bob Davie had five years and didn’t come close to making the Irish relevant. CW is finishing up his five years and he’ll be gone because Notre Dame football is still not a factor on the national scene in regards to success on the gridiron. Please answer me this: How long would USC wait to change coaches if it were faced with a team performing similarly to ND under Weis and Davie?
    BTW: Do you think it’s any kind of a mystery why Ty is on the golf course counting his enormous buyouts from ND and U-Dub and not in coaching? Why do you think Bob Davie is a talking head on college football telecasts and not on the sideline leading a major university’s football program?
    SOT: In all sincerity, I’m very happy to be wrong about you.

  6. mike ford - Nov 17, 2009 at 8:19 PM

    WOW, good for you throwing around the word ‘BIGOT’ like you did, hmmmm,!! How could you even try to understand my political viewpoint by merely what I posted in one paragraph? Though here I am defending myself under circumstances that appear to be a little beyond you and your ideal stereotype… MY BAD and i will not entertain anymore political topics!!! GO IRISH!!

  7. StephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    Avon Domer: You asked at least 4 questions.
    First, of course ND can dismiss coaches. It just cannot expect that its dismissals will escape scrutiny and discussion. The reason is two-fold.
    First, ND holds itself out as (and its fans/alumni live, breathe, and practically chant) being a cut above the so-called “football factories” where everything comes down to W’s and L’s. If coaching at ND is about something more than W’s and L’s, then when you fire a coach, it’s going to receive attention. And not just because you’re on national tv every week. But it’s not about something more than W’s and L’s; both ND and Weis have as much as said so. ND said Willingham did everything right from Sun – Fri but didn’t win enough on Sat. Weis said 9-3 isn’t good enough. Oh? Then why is Weis still there? 9-3 would be a blessed event compared to 3-9 or 7-5 (6-6?) wouldn’t it?
    Second, ND violated its own long-established precedent by firing Willingham before his initial contract expired. When you have a precedent and you violate it, people are going to talk about why. Particularly when, as with Willingham, your coach is universally acknowledged as being a class act, a decent man, a humble guy who upholds all the highest standards you want as an institution. It makes you look like hypocrites at best, and as racists at worst.
    You next asked, facetiously, if USC has ever fired a coach. God knows we have. We brought in John Robinson, won with him, and fired him when he stopped winning. We hired him back when he promised a “return to glory,” and we fired him again when his promise wasn’t kept. USC is not a “football factory,” but we don’t hold our noses in the air, either. We expect our football teams to beat ND, beat the snot out of UCLA, and win all the winnable games on the schedule. Fail to do that, and you’re out. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.
    Third, you asked how long USC would wait if faced with a situation like Davie/Weis. That’s a tough one, because of all the moving parts. Weis came down from the pro football heavens, promising to resurrect the program. He inherited Brady Quinn, he got a boatload of money, he had the full-throated backing of the administration, he has a great stadium and glowing facilities, and he recruited five-star and four-star talent (thank you, NBC, for televising every game!) Yet he did not resurrect the program. In fact he humiliated it. 3-9. Not EVER beating the rival. Not EVER beating a top 10 team. Not EVER beating a team that finished with fewer than 4 losses. If I tried to think of a similar scenario for USC, it would have to be something like if Ronnie Lott came in to coach, got handed everything he asked for, got paid much more than anyone dreamed, but got blown out by ND and lost all 5 times he played them, lost 5 times to UCLA, and lost twice to Washington State at home (we don’t play a service academy). But he’d never get a chance to go 0-5 against anyone. He’d be gone by the end of the third year, maximum. I don’t see how he’d last more than two years, to tell you the truth. We don’t have that precedent I referred to earlier of allowing a coach to fulfill his initial contract, and we’re not high-and-mighty about what the football coach’s job is. (But we DO graduate our players — many of them get drafted into the NFL as juniors and come back to finish their degree; we have many more players drafted into the NFL [EIGHT from last year’s defense alone] than ND does, so the comparison is tough. And we DO prepare them for adult life. USC is a great academic institution. It is highly ranked and has the cream of the crop in terms of SAT scores, National Merit Scholars coming in, Rhodes Scholars coming out, etc.)
    Fourth, you asked about Willingham and Davie not coaching. I don’t think the reasons are complex. No one wanted Davie, and Willingham is sensitive; he’s licking his wounds.
    Davie was promoted from a defensive coordinator position; that one rarely becomes a head coach without SUPERLATIVE results at the coordinator level. Davie doesn’t have the “it” factor. He’s an ND guy, for sure. You can’t get 5 minutes of his broadcast of an SC game without hearing him say “Bush Push.” Churlish or devoted to ND; where you stand depends on where you sit.
    Willingham did well at Stanford. Well enough to get hired by ND. He thought he’d made it. Then the rug got pulled out from under him. He tried to land on his feet at UW. The facilities, talent, and mind-set at UW were NOWHERE close to what he had at ND or even Stanford (even before they built their new stadium). And his team got victimized by some HORRIBLE calls. In the first game of his 0-12 season, the ridiculously bogus celebration call against Jake Lockyer on what should have been the go-ahead touchdown, resulting instead in a missed extra point and the ultimate loss of the game, really stuck with that team all year. My best friend is a UW alum, and he confirms my opinion on this.
    And I don’t think Willingham ever really let go of the hurt feelings and disappointment he felt about how ND treated him. He’s a sensitive, quiet guy. I know the type well. I don’t think he wants to coach anymore. More of a “well if that’s how you’re going to treat me, I’ll take my ball and go home” type. And although I’m not that way, I can understand where he’s coming from. He’s not likely to get another chance at a COMPARABLE program right away. Lou Holtz swallowed hard and took a lesser job when ND stuck it to him. Willingham TRIED to do the same, and didn’t succeed. I don’t think he’s willing to go the equivalent distance below UW to try again. Not until his money runs out, anyhow.
    Anyway, Avon, those are my (typically long-winded) views, since you asked in a spirit of good faith. Best of luck to the Irish against UConn, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Clausen and Tate abuse the Cardinal defense, between you and me. Cheers.

  8. Avon Domer - Nov 18, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    SOT: The University of Notre Dame is far from being a perfect institution, and anyone who is close to it will tell you that. What the University of Notre Dame is all about is striving for excellence in everything it does, and sometimes it falls short of its goals and expectations, just like all man-made institutions. Football is a very important part of what has made Notre Dame what it is, and through the years the school has taken turns emphasizing and deemphazing the importance of the sport on campus. For instance, it’s commonly believed that Frank Leahy resigned due to health reasons as head coach after his wildly successful stint in that position. I’ve heard from numerous sources that he was actually fired because the football program was overshadowing everything else about the university. Here’s another example of Notre Dame going back and forth on the importance of football: Following the disastrous reign of Gerry Faust, Lou Holtz was brought in to lead the program, and lo and behold two Prop 48 kids that were instrumental to ND winning the 1988 national title were admitted. Those two young men were Tony Rice and Chris Zorich. They both graduated from ND and Zorich returned to get his law degree from ND after a stint with the Bears. Unfortunately for Holtz, members of the Board and a group of alums found out about Prop 48s getting in and the practice rightfully disappeared in a hurry, and that made me very happy. I didn’t fall in love with the University solely because it used to win in football. For me football brought me there, but the far bigger attraction has always been my being a Catholic, the beauty of the campus and the university’s committment to be great at everything it does, and that includes DEMANDING that its student-athletes work hard to earn a precious Notre Dame degree and behave like responsible adults. When I heard about the Prop 48 thing I thought my head would explode. Thank God it was done away with in a big hurry. I know you’ll never believe this, but I would forever rather be mediocre at football as the real Notre Dame than be great on the gridiron with lower standards.
    Notre Dame wants to win at football and it makes no apologies for that. In regards to the five-year plan for coaches, show me where Notre Dame ever bragged about that or etched it in stone somewhere on campus. I’ve been there hundereds of times, and I’ll be there Saturday. I’ll look for it and will let you know if I find it. Notre Dame honored its contract with Willingham by paying him off after his third year review that HE wanted in his contract. Notre Dame gave him a wonderful opportunity and owes him absolutely nothing.
    ND treated Willingham the way he should’ve been treated. Like I said earlier, he spent a lot of time during recruiting periods on the beautiful Notre Dame Warren Golf Course, and along with that, I never saw him coach anybody. Whenever there were time outs you would see a gaggle of ND assistant coaches talking with the quarterback or middle linebacker while TW was always 30 yards away with his arms folded staring at something. Seriously, doesn’t Notre Dame, or any school for that matter, deserve a better effort than that? TW is a gentlemen and a fine man, however he is incompetent as a head football coach. Oh yeah…and ND paid him enough $$$ in his buyout that your family and mine could retire for the next five generations. If that’s getting treated badly, sign me up!
    I’ll be there Saturday for the UCONN game with a very heavy heart. CW is on the verge of being fired and it’ll be the right thing to do and that saddens me greatly. Weis has given his all in his effort to return ND to prominence and it hasn’t worked out. He is a Notre Dame grad who loves the university as much as anybody, and I’ve learned through friends I have who know him well that he is beyond devastated. I would dearly love to see the team rally behind him and give him a win in his last game at Notre Dame Stadium. My fear is that the team’s psyche is shot and it won’t happen. The only thing I know for sure is it will make for an interesting and dramatic Saturday afternoon under the Golden Dome.

  9. StephenOfTroy - Nov 18, 2009 at 2:42 PM

    Avon: First off, thanks the time and effort you spent writing all that. I enjoyed reading it.
    I have no trouble believing you’d rather have a mediocre but “real” (whatever that means to you) ND than an inauthentic ND with a better football record.
    I’m curious what you find so off-putting about Prop 48. You’re obviously entitled to your own opinion, as is everyone. I just don’t see what’s so atrocious. Maybe I don’t understand it as well as you do. But I’ve always thought college is a huge difference-maker in young people’s lives, and those without access to a good college education are handicapped for life. A great college (doesn’t have to be ND or USC, just any school in the top, say, 50) that reaches down into obscurity to help someone who otherwise wouldn’t get there is doing a valuable service, in my view. Particularly where, as with Zorich, the kid who gets the helping hand ends up exceeding everyone’s expectations. It’s like taking any other risk; some will pan out and some don’t. Some might argue that giving scholarships to players who don’t play is a waste. But you don’t know ahead of time who will shine and who will crack under pressure.
    Anyway, I’d be interested to read your views re the abomination inherent in Prop 48.
    And as to Ty being aloof on the sidelines, I cannot speculate as to what that meant. Assuming arguendo that you’re correct and he wasn’t talking with the other coaches, I would give any head coach on the sidelines the benefit of the doubt. I assume he’s thinking deeply about the game. He’s got the headset on. You don’t want to micromanage. That said, I think there are certainly times when the head coach needs to get into a player’s face and immediately correct a mistake or boost a downcast player’s spirits to “keep his head in the game.” Holtz yanking a lineman’s face mask while lecturing him comes affectionately to mind.
    I didn’t know about him golfing during recruiting time. I defer on this point and several others to your greater knowledge. All I know is that it doesn’t look to me like ND kept up its end of the bargain. He may have wanted a “review” but that means salary and benefits, conditions of employment, etc., not firing! Particularly when you let the next guy get a big contract extension and keep him more than 3 years without having any better results. Still, you know what I think and I know what you think on this point by now.
    What do you think the coaches most often mentioned about being next for the Irish job are thinking now? My sense is that several of them are looking at what a crapshoot it would be to come to ND, and they don’t want to risk the security they have established at their present position by coming to ND and getting fired because of unrealistic expectations. Gruden re-upped with ESPN. I think Harbaugh will do the same at Stanford. Not as sure about Kelly but I think he’ll do the same at Cincy. Your thoughts?
    GO IRISH and Fight on, Trojans! (I know it makes some people’s heads explode when I write that…)

  10. StephenofTroy - Nov 18, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    Oh, and Avon: Don’t waste your time looking for an etched-in-stone pronouncement on campus re: 5 year plan. I never said any such thing. The precedent of allowing a coach to finish his initial contract is an action, not a proclamation. Actions speak louder than words. And it IS a precedent. The chattering class is entitled to note the conspicuous variance from it and, well, chatter about it. Have fun on Saturday. I think the Irish will beat UConn. I say that in part because I don’t respect UConn’s talent, but mostly because I don’t think the kids want Weis to go out losing in his final home game, and the seniors don’t want to go out like the last senior class and lose at home, either. Good luck!

  11. Avon Domer - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:50 PM

    SOT: I don’t have any problem at all with kids who garner the Prop 48 distinction. I think it’s a great idea for a lot of schools and many young people that have had the precious opportunity to earn a college degree because of Prop 48. It just had no business EVER being in effect at Notre Dame. The reason I say that is ND is a very demanding academic institution that for many years has been ranked between 18th & 20th in the nation by U.S. World & News Report. The requirements for admission are difficult to meet and only about one in five qualified applicants are accepted to each freshman class. The competition to be admitted to ND is fierce, and in recent years only Harvard, Yale and Princeton have graduated a higher percentage of their student population. While I’m told the requirements are relaxed to a certain extent in regards to the football team, I have no idea by how much. Regardless, the university admissions staff has to be convinced that student-athletes can and will graduate or they will not be allowed in. I don’t know if it’s still this way or not, but I heard back in the day that if the admissions office had any reason at all to beleive that an athlete cannot pass freshman calculus, they have no chance of getting in. Believe me, academic demands have cost ND a whole lot of footbal talent though the years, and this is why the Board and many others in the Notre Dame Family were outraged that Prop 48 kids were admitted to play football. That absolutely stepped over the boundaries of what is acceptable at Notre Dame and hopefully it won’t happen again.
    I know this sounds arrogant to some people and I apologize for that, but that’s the way it is at ND, and my hunch is it’s the same way at other institutuions of higher learning. Oh, and for the record, I am not a Notre Dame graduate. I am half-Irish, 100% Catholic and was raised 40 miles from ND. I am a proud graduate of a public university in Indiana, and I have revered and been in love with the University of Notre Dame for more than 45 years. The only way possible my loyalty could be lessened is if Notre Dame ever went away from what made it great. It is my fervent wish that ND retains its high academic principles, graduates everybody and always gives those of us who love it something to look up to and admire. As long as Notre Dame remains true to itself it doesn’t matter a damn whether the football team wins its next 1,000 games or loses them all, and I totally understand how people would scoff at that, but for many of us it’s true. Holtz once said that the Notre Dame spirit is something that if you feel it you can’t explain it, and if you don’t feel it you could be explained to you. I and millions across the world, many of whom have never once set foot on campus, know what he’s talking about and we wouldn’t trade how we feel about ND for anything!
    In regards as to who our next coach will be, I really have no idea what’ll happen. My hope is for a successful COLLEGE coach who understands and appreciates the uniqueness of Notre Dame. You have to “get” Notre Dame to properly sell it to recruits, and Davie and Willingham never came close to mastering that. Holtz didn’t go to school at ND, and neither did Parseghian or Devine, but they understood what the school is about and what it represents to people all over the world. I hope our next coach meets that most basic of requirements to take on this enormous responsibility.
    All the best, and FIGHT ON!

  12. oldalum - Nov 18, 2009 at 6:50 PM

    To interject into the intelligent and meaningful conversation between AvonDomer and StephenofTroy, I am an ND grad and I have a little (very little) insight into the admissions process.
    It is my understanding that atheletes are put through the same admissions process as any other student and that the atheletic department has no input into that process.
    Of course there are no absolutes about who does or does not get admitted. Last year’s freshman class had SAT scores that averaged over 700 (for each portion of the exam) and half the incoming class were in the top 5% of their high school graduating class. As always the objective of the admissions process is to bring in a class with the best talent, ability, and to make sure the student body reflects diversity in geography, race, nationality, religion, etc. I’m expect that there are target quotas for each of those things but I sure don’t know what they are. One piece of datum that I do know is that there is a target of 25% legacy in each incoming class and that is accuratly reflected each year.
    So just as someone who is a fine musician or actor would gain some advantage from that, so would someone who is a fine athelete but to repeat, the atheletic department, the coaches, the AD have no input into the admission process at ND. I know that to be true. And that’s the way it should be.
    I am in complete agreement with AvonDomer’s comments about Ara and Lou understanding what ND is all about while Davie and Willingham never did. Weis certainly does. BTW I don’t think that Devine understood either. I have some personal inside information on that topic but it’s irrelevant in this conversation.

  13. Avon Domer - Nov 19, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    oldalum: Thanks so much for your contributions to our discussion. I’m with you 100% in applauding ND for seeing to it that the athletic department has zero say in the admissions process. that would be the tail wagging the dog, and that should never happen at ND. In regards to whether or not Dan Devine totally understood what ND was about, my hunch is he didn’t “get it” quite like Ara and Lou did, but he certainly adapted to it enough to win a national title and field many good teams at ND. I think his biggest fault in the eyes of the Notre Dame faithful was that he wasn’t Ara, who was wildly successful, handsome, dynamic and was loaded with charisma. Aside from Rockne, Ara was the ideal model for a Notre Dame head coach and was a heckuva tough act to follow. I always thought Devine deserved better than he got from Notre Dame fans and followers. Thanks again for joining the conversation! GO IRISH!

  14. StephenOfTroy - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:04 PM

    Avon: Thanks for elucidating what you meant about Prop 48. I understand what your point was now. Reasonable minds can differ, but when you understand each other’s point of view, you can continue to have productive discussions.
    So thanks for writing all of that. Except for the part about freshman calculus. Coming into USC, I thought I was well prepared for an advanced calculus class, having taken an AP calc class in high school. Boy was I wrong! There went any dreams of being StephenTheScientist. Hello, English major, hello law school! Wsy to bring my demons back from the dead, buddy…
    Oh, and I second your thanks to oldalum for contributing the detailed information. Much appreciated. Fight IRISH! I mean, GO on! I mean, well, you know what I mean.

  15. Avon Domer - Nov 20, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    SOT: Loved your last post! Your a class act, and congrats on your law degree!
    BTW: I thought Harbaugh going for two against you guys late in last week’s game was beneath contempt. I know you guys will make him pay, and he’s got it coming to him. I’m very disappointed in JH. I thought he was above they type of crap. I’ll always respect Pete (whom I met after the 2005 ND/USC game) for not running it up on the Irish like he could’ve the last two years. Good luck the rest of the season and FIGHT ON!

  16. teo - Nov 20, 2009 at 3:58 PM

    This is a pretty interesting discussion, SOT, AD= and Oldalum. I thought I would throw in a comment or two:
    1.) These head coaching selections are just too fresh. I am still getting over George O’Leary.
    2.) I enjoyed SOT’s comment’s re: SC’s program. No way would SC tolerate a coach that didn’t beat a top ten team in 5 years. No way. I know we are concerned about the Irish program and continuing the legitimacy of the academics and the like, but we had a big-time football program at one point. Sure, we’ve been close in some games, but we need to win games. CW’s had a fairly light schedule, by historical standards, and still hasn’t beaten a top ten program. That LSU game a few years ago was painful. SC has been painful in nearly every year. I’m there. We need a better coach.
    3.) I have been a staunch Weis defender, but I think a proven college coach — someone like Kelly or Meyer or Stoops or Kirk whats-his-name at Iowa — would be great.
    4.) Finally, this is not a personal thing. Charlie has given Notre Dame everything in these last five years. Yet, he hasn’t cracked the code. He hasn’t figured out how to win big games — and he has lost quite a few games against historically inferior programs. Let’s move ahead and get some great coach to come to South Bend. Certainly, given that NBC televises every home game, the cash should be there.

  17. Avon Domer - Nov 20, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    Teo: Welcome to the conversation!
    I really do not believe $$$ will be an issue for Notre Dame in hiring a football coach. We’ve already seen where Swarbrick said a buyout for CW will not be an issue at all, and that’s a great sign. I agree with you totally about Charlie giving his all. He truly has done all he could do, and he dearly loves Notre Dame. That’s why I find no joy in this situation at all. When Davie and Ty got the gate, I felt differently. CW is a Domer and that makes this far more disappointing for me. I truly hope that the South Bend faithful treat CW and his family respectfully for as long as they’re there
    In regards to our next coach, I agree that a successful COLLEGE coach is the way to go. I hope Mr. Swarbrick has already contacted the first two or three choices on his list, and that they are college coaches. We’ll see!

  18. JLD - Nov 20, 2009 at 10:14 PM

    I don’t believe robertg is G. Bob. If he is, then he has lost it. I had him for Fed Crim in the 80’s. He was sharp and not delusional like robertg. Robertg sounds more like a paranoid meth using, conspiracy theory, black helicopter, Area 51 guy.

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