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Irish need to win with style

Nov 14, 2009, 4:00 PM EST

Having never met Jack Swarbrick and having no idea how the man thinks, I can only assume that he’s a smart guy with a better grasp on Notre Dame football than just about every person out there. There is no one who knows Charlie Weis better, no one who can judge the work of the coaching staff better, and nobody that knows the exact criteria by which the Notre Dame head coach is judged.

Saying all that, last night everybody got a very clear look at the other man that’s burrowing a place into the hearts of Notre Dame’s fan base. Brian Kelly and Cincinnati got the job done with a win, but they certainly didn’t start any hearts a flutter. Sure Kelly has done unprecedented things with the Bearcats, but he’s running an offense that very closely resembles that of Rich Rodriguez’s, and ask Michigan fans how much they’re liking that transition. Or more appropriately, ask Nebraska fans how firing a 9-3 Frank Solich went? Think they enjoy being in the decade long rebuild they’re still stuck in, because they were worried college football might have been passing them by. Since then, they’ve found themselves in the Alamo, Cotton, and Gator Bowl, all because 9-3 just wasn’t good enough.

But still, I’m not comfortable talking about what might be. What Notre Dame has is Charlie Weis and the premiere pro-style offense in college football. The reason Weis and the Irish are able to reel in the blue-chip offensive prospects is Charlie Weis. He’s far from perfect as a head coach and Irish fans and foes have gone to great lengths to prove this, but as Weis is apt to say, the arrow is still pointing in the right direction.

For Weis and the Irish, tonight is all about opportunity. In Pittsburgh, the Irish have the opportunity to play a top ten team that isn’t USC, that isn’t in a BCS game, and that in many ways is an inferior team to the Irish. They’ll have all eyes on them, watching to see if the Irish are the team that Weis thinks they’re very close to being, or if they’re the team that many detractors think should spell the end of the Charlie Weis era. 

A win is mandatory tonight for Notre Dame. And for many, a win won’t be good enough, but winning with style, something Weis and the Irish have struggled to do because of a maddening lack of defense, would do plenty to get the Irish back to a stable place.

After a long week of speculation, it’ll be good to finally get to see an actual football game, and let Weis and the Irish decide what to do with the Notre Dame football program.

  1. TLNDMA - Nov 14, 2009 at 5:01 PM

    Keith a couple of comments. Brian Kelly’s offense looks a little different with his 2nd Qb, much more read option and such, with Tony Pike 1st Qb til he got hurt it was much more conventional. And he hasn’t lost with either. As for tonight’s game, if your an ND fan, a win should be good enough, at least for now. If those of us with my POV are proven wrong by Charlie Weis in the next few weeks and years, sign me up, I’m all in. Go Irish!

  2. IndianaJoe - Nov 14, 2009 at 6:07 PM

    I guess you are trying to say, let’s wait and see what happens tonight. My question is how many “tonight of frustration” do we have to watch before the media and the AD began to realize that this is not fair to the kids playing the game. Watch these guys. They play hard, but you can see the frustration. Look at Clausen’s run last weekend. I doubt the JC would have taken that kind of a hit, given his aspirations of going pro and knowing that his back-up was out for the year if he weren’t frustrated. The play calling in the red zone is predictable with few plays.
    I have been an Irish fan for 50 years and always will be, but the coaches hired by ND since Holtz was here are sad, and none worse than Weis. It’s time to call a spade a spade.

  3. Jan - Nov 14, 2009 at 6:33 PM

    Couple more comments, Keith:
    SOME (so called) Irish fans and (probably ALL) foes have gone to great lengths to prove, assert, publicize, whatever that Charlie is far from perfect as a head coach. In my humble opinion, most detractors advance their position for a hidden agenda far from supportive of ND. Thankfully, the most important assessment of Charlie and the program will come from Jack Swarbrick, Fr. Jenkins, and the people that have the most influence on their decisions.
    I’ll be delighted with a win tonight – with or without style. My faint recollection is that the “style” argument was the whining and criticism leveled at Ara many years ago; and lead to what consider a premature departure. I invite all to review photos of Ara before and after his tenure at ND. The man aged far more than the years he devoted to ND. I’d offer the same argument for Leahy, Holtz, and even Devine. Let’s learn from history, Irish fans.
    I’m not advocating carte blanche support for Charlie, no matter what. But I do advocate an appreciation for what we have after what I believe were apparent knee jerk decisions that lead to the Davie and Willingham years.
    Lastly, I’m not interested in the big $$$ or long contract argument and/or complaints that I anticipate some may raise in response to this comment. I trust the Administration and AD to make those decisions and with establishing appropriate goals for Charlie and the football program. If you disagree, take the argument up with them directly. If you think you personally can do better, submit your credentials for their review. If you’re selected, I’ll support you in like manner that I advocate for fan support of our currect program.
    Go Irish, be nasty, hit ass!!!

  4. Jan - Nov 14, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    Couple more comments, Keith:
    SOME (so called) Irish fans and (probably ALL) foes have gone to great lengths to prove, assert, publicize, whatever that Charlie is far from perfect as a head coach. In my humble opinion, most detractors advance their position for a hidden agenda far from supportive of ND. Thankfully, the most important assessment of Charlie and the program will come from Jack Swarbrick, Fr. Jenkins, and the people that have the most influence on their decisions.
    I’ll be delighted with a win tonight – with or without style. My faint recollection is that the “style” argument was the whining and criticism leveled at Ara many years ago; and lead to what consider a premature departure. I invite all to review photos of Ara before and after his tenure at ND. The man aged far more than the years he devoted to ND. I’d offer the same argument for Leahy, Holtz, and even Devine. Let’s learn from history, Irish fans.
    I’m not advocating carte blanche support for Charlie, no matter what. But I do advocate an appreciation for what we have after what I believe were apparent knee jerk decisions that lead to the Davie and Willingham years.
    Lastly, I’m not interested in the big $$$ or long contract argument and/or complaints that I anticipate some may raise in response to this comment. I trust the Administration and AD to make those decisions and with establishing appropriate goals for Charlie and the football program. If you disagree, take the argument up with them directly. If you think you personally can do better, submit your credentials for their review. If you’re selected, I’ll support you in like manner that I advocate for fan support of our currect program.
    Go Irish, be nasty, hit ass!!!

  5. Jan - Nov 14, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    Couple more comments, Keith:
    SOME (so called) Irish fans and (probably ALL) foes have gone to great lengths to prove, assert, publicize, whatever that Charlie is far from perfect as a head coach. In my humble opinion, most detractors advance their position for a hidden agenda far from supportive of ND. Thankfully, the most important assessment of Charlie and the program will come from Jack Swarbrick, Fr. Jenkins, and the people that have the most influence on their decisions.
    I’ll be delighted with a win tonight – with or without style. My faint recollection is that the “style” argument was the whining and criticism leveled at Ara many years ago; and lead to what consider a premature departure. I invite all to review photos of Ara before and after his tenure at ND. The man aged far more than the years he devoted to ND. I’d offer the same argument for Leahy, Holtz, and even Devine. Let’s learn from history, Irish fans.
    I’m not advocating carte blanche support for Charlie, no matter what. But I do advocate an appreciation for what we have after what I believe were apparent knee jerk decisions that lead to the Davie and Willingham years.
    Lastly, I’m not interested in the big $$$ or long contract argument and/or complaints that I anticipate some may raise in response to this comment. I trust the Administration and AD to make those decisions and with establishing appropriate goals for Charlie and the football program. If you disagree, take the argument up with them directly. If you think you personally can do better, submit your credentials for their review. If you’re selected, I’ll support you in like manner that I advocate for fan support of our currect program.
    Go Irish, be nasty, hit ass!!!

  6. jan - Nov 14, 2009 at 6:41 PM

    ..correction to last comment – last two words should have been KICK ass…my typing stinks.
    Indiana Joe – I think Charlie has done much better with the program than either Davie or Willingham. Just one man’s opinion.

  7. mrrandolph - Nov 14, 2009 at 7:27 PM

    The do play hard. They play as hard as any team I have seen. The effort is great. With that being said, do they struggle because of lack of talent or lack of direction. I don’t know. I am not involved with the program everyday and don’t know what is going on in practice so I am not going to get torn up over who the coach is.
    I just want them to compete and play hard(nasty) and intelligent. If the effort is there so is my support.
    I once heard some coach on TV once say when being asked how the Bears can still have Rex Grossman be their QB since he was the worst in the league and the coach said you you don’t get it, the coaches see Rex in practice everyday and they know what he can do and what his potential is.
    I try just to root for whomever my team starts.

  8. mike - Nov 14, 2009 at 7:39 PM

    I m happy to hear that you have been an Irish fan for 50 years. I m only 22 so I haven’t been around as long as you however, just a few points i would like to make.
    1. When people say Charlie got out coached by Michigan for not running the ball and throwing it on 3rd and 2 was a bad call. I would just like to point out that we had been killing their secondary all game and let s not forget the SEVERAL dropped passes by golden, this was before the switch came on and he played like we all know he could
    2. In the USC game if USC did not play dirty and get a late hit on robbie parish he would have been running the route that duvall karmara fell down on… you know the one or better yet if Michael had not been injured he would have got it
    3. How can you blame charlie for losing to navy, he didn’t fumble either time, miss three easy field goals or take two sacks on the final drive to end in a safety. Why would Clausen just slide and get the first down.
    I would also like to point out that I drive 700 miles each way to go to one home game a year this will be my third. the two previous were to Navy and Syracuse and I still say that Charlie is the best coach for the job and would not want anyone else on the sideline for the next 10 YEARS!!!
    As for the crap about not having a signature win what about #3 Michigan at the big house in his first year? How does that not count? Also he got the monkey off our backs with bowl losing streak, michigan state, and boston college all this season how do you fire that??

  9. John - Nov 14, 2009 at 11:52 PM

    GOOD BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone ready for a change? How much better could 09 have been with a new coach and these kids? Awful just awful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Paul - Nov 15, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    If you discount ND’s 2 “blow out” wins, the other 8 games could have gone either way. Right now, they could have been 10-0 or 2-8 depending on the abitrary distribution of chance (luck). With 2 games remaining it is pointless to contribute to a “sideshow” that could further frustrate and demoralize the staff and players. Let the coach and team concentrate on their opponents on the field and complete “THEIR SEASON”(8-4 would be better than 6-6).

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