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How we got here: The path to 4-5

Nov 2, 2010, 2:12 PM EDT

With the Irish on bye week, there was no Tuesday Brian Kelly press conference, a likely relief for a coach supplying more questions than answers last weekend as the Irish found a way to lose to Tulsa 28-27, dropping their record to 4-5 on the year.

With no game to prep for this week, I thought we’d take a step back and look at how the Irish got to the place they’re at — a sub .500 record and needing two wins in the final three games to become bowl eligible, something that — for the third season in a row — looked all but a lock at midseason.

I’ll hopefully be bringing in a few different voices to contribute throughout the week, as I think a diverse set of viewpoints is needed during a season like this.

It’s not hard to point to a few obvious reasons why the Irish are 4-5 (turnovers, injuries, etc.), but hopefully we’ll uncover some not so obvious reasons as well.

Consider this a jumping off point to a Macro-week of blogging that’s sure to come.

  1. 9irish - Nov 2, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    They should be 7-2. Navy and Stanford just flat out beat them. So, toss one gag in there, 6-3. They just do not know how to finish the deal. It is unbelievable, just like last year. It is a virtual carbon copy.

    The ghost of Gerry Faust is lingering around there somewhere. All the talent in the world is nothing if not properly led and organized.

  2. coreykep - Nov 2, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    I should have been Brad Pitt. Seriously? People are calling Brian Kelly arrogant, maybe you are right? We should hire a humble Gerry Faust? Notre Dame is what it is because of 20 years of fans and alumni cursing every time something bad happens. When you say ND is no good or can’t win you believe it then you accept and live that truth. Your words govern you and determine your outcome. Don’t believe me? Declan Sullivan said before he died “I guess I have lived long enough.” The captain of the Titanic said “Not even GOD himself could sink this ship!”

    • c4evr - Nov 2, 2010 at 5:47 PM

      The only hope is to abandon the “This is Notre Dame” rhetoric and start building from the ground up. Which means die hard fans look elsewhere for a while – Irish hoops is off to a good start – and let the football team work out their problems out of the spotlight. BTW, the captain wasn’t the one who said that God couldn’t sink the Titanic – a ship’s captain would have to have Kelly-like arrogance to say that. The quote is from a White Star employee as it was being launched from Europe. Though I agree with your concept of speaking your reality into existence, positive affirmations at this point would only highlight the pathetic place that ND football holds at present. OK everybody, repeat after me: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me…”

    • txbeej - Nov 2, 2010 at 11:11 PM

      Thanks for that brief glimpse into madness.

    • 9irish - Nov 3, 2010 at 2:27 AM

      what the hell are you talking about? I live in Ohio State territory now, you have no idea about fan critique. Very bad analogies, by the way.

  3. grouchomarx4 - Nov 2, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    Terry Brennan, George O’Leary, Brian Kelly. Maybe “Home Rule” for the Irish isn’t a good idea.

  4. hotcarnut - Nov 2, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Why does everyone seem to be missing the obvious this season? Take a look at the roster: when a starter gets hurt, the next man up is often a freshman or sophomore. Where are the juniors and seniors?!?! Weis’ classes all had great “ratings” and “rankings” but if there was ever proof that player development was non-existent in the last regime we’re seeing it right here. I’m shocked and saddened at the way people have started to give up on the program 3/4 of the way through the season. Nobody with a shred of rationality really expected a BCS bowl this year, especially not with new systems on both sides of the ball and some serious holes on the 2 deep, especially on defense and at quarterback. Dayne Crist getting hurt certainly cost ND the Michigan game (anybody remember the end of the first half?), and the Michigan State loss was a heartbreaker. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at times that the players haven’t given up and have played hard until the end. That is a HUGE change from the Charlie Weis era where I felt like the team checked out far too often, especially with either a big lead or trailing big. Give the program and the coaching staff time. Develop a little bit of patience, and have faith in the track record of the people that were hired. Kelly’s career isn’t a fluke – he’s won everywhere he’s been – and he’s changing not only the offense and defense, but the psychological makeup of the team.

    • mjb621 - Nov 3, 2010 at 9:47 AM

      Here, Here! Excellent point. Patience is a virtue. SOmetimes a program has to hit bottom before it can right itself. I think Brian Kelly will get this ship heading in the right direction. People call Brain Kelly arrogant but actually it’s self-confidence beacaus he can back up what he says, just look at his body of work.

    • pjm79nd - Nov 3, 2010 at 10:40 AM

      Seems to me you are the one missing the obvious:

      -we still cannot run the ball, and our wonderfully talented offensive line cannot block. If you disagree, I suggest you review the conclusion of our first offensive series against Navy.
      -the coaches have done nothing but destroy their credibility with questionable playcalls and lack of preparation–failure to kick 1st-half FG vs. Michigan; failure to anticipate fake FG vs. MSU when the distance was 46 yds and the kicker was reputedely weak and inaccurate; failure to adapt to Stanford dropping eight into pass coverage; complete failure to stop Navy option attack; literally throwing away the opportunity to kick FG and defeat Tulsa (probably the stupidest playcall I have seen in watching 44 years of ND football).

      Nothing has changed. You blame Weis for these shortcomings just as others blamed Davie & Willingham for Weis’s failures.

      • ndfan4ever - Nov 3, 2010 at 11:41 AM

        This is right on the money. When you have chances to win you must win. When you are doing something new and different specially when your team is banged up you need to be smart and take points and win games. While I had no illusions of this team going undefeated specially with our defense. We should be 7 and 2. Navy and Stanford beat us the others we let slip away just like pjm79nd said. I am not calling for Kelly to be fired its to soon to make that judgement but he needs to make smarter decisions on the field. I can take a loss when we get beat but when the kids play hard and then the coach makes the wrong or stupid call it destroys any confidence the team has built up and pass that. That all I am saying.

  5. notredamegrad - Nov 2, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    Amen to that, hotcarnut. Patience and charity are definitely the best way forward.

    Go Irish. (And swift healing to all the injured players.)

  6. domjay - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    I just want to say that until ND proves it can beat quality teams and consistently play with the best in the country, please everyone lower your expectations. It just kills me when people expect this team to come out and beat everyone on the schedule just because they are ND and have the tradition and the heismans and all that jazz. Please it has been 17 years, yes 17 years since ND has has mattered on the national stage. Oh ya sure they have gone to BCS games during seasons where they beat nobody in the top 25 and lost to everyone who was and they got spanked, no not just spanked but humiliated in those BCS games. The first two years with Charlie Weis were not seasons to be proud of. It just irks me when people complain about oh how BK should have run the ball and kicked a field goal and oh he should stop yelling and oh he should not have gone for it 4th down at Mich St. Those are probably the same idiots who sit on their a**the whole game at ND stadium and don’t make a peep and have turned ND stadium into an opera house. Look BK took over a team that was not in the top 50 in the country last year. Give him 3 years and if he is still this bad then kick him to the curb, but please stop the whining for now.

    • 9irish - Nov 3, 2010 at 2:11 AM

      That is a pretty broad way of looking at it. I don’t think anyone is, in their right mind, wanting to fire Brian Kelly. Bottom line, if things are bad with injuries, accidents, etc, you don’t make crazy decisions instead of going for the percentage play to win the game. If you don’t like that criticism, go to Eastern Michigan. I think things will work out fine. I’m sure that he, as are we, is very frustrated. The most frustrating thing is that they are not anywhere near as bad as their record represents.

  7. leprechaun2114 - Nov 3, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    If you want to take your angst on Kelly perhaps you should look in the mirror first. If you are accusing Kelly of making bad decisions then what is all the armchair qaurterbacking? not much more than more suspect decision making … The pass call at the end of the 1st in the Michigan game was sound .. he had his 1st string quarterback out and did not know if he was coming back … Michigan had ND on the ropes and this was a chance to go in at half time only one score down and a big mental boost … a gamble yes but not a problem for me. The Michigan State game was a one play game … give credit to MS for a gutsy surprise. Beaten by Navy definitely shows holes and Tulsa with half the starting roster out is hardly time to bail on the program. Time will tell and Kelly at least deserves that much … time that is …

  8. bigirishfan - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    How we got there?

    Average players making stupid mental errors. Years of bad recruiting have left us with marginal talent.

    Average coaches making stupid coaching decisions.

    Plus injuries and apathetic fans.

    Plus bad karma from all of the years that we were arrogant ND SOBs.

    We are almost certainly headed for a losing record.

    If I were blue chip high school recruit, I’d certainly look to play elsewhere.

    Our ND mystique is now a fairy tale.

    • 9irish - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:17 PM

      now there are certain elements of truth in your comment….but don’t go saying that yet. They are so close, just can’t close the deal (bad luck….and coaching) They rarely get stomped.

      The stadium is a different issue….it should be more like the student section. but it is mostly a bunch of fuddy-duddys. standing up is a BAD thing! I have had the “privilege” of going to see OSU play before….it was like Somalia, just drunk, rude, dumb-asses everywhere at 10am….I also lived in Ann Arbor for 3 years, it was more like Notre Dame. Everyone was really friendly, nobody threatening to kill you if you were from the visiting team. BUT! the stadium itself was just a madhouse, very loud. Of course you have to figure it holds about 20,000 more people, too. ND games do tend to be a little bit uninspiring anymore, I will give you that…don’t know how to fix that.

    • pjm79nd - Nov 3, 2010 at 10:32 PM

      So let’s see:

      Stupid coaches…
      recruited Stupid players…
      who play in front of apathetic (Stupid) fans…
      who were arrogant (and Stupid).
      And any blue-chip recruit who comes to ND is Stupid.

      And I worried that perhaps I was too harsh and negative!

  9. goldnblew - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    “Here, Here! Excellent point. Patience is a virtue. SOmetimes a program has to hit bottom before it can right itself.”

    I’ve been reading this sentiment from Domers for almost 20 years! All I can say is, keep it up. Just remember what they say, “it’s always darkest before it goes pitch black.”

    What scares me are ND fans like pjm79nd when he writes, “-we still cannot run the ball, and our wonderfully talented offensive line cannot block.”

    And by the way, the ND braintrust knows that Kelly is the wrong guy. There are AT LEAST 5 guys that they would rather have instead of Kelly…… Gruden, Meyer, Harbaugh, Tressel, Saben. Furthermore, each of these know what it takes to be a TRUE BCS contender – a physical team that can run downhill.

    Case in point, watch Oregon – They are a scary team and can score a ton of points. They are a run first team. The Tulsa game showed that Kelly is using gimickry that may work at Podunk State University but will never win the close grind-it-out games.

    The sorry thing is that ND fans and ND mucky-mucks know this but there isn’t much they can do about it.

    On top of it all, there is something that ND never had to deal with before…. Financial constraints. Of course, these were self inflicted wounds. First, they are still paying for Ty’s rounds of golf out in sunny California. The Hamburgler’s pay out was huge. As sad as the Declan Sullivan tragedy was, there will be a financial impact as well. Then Kelly has a 6-year deal.

    When the Notre Dame faithful look out West to California, it must really be a painful sight to see what Stanford is doing. After a blow out by USC, ND faithful can cry “our academic and ethical standards are too high and we would never stoop to the level of the University of Spoiled Children”. Then go home, have your corned beef and cabbage and feel all better. But when they see Stanford – with WAY higher academic standards, smaller student body, located in a much more interesting and vibrant location (etc, etc, etc) play smash mouth football……. Kinda takes away any excuses.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

      You are a douchebag. And the corned beef and cabbage remark? Real classy fella. I guess you’re not just a douchebag. You are a prejudiced, ethnocentric douchebag as well.

      • goldnblew - Nov 3, 2010 at 4:53 PM

        Yes, admittedly, the corned beef comment was out of line and do regret it. “Other than that Mrs Lincoln?” In other words, besides the incendiary remarks, wish to offer intelligible refutation to key points made in my post?

        Kinda reminds me of the FarSide cartoon when a dog owner is talking to his K-9 companion:

        What the man says:
        “Bad dog George, very bad Geoge”

        What the dog hears:
        “blah blah blah George, blah blah George”

        So yes, I accept that I spend part of my day as a d-b, but I also assume by your otherwise content-free rant that you agree with the rest of my post….

  10. nd422 - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    I’ve been an ND fan for 35 plus years and have been thru the good, bad, and ugly. Reading these posts (not all, but alot) pretty much have made me realize one of the reasons why some nd haters exist. It’s so-called fans like those on this board who whine, complain, blame coaching, et, etc. Some nd fans also forget that they were the one’s who ran Holtz out of town but now everyone talks about him in the highest regard. And I’m tired of hearing about the fan frustration. In the early nineties only after a few years of winning the NC, people were frustrated with Holtz. There are lots of douchebags on this site and I’ve decided not to read these post anymore because of the idiot nd fans and not just the haters. Sorry to those who are not the db ND fans. Maybe I’ll come back in two years and I guarantee the same people on this site bashing Kelly and complaining about whatever else will still be here talking positive about ND. I’ll be supporting ND until then, not with blinders but with some foresight. Enjoy your miserable lives douchebags.

    • fightinmad35 - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:36 PM

      What are fans supposed to do?? Be happy with losing? Agree when a better choice is obvious? Not call a spade a spade?? I’m curious how it’s always the ND fans bashing the other fans opinions. This is what fans do. We cheer to delirium when we win and we complain until our throats are sore when we lose. We go through a season, get excited in the summer and hope for an even better season next year. We all have our points of view. That shouldn’t stop you from voicing yours because you don’t agree. I think the program stinks right now and it’s BK’s job to fix it. BK has to make better choices himself in some major areas as witnessed by the tragedy this past week on and off the field. I think we have sufficient enough talent to win the majority of games at ND. Over the past 3 seasons there haven’t been that many games that were lost over 7 points. That means we can’t give away points, turnovers, bad calls etc.. That is BK’s job.. Put the players in position to win games. I’m not calling for his firing yet.. I am a big complainer about some of his choices in tight games that ended up losses this season. Not only the players but the coaching has to get better as well and I hope for my own sanity they do. Go Irish!

  11. goldnblew - Nov 3, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    Calm down chief. As you say, you’ve “been an(a) ND fan for 35 plus years and have been thru(through) the good, bad, and ugly.” the real issue is the progression of your fan experience. When people make a statement like that, it’s generally understood that good and bad are chronologically diverse. Thick and thin, good and bad, high and low.

    Your frustration as a Notre Dame fan for the last 35 years is that the first 15 were good (very good), the next 10 were bad, and the last 10 have been ugly. I feel for you bro. I think any reasonable fan expects lean years and banner years….. but the steady and unrelenting decline is staggering….. and say what you will about human failings, people love to watch train wrecks

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 3, 2010 at 8:09 PM

      Who the hell are you? Moreover, why are you here? Your devoted love to Stanford and all things California allude that you are a Stanford student or a Stanford grad. Who knows? Who cares? The only thing that I can’t figure out is why you are on a Notre Dame football blog. I can guarantee you that none of the Notre Dame fans that post on this blog spend any time on Stanford blogs, USC blogs, or blogs for any team in the PAC-10. Would you like to know the reason? Well, the reason is twofold: 1) We just don’t care. We don’t care enough about what your team is doing or what your team is saying. We don’t care about whatever traditions your team supposedly has. We don’t care to know them or to talk about them. Notre Dame football is an outlet. Outlets can only take up so much of our time. Even if we wanted to go to other blogs, we wouldn’t have the time to do so. Some of us have jobs. 2) Most of us aren’t like you. You adhere to a concept known as Schadenfreude. It’s deriving pleasure from of the misfortune of others. We don’t get off from kicking others when they are down. People like you make me sick. In the same turn, you make me lose hope in humanity because the world is full of people like you. When it comes to your original argument, how do you know that the Notre Dame “braintrust” would prefer five other head coaches over Brian Kelly? Do you work in Notre Dame’s athletic department? No. Therefore, since you know nothing of the matter, don’t say anything about it. There. I just addressed your argument, douchebag. Oh, by the way, if you are going to correct grammar, you might want to start every sentence with a capital letter. That’s sort of a must in American English. And….yeah….all of these ellipses get annoying after a while don’t they? You might want to stay away from ellipses in the future unless you’re sending a text message.

  12. goldnblew - Nov 3, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    ndgoldandblue, suggestion – decaf

    Do you really not know why Notre Dame attracts so much attention? Why fans of other teams pile on?

    Because Notre Dame (and faithful) believe magic pixi-dust and has systematically placed themselves above the rest. Remaining independent, the NBC TV deal, arrogant comments by the previous coach as recent examples. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ND shouldn’t have their own TV deal. Like the saying goes, a dog licks his b@lls because he can.

    But…. when you stand on the highest mountain top and yell out “I’m the fairest in the land”, don’t whine when the other girls rejoice when you have a big red zit. Man up.

    Actually, from a completely academic perspective, I’m amazed at how relevant ND remains based on their on-the-field performance In case you missed it, that was a compliment).

    Look forward to reading your next rant – hoping your keyboard survives.

    P.S. Regarding your assertion that Kelly was not the first choice of the ND braintrust. You are correct, I was not part of the search committee….. but I do know this. If I had a gun to my head and I needed to guess who was number 1, 2, and 3 on the list, Kelly would not be one of them. How bout your list?

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 3, 2010 at 11:31 PM

      I don’t really know how I, as a fan, can man up. Do you want me to say that Notre Dame’s football program is in a great spot right now? I can’t because they aren’t. Things aren’t going very swimmingly right now, and, if you can’t tell by the reactions of many of the fans who post here, this year can only be chalked up as disappointing. It’s been a few years since Notre Dame has been considered relevant in college football. But, who’s to say that Notre Dame will never be relevant again? Look at Alabama. In 2004, the Crimson Tide lost to the mighty Golden Gophers of Minnesota in the Music City Bowl. If you ask me, Alabama turned things around in a hurry. Why can’t Notre Dame do that? My point is, if the Irish do manage to make great strides in the near future, people will still come onto this blog and spew out hate-mongering nonsense. Only, when it happens then, it will not be insults toward Notre Dame’s ineptitude. Rather, it will be insults toward Notre Dame’s…well…you can fill in the blank. People always find reasons to hate Notre Dame. Nothing will change that. Whether the Irish are good or bad, people will still hate, and the Notre Dame faithful will remain, well, faithful. Anyway, I guess I am conceding victory of this argument to you. It doesn’t make sense in carrying on when neither side can see the validity of the other side’s points.

  13. papadec - Nov 4, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    Keith – if you are looking for something to write about during this bye week – I remember an item (last year) that outlined 5 things that had to change @ ND. Nutrition table/conditioning, Dorm Life discipline, easing admission standards. I don’t remember all of them. You could address/assess where ND stands on that list. Thank you, and thanks to all of you who care enough to be upset, disappointed, rant……

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