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Kiffin’s firing and ASU’s offense both impact Notre Dame

Sep 29, 2013, 12:09 PM EDT

USC vs Notre Dame

As Arizona State piled up a remarkable six second half touchdowns, two realizations quickly came to mind last night: The Sun Devils offense looks mighty tough. And it was going to be a really difficult week for Lane Kiffin.

First let’s get to the juicy stuff. Kiffin was fired late last night after the team’s charter returned to Los Angeles from Tempe. The Los Angeles Daily News’ Scott Wolf reported that Kiffin was pulled off the team bus, where Pat Haden delivered the news as the team returned to campus without him. (Haden’s move feels right out of a movie, and certainly puts Jack Swarbrick’s sideline cancelation letter delivery to shame.)

In the short term, it’s hard to think USC’s team will be anything more than a mess. Haden will address the media today and is expected to name defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron interim head coach. Probably more damaging to the team’s short-term future is the status of Biletnikoff winner and All-American wide receiver Marqise Lee, who suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter while returning a punt down four touchdowns. Some are reporting that the injury isn’t as severe as some may have expected, but with three weeks until the Trojans come to South Bend, they may be without their best offensive weapon.

Where does Haden turn as he looks for a new head coach? CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman looked at some names with connections to the program (Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, Denver Broncos DC Jack Del Rio), and some not (Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, 49ers OC Greg Roman). Kiffin’s dismissal was likely done now to prevent an uprising among an already fickle fanbase as well as to get a leg up on other top programs that might have a job opening coming.

Make no mistake, the job is still one of the jewels of college football. A new $70 million football building, recruiting sanctions that are nearing an end, and a fertile recruiting base and program steeped in history. The long-term decision was an easy one for Pat Haden and might make things tougher for the Irish in their most important rivalry. But in the short-term, the Irish may have caught the kind of break they desperately needed.


On to the team that put the final nail in Kiffin’s coffin. Todd Graham‘s Arizona State Sun Devils rallied after getting trounced by Stanford last week, piling up over 600 yards against a Trojan defense that until last night had looked very good. If there was any worry that the mood in the Gug would be subdued after the self-inflicted loss to Oklahoma, one only needs to throw in the tape of ASU’s offense scoring a ridiculous six touchdowns in the second half to knock the pout out of the Irish.

Graham seems to have the Irish’s number. He beat Notre Dame while at Tulsa then nearly did it again at Pitt, where he hung tough in a 15-12 loss. He jumped at the job to move west, and he’s putting together the type of elite offense many thought he would. Quarterback Taylor Kelly might be the best one the Irish face this year, gouging the Trojans for 351 yards by air and averaging almost 20 yards per carry. Skill players offer personnel challenges that have started to look a little bit more obvious as the season wears on.

In a Shamrock Series game known mostly for a neutral site and an alternate uniform, Notre Dame’s season will be at a distinct crossroad. Get through Graham’s Sun Devils, and the Irish enter bye week at 4-2, with a USC team that could still be reeling. But a loss on Saturday will push Notre Dame back to .500, a place may hoped they wouldn’t ever see again.

The story lines continue to multiple as this crazy college football season rolls into October.

  1. irishking - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Oh my gosh. What a shocker. Trojan fans have to be extremely upset.

    The Irish will soon play a potent Az State team and I doubt they will pull out a win. After yesterday’s horrible performance and miscues against Oklahoma, ND is on the ropes gasping for air.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Shocker is right, 2 in the poo 1 in the coo, take that Kiffin! He’s a scumbag anyways he must’ve done something else to piss off Haden for him to fire him like the way he did.

      No matter, they’ve got scumbag jr orgeron running the team now. He’s even more scummier to me because he’s a sneaky snake, does it on the DL.

    • runners00 - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      I think that this may be right.

      The team reminds me a lot of the 2011 mistake-prone squad. I know it’s early but I don’t particularly see Temple and Purdue as strong foes. And we struggled with both. ASU looked pretty good last night.

  2. seadomer - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    USC fans was seen celebrating on the streets.

    Anyways, I have finally come out of my denial. I was indifferent in game 1, disappointed in game 2, confidence crushed in game 3, quietly hopeful in game 4, now we all know what to expect after game 5.

    I will keep watching but I am tired, as great as ND alumni out there serving and leading society, we understand that we all can’t be fortune 500 CEOs, cos there are only 500 spots, not all Harvard law grads get to become Supreme Court Judges, so similarly I feel the pain … I tried to feel what Tommy has to feel yesterday. It sucks, I know you’ve tried, just like Dayne Crist, he’s also a domer and even he is out.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      Sea domer, that’s why I gave up on the corporate world and now I just try to be the best druggie sexfocker on the planet. And I’ve still got lots of company so I might just try the Fortune 500 thing again.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      We suck don’t we? This is clearly rebuilding year where is Zaire? Redrag my a$$. Put the kid in there and get some PT. We will be int he same boat next year if golson gets brilliant and decides to transfer to South Carolina where studying consists of figuring out how to put weed in cigar appear and making it stick

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM


  3. dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Juice is loose again? You mean that double murderer/former USC football player? Or are you referring to USC cheerleaders crotch after recruiting visit? Anywho, oh my goodness juicy stuff, love it!

  4. seadomer - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    If letting a player start is a reward for being outstanding domer and not based on level of skill, then let 2nd and 3rd string play 2nd half.
    I don’t care, let’s try beat opponents in the 1st half with the first team and play 2nd and 3rd team in 2nd half, hey these guys are integral part of the team. I’m sure the 2nd and 3rd teamers have PRIDE and understand they REPRESENT NOTRE DAME. I’m sure they will relish the chance and give their best EFFORT and HEART.

  5. irish4me - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    I was wondering, you think ASU’s defensive game plan will be to stack the box with 8 – 9 and dare Tommy to throw deep? And conversely our defensive game plan would be play deep, defend the big play and give ’em everything over the middle and don’t worry that they can run circles around us by running the edges?

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:09 PM


    • dillonbigred - Sep 29, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      Yes, but if ND can get off to a fast start and….. oh to hell with it!

    • rpbags - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      This game will be ugly and our lack of speed will be shown on a national stage, oh wait thats every sat lol

      • runners00 - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:13 PM

        It’s not the lack of speed. We’re quick in nearly all phases. The problem is the lack of execution. Rees (or the line) missing the “blitz” on the first play from scrimmage is an example of what can destroy the Irish against ASU next weekend. It was a simple play, really, and we didn’t see it.

        We are not slow. We are physical enough to defeat most teams, including ASU. But if we give them the ball three extra times, we’re screwed.

      • nudeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        “We are not slow”


        Speed is a relative thing and ND was slower than OK at every matchup position
        How many times did you see our DBs trailing their WRs by a step?
        Bennet Jackson’s attempt to cover would be hilarious if it wasn’t so disgustingly inept

        How many times did you see Davaris Daniels or any ND WR blowing past an OK defender?
        “Never” is the right answer.
        How many times did Bell make defenders (including the alleged all world Jaylon Smith) miss?
        And how many times did Rees make OK defenders miss?

        Wasn’t even close. ND is has minimal speed on defense. Really slow. DBs and LBs are a joke

  6. irish4me - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I know exactly what you mean about denial, I too have my eyes wide open now. I don’t see any way that our “D” stops ASU from scoring at least 40 and our “O” which is so ridiculously one dimensional will score more than 24. Wouldn’t be surprised by a total beat down, this ASU team is far better than Michigan or Oklahoma. Sure hope what I’m feeling is just a hangover from a loss that shouldn’t have happened. Can’t give away 21 points on turnovers and expect to beat a top 25 team. Sure hope we beat Navy this year.

  7. rayguy14 - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    If Kelly didn’t bench Rees in 2011 he ain’t gonna do it now. I just wish we could run the football and get to some play action. That should be our identity. Kelly should have established it against Tulsa and never looked back. Did our ground game look better on Saturday?? I guess…the stats looked nice on paper. However, until we can use the ground game to churn up yards and march down the field, opening up some aspects of the passing game, and use the running backs to punch it into the end zone, we really can’t get too excited about the run game. Wisconsin destroyed Purdue on the ground. As someone mentioned, I doubt Purdue was keying on anything else. ND has got to be able to run the ball. This is the most talented line in recent ND history…if Hiestand and Kelly can’t make them effective creating holes for the backs, then they are causing us to underachieve.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      Ray we did that. Problem is that that works against shtty teams. Doesn’t work against good teams. That’s the problem. Nothing works against good teams with Rees as starting qb

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      Bk knows it too which is why he tossed Hendrix in there, he knows. He’s gonna have to figure out something else like ZAIRE, HERROOOOOOOO? Is there anybody in there? DUHHHHHHHHHH

      • dillonbigred - Sep 29, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        What I don’t understand is why BK picked those times to put in Hendrix. Both times mid drive when the offense was moving. What happens? Penalties, Luckily Rees saved the one drive with the third down throw. Has switching QBs middrive worked ? And I don’t put Tommy coming in last year in this category.

  8. rayguy14 - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    On a positive note…the tailgating is as good as ever. Brats, Bourbon, Wings and Beer. Nothing beats the camaraderie of an ND tailgate. For at least a few hours on Saturday my life was full of bliss.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      How bout the btches? Where da ho’s at?

  9. nudeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Stupidest thing I’ve here so far: “if not for the three turnovers we’d have beaten OK”

    That’s some Tom Jackson quality brilliance there. I suppose if OK only had 50 yds of offense instead of 450 we’d have beaten them worse.

    Please, stop with the ridiculous “If” bullshit. We got beat and out coached by a better team. If you didn’t see an OK team that was more athletic, faster in almost every match up and just all around better then you saw a different game than me.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Simply put Rees can’t be the starting qb vs good teams. It’s too easy.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      Got dam it I’m so sick of seeing Rees doing same things for 4 years now. Let him come off the bench. We gotta have something on the bench. Poor guy we are all gonna hate the kid by the time he graduates.

  10. seadomer - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    I AM NOT calling for BK’s head but he has to do something, I don’t know what it is, but something SIGNIFICANT. Fire somebody, change something, Let two students from intra mural league at ND start. One at O and the other at D. Let them experience playing at Notre Dame.
    Invite ND baseball pitcher for a few series at QB, let the Women Soccer player do a field goal, Ask a basketball player lobe one on 3rd and 2 (can’t be any worse), Best yet, get a few hockey players at linebacker. Conversely, enroll Calabrese and Fox in wrestling, etc. Everybody’s a winner, I guess we don’t keep score at ND football anymore, its just what college sports is right?? just another extra-curricular activity for healthy body, sound mind.

    Also, I must have verbalize and thought as many “What the Fuck” in a 2 hour period yesterday as I did in the past 20 years.

    Since Lane Kiffin is available, let’s just hire him as a football consultant, I’m sure he’ll create enough drama for ND to be in the news.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Ummm mom FOCKING yanking Rees for Zaire will go a looooooong way.

  11. irish4me - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Couldn’t agree more Nude. To say Notre Dame’s coaching staff sucks (Martin I’m looking right at you) is an insult to coaching staff’s that merely suck everywhere. With the talent we have (top 5 recruiting classes for 4 years now) it’s hard to imagine how they could be this lost on both sides of the ball. What’s with the Pistol and the empty backfield formations? Whatever happened to the screen pass out of the backfield. What a colossal F/U this team is.

    • dickasman - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Well, players make the coaches. When you ain’t got sht, you ain’t sht!

    • rayguy14 - Sep 29, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      Notre Dame’s recruiting has improved of late but to say Top 5 for four years, is a bit misleading. According to 247’s Composite rating, which averages all the different recruiting services ratings, ND’s senior class of 2010 was rated 17th; the Junior class was 9th; the Sophomore class 19th; and the freshman were 5th….good for an average class rating of 13th. It must also be taken into account the vast amounts of transfers of highly rated players from those classes. When you consider it like this, it makes sense that the Irish are a team sitting right around the bubble of the top 25 in college football.

      • nudeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        Doubt they’re anywhere near the bubble of Top 25 now. Nor should they be.

      • irish4me - Sep 29, 2013 at 4:50 PM

        Rayguy14, thanks for the schooling on the recruiting classes, I wasn’t aware, but even at 13th avg rating, all things being equal that should put ND near the top ten if the coaching was on a par with other schools. I’m not calling for Kelly’s head, but geez the defense is totally without spirit or direction and the “O” is one dimensional and completely unimaginative. They need something drastic to shake things up. Anything, please.

  12. 700levelvet - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Can’t wait to see USC and ND in the “SpongeBob SquarePants” bowl this year.a 7-5 team vs, a 6-6 team……should be epic….

    • papadec - Sep 29, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      Watch the game @ ND on 10/19.

  13. irishdodger - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    If Kelly is going to stubbornly plan to outscore ASU then there be a bloodletting Saturday night as ASU will boatrace the Irish in humiliating fashion. SC was able to run on ASU’s D last night & they haven’t run on anyone all year, so there’s hope that ND can go w/ the two-TE sets and play smash mouth before hitting our WR & TE with play action.

    • irish4me - Sep 29, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      Irishdodger, that sounds like a solid plan, but wouldn’t the coaching staff have to SEE that and come up with a similar conclusion ? I’m thinking we’ll be seeing a lot of the Pistol and Empty Backfield formations. You know the shit that worked so well yesterday.

      • nudeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        I’ll go on record right now as saying ND gets beat soundly by ASU
        Never thought I’d be writing that, even as recently as a week or so ago

  14. bb90grad - Sep 29, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Seems like we all could use a heaping helping of Momma Arnold’s Chicken Soup for the ND Lover’s Soul right about now. You out there, Mrs. A?

  15. nudeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Some additional thoughts:
    1. The coaches and specifically BK must take accountability for the team’s malaise. Is it possible that his screwing around with the NFL has hurt his credibility with the players? Something is very wrong.

    2. Speaking of accountability, Rees never pays a price for his turnovers and poor play. We constantly hear BK say of QBs and RBs “if he doesn’t take care of the ball he won’t play”. Wanna’ bet Rees keeps playing?

    3. ASU laid 62 on USC. There’s not a team in D-I who ND could score 62 against. Even though it’s a pseudo home game, Shamrock Series, new uniforms, blah blah, I see no chance of ND winning. They’re coached by Todd Graham who gave BK fits in 2011 at Pitt.

    4. This looks more and more like 2011 all the time. Uninspired, sloppy, Rees, BK purple face.

    5. ND will lose 3 more games this year: ASU, Stanford and one other, probably BYU.

    6. ND’s defense gave up 450 yards, including 212 on the ground. BK says they played “great”. Wouldn’t you love to have a boss like that?

    • shamrocknroll - Sep 29, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      “Is it possible that his screwing around with the NFL has hurt his credibility with the players?”


      This has been a consistent theme that you and one or two others on here have tried to push. Give it a rest. With the way you’ve beat that dead horse you should be arrested for animal cruelty.

    • viktory2013 - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      Rees seems to have a degree of infallibility with Kelly; the offensive line missed blocks, the receivers screwed up their routes, the wind was blustery, the sun was in his eyes. 9/24, 104 yards with 3 picks. But it was the fault of all 11 guys, not Tommy. I’ve never seen a player operate with such ridiculous immunity. He’s booed off the field, flayed in print, humiliated by opponents, and yet, always seems to be starting! It’s been this 4 year ordeal…an itch you can’t scratch. I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll ever graduate or just be ordained “ND Quarterback for Life” like a third world dictator.

      • nudeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:41 PM


        No accountability in 2011 and none now.

        I don’t know if any of you guys read his comments from today’s presser – it’s insulting.
        2 of the 3 INTs were someone else’s fault.
        No idea WTF is going on but Kelly clearly has a blind spot when it comes to Rees

        I have never believed – and have written it here many times – the bullshit about him “getting us into the right play”. If you’re always doing that, you don’t go 9-24 with 3 picks. Or 14-34 the week before.

        This is such crap. The guy can’t play. Can Hendrix really be any worse?

        Please bench this guy.

  16. papadec - Sep 29, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    The only reason I regret Kiffin getting fired last night is because I wanted it to happen after ND pounded them, this year. Although, pounding the newest slime ball at usc will be almost as rewarding. Maybe Haden is going to clean up the program by elevating each of the major players involved in the sanctions mess to HC, then dumping them. If I remember correctly Orgeron was part of the problem with Carroll, and both Kiffins. I don’t expect Orgeron to be there next year.

  17. rpbags - Sep 29, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    So maybe Bk can go to USC now lol! Anyway if you think we have a chance on sat night then you are in denial of what has happend and what is happening to ND. 4 years into this and its the same ol same ol crap. One season that we should of lost 4 games but did not because of a missed field goal and the legs of EG. Tommy gives us no chance to win and i would say start playing all the young players now, you know like Alabama does because they take care of business and have that luxury! No where near being a top 5 or ten team anytime soon so what does BK have to lose, the seat is already getting hot but we have been here before and the next coach will say that he is gonna do this and gonna do that but in the end its the same ol same ol!!!!!

  18. bronzestarusmc - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    You know you just might want to give the a Sooners some credit!

  19. bronzestarusmc - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Maybe just maybe, you could give the Sooners so e credit!

    • nudeman - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:35 PM

      I’ll give them credit. They were clearly the better team.
      Only thing is I’m not sure that beating ND is a sign that they’re a great team.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

        my thoughts exactly. the only thing worse than ND’s overall performance is that it came against a team that i don’t see finishing in the top 25. spoiler alert: OU isn’t very good.

        OU ran on ND and they threw the ball too, and the worst part about it is that Bell is an average-to-poor passing QB and OU’s run game isn’t much better.

        as they say in the military, “morale is low” and try as i might, i can’t pinpoint the “bright side” on which to look. GAIII has a nice run that will keep him at the front of the rotation, but on 6-8 of his other runs he still looked tentative and afraid to initiate contact and deliver a blow. he can be fast as the day is long, but when opposing defenses are licking their chops to meet you in the hole because they know it’s not going to hurt, that’s a bad place for your running game to be.

        i’ll stop now and impose a new rule on myself to not comment until Wednesdays. On Mondays and Tuesdays the wounds are still too fresh.

  20. savejimmyjohnsonsassforme - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    First and long Boys, just can’t stay off the keyboard any longer after another heartless, uninspired performance.

    I see about half-a-dozen problems on a weekly basis that won’t easily be fixed:

    1. Coaching
    2. Coaching
    3. Coaching
    4. Coaching
    5. Coaching
    6. And, oh yeah, COACHING!

    “The Football Player” , generally speaking and regardless of intelligence or achedemic achievement, is an idiot, who must be told, sternly and repeatedly, every day, in able to master even the simplest task on a football field. When a player is finally able to experience success on the field, due to execution drilled into his head in practice, he is inspired to the point that he’ll run through walls for his coach. The great teams, collectively and to a man, will run through walls for their coach. The poor, underachieving teams are ill-prepared each week and play heartless, uninspired football on the field.

    By the way, as we all know, the guy whose words compose my moniker was a great coach, with great teams, composed of football players who’d run through walls for him.

  21. loadofwash - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Notre Dame sucks from top to bottom and south bend is an arm pit. No one cares.

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