Saturday, December 13, 2008

Notre Dame Football: Placing the Blame

This began as a lively discussion on the message board. I chopped up the discussion and presented the best quotes here. As you can see, the local readership is generally pro-Weis (if for no other reason than the lack of a suitable successor) and anti-Clausen.

Speaking of the message board, if you haven't been there before, why not stop by and say hi?

The Case For Charlie Weis

"Charlie brings a unique perspective to the position. Have you ever tried explaining to a non-Domer just how special ND is? It's nearly impossible. There's something about actually being there -- experiencing what it means to be part of the university family. As an alumnus, Charlie "gets it".

Suppose we find somebody new... what would they do differently? When Charlie was hired, he'd talk about flashing his 4 Super Bowl rings in front of prospective recruits, showing that he has what it takes to get them to "play on Sundays", and that's still legitimate. The other piece to the recruiting issue is the team's performance, and a coaching change isn't going to do anything (at least immediately) to change that." - Aflac

"I hear a lot of guff about how good or bad Weis is at his job. I hardly hear anything about how tough a job Weis has, either absolutely or relative to other teams with winning seasons.

Obviously, we should expect a great deal from our football coach. However, high expectations aren't the same as unreasonably high expectations. Where's the threshold...?" - Klondike

"The thing that gets me is that the media (and some fans) keep saying that Weis has only one win against ranked teams in the last 3 years. True, but that includes 2007, when they didn't beat anyone.

The important thing is that except in three cases (MSU, BC, USC), Notre Dame played their losses close to the very end. Unfortunately, young teams have a tendency to blow leads - that's nothing exclusive to this year's ND team. Now, next year when they're more experienced, they should be expected to win those games." - Kanka

"He's not Bob Davie complaining that we don't play more directional schools. He's not Ty Willingham, saying that 6-6 is good enough. He's not Urban Meyer, trying to cut deals to admit more academically questionable players. (As an aside, do you think the people who want Meyer now have forgotten about him saying that three years ago?)" - Kanka

"I think the fans are being short-sighted. If the season had gone the other way, beginning with disappointing losses and ending with maulings of Michigan, Purdue, and Washington, or if one or two of the losses had gone the other way, we wouldn't be hearing any of this talk. (Bear in mind, too, that ND's 38-3 loss to USC was only 3 points worse than OSU's.) Yes, we'd all like Notre Dame to compete for the national championship every year. But simply saying that (or yelling it, or typing it) doesn't make it possible." - Kanka

The Case Against Charlie Weis

"But at the same time, Gerry Faust "got it" so much that he went into the school's archives and found out that our true colors are gold and Madonna (light) blue. I'm sure Terry Brennan got it too. Heck, the people on this board get it, but I don't think any of us can lead the team to a National Championship." - Kanka

"I've never really liked Charlie. I think he is 20 times more cocky than Jimmy even though at least initially he backed that up. I think Charlie still sometimes thinks he's coaching a bunch of pros and if guys don't improve or decide to transfer or something, it's fine because he'll just go sign some experienced free agents in the off season to replace them. He basically doesn't care about the backups if they aren't freshmen. Then you have guys like DJ Hord and Richard Jackson transfer, George West, Floyd, and Parris all get hurt and you end up with 3 scholarship WRs for a game. Same thing with our TE situation. I know a ton of people who want him fired. I'm willing to give him another year mainly because there doesn't seem to be anyone better to replace him right now and once upon a time, it wasn't the Notre Dame way to fire a coach so quickly. He definitely needs to get a little humility though because right now he is not backing up his tough talk at all and it's making Notre Dame look stupid. There's a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Charlie is on the wrong side of that line. I'm really not sure how he recruits so well because if he came into my living room, I wouldn't be able to stand him. Maybe it works well because all the 5 star recruits are cocky as heck too and figure they will be the savior of ND football... then they get here and don't develop and end up looking like Jimmy Clausen. Charlie somehow needs to figure out how to develop talent because we do have talent, and I know they are working very hard, yet it is not showing on the field." - T

Firing Weis as a Business Decision

"Can ND afford to fire him? Of course. Even with his supposedly huge buyout, the university has the means to make it happen.

But who would replace him if they did?" - Aflac

"No question... it's Bush's fault.

I recommend a three-billion dollar bailout for ND Football. Of course, because of the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act we'll have to give another three billion dollars to the women's soccer team." - Klondike

"I'm sure the logistics of a coaching change play into a bit. The last few searches were ugly, and this team needs some stability." - Kanka

The Case For Jimmy Clausen

"He is definitely on the cocky side, but recently, I've started to think he's not quite as bad as he appears. I think he tries to be a good teammate and doesn't think he's above any of the other guys on the team. And just a side note, he would not be at a bar in a pink polo with a popped collar because he prefers to dress more hood, think baggy jeans, baseball hat cocked just so, etc... but he would have a blond or two hanging on his arms." - T

The Case Against Jimmy Clausen

"He had a rough year last year. I expected him to use the off-season to focus and improve, and he has to a point, but it's not enough. He still doesn't look like a Notre Dame quarterback, and at times he barely looks like a college-level QB. And when you look at the investment the university is making in him (conservatively, 5 years tuition + books + tutoring + etc = at least a quarter million), not to mention the 4 other QBs sitting on the bench, it adds up.

My problem is that I never liked Jimmy. From the signing ceremony where he rolled up to the College Football Hall of Fame in a stretch Hummer dressed like Joe Namath, I could tell that he just doesn't "get it". I thought that a little time under the dome would teach him what ND is all about, but he still has that cocky demeanor about him. At least he cut his hair. But he still looks like one of those jerks you see at a bar in a pink polo shirt with the collar popped and an aviation blonde hanging on his arm. " - Aflac

"I kind of wish Jimmy was more stereotypically German, but I'm not sure that would solve the problems that you guys are concerned with." - Klondike

"It seems like his ego is getting in his own way. That's not a big surprise there, and talking to a current student and people in adminitration confirms it. I'm not sure what the opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy (if you expect everything to go wrong, it will) is, but that's Clausen's problem. He expects things to turn out OK, no matter what he does. "If I just keep scrambling backwards, eventually I'll find someone." "Rudolph's being triple-covered, but the play says to throw it to him, so I'll do that anyways."

Clausen has talent. The first half of the season showed that he probably has better touch on the deep pass than Quinn. But the playcalling in the last few games - all screens and dumpoffs over the middle - shows Weis's faith in Clausen's decision-making ability right now." - Kanka

"I've never really liked Jimmy either. He set himself up for a horrible situation, although now I'm thinking it's not all his fault. The people advising him are equally responsible for how he came off. I've been in a few classes with him and don't think he's very smart which is necessary for a QB. Maybe Charlie's offense is just too much for him. Between his looks and his social akwardness and lack of smarts, he comes off as a bit of an anti-Brady Quinn to me." - T

Goals and Standards for 2009

"This year has been one of constant "How did we get here?" moments.

My solutions:

1. Establish benchmarks for Charlie. For example
- Min. 7 wins this year.
- Team GPA >3.0
- You get the idea

2. Begin to develop Dane Crist. We have taken too many big losses on plays that require only some savvy form the QB. I would be hesitant to bench Jimmy at the start of the season. He does have quite a bit of experience. I am not opposed to phasing him out though. He doesn't seem to be the permanent solution.

3. Return to fundamentals. Blocking, tackling, discipline (read avoiding simple penalties), and more competition (for every spot on the field)." - Yonto

"I believe Weis is smart enough to surround himself with smart people. A majority of his coaching staff, including himself, is inexperienced. He brought in Tenuta to mentor Corwin Brown, and the defense improved. Now I think he needs to bring in an offensive guy. Yes, technically he already is the experienced offensive guy. But you can't mentor a new offensive coordinator AND mentor a new quarterbacks coach AND be a new head coach all at the same time. " - Kanka

"I'm very happy that Crist is waiting in the wings, and we should see an open competition before too long. I'm also happy that Crist was not inserted into the Syracuse game, as many fans in section 102 wanted. Of course, these were the same fans that didn't understand why Clausen wasn't throwing deep to Floyd on every play and were dreading Walker's every attempt. (If you, like them, weren't aware, Floyd was injured and Walker entered the game in the middle of a 12 for 13 streak.) Of course, I'll chalk some of those comments up to extra alcohol intake on a 19-degree day." - Kanka

"I went into this season without any expectations, because the team was still young. But now that "Weis's guys" will be experienced upperclassmen in 2009, if you want to raise the expectations, so be it." - Kanka