Monday, November 30, 2009

"You mean like...not good 1 out of 100?"

First Bob Stoops comes out and says he plans on coaching at Oklahoma next year, deflating Notre Dame Nation in the process...

...but then that little weasel Adam Schefter on ESPN reports that Bob Stoops and Notre Dame actually do have mutual interest and that an agreement is "imminent" and "all but a done deal."

So Bob, give it to me straight...what are the odds a coach like you ends up with a school like mine?

Goodbye Coach

This picture was taken almost exactly four years ago in 2005. It was right before the Fiesta Bowl when my business partner Chris and I went to the Gug to donate money from the Charlie's Army t-shirt business we started and ran that fall. Coach Weis was incredibly gracious and thankful and took time out of his day to talk about the state of the program, hint at what recruits were in town that weekend (Micah Johnson and Leonard Gordon), and sign a couple Charlie's Army shirts for us.

I would've bet every last thing I owned that he was going to be the one to bring Notre Dame back to the top. Breaks my heart that he wasn't.

Thank you for all your contributions and efforts and for conducting yourself in a way that made us proud. I wish the best of luck to a true Notre Dame man.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear Diary...Notre Dame-Stanford

The final regular season diary of 2009 comes to you live from the Lehigh Valley. I’ve dusted off the old Charlie’s Army shirt for one last hurrah. Tonight has a somber and depressing feel. I hope against hopes that the Irish can pull off the upset and send Charlie out on a winning note…let’s fire it up.

8:00 Jimmy is walking in with Elton John glasses minus the sequins…talk about fodder for opposing fans. They finally reveal his blackened eye as he’s warming up on the field. Whoever hit him landed a pretty good punch.

8:01 They’re showing Charlie’s opening press conference and his last Sunday press conference. I cannot believe almost exactly five years later we’ve arrived at this point.

8:12 Stanford wins the toss and chooses to take the ball. Jim Harbaugh always takes the ball when he wins the toss. Remember when we did that? God, what the HELL happened?!?! This is like a bad dream.

8:13 Stanford returns the opening kickoff to the 46 yard line. Another fine start from the Irish special teams. Ugh.

8:14 I love Herbstreit and I’m one of the few people who still likes Musberger…but if they spend the entire evening gushing about Luck and Gerhart at the pace they are now I’m going to crush the mute button.

8:15 Manti Te’o comes in and stuffs a defender short of the first down on second down. Great, sound tackle. 3rd and 2, come on Irish.

8:16 Gerhart is STUFFED off the left tackle. Manti Te’o in on the play again. Stanford is forced to punt. Great start for the defense, great start for #5. Let’s go boys!

8:17 Fumble on the first offensive play from scrimmage by Theo Riddick. Wasn’t a big hit or anything—in fact he wasn’t even close to being knocked down—he just didn’t secure the ball well and let it slip out of his hands. All you can do is shake your head at this point. Few players outside of Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, and Kyle McCarthy have done much to save Charlie Weis this season. Mental errors galore.

8:18 Manti Te’o makes a tackle short of the first down bringing up another 3rd and 2.

8:19 Touchdown Stanford. Toby Gerhart breaks an ankle tackle that almost trips him up, but he gets his hand on the ground to keep his balance and dives into the endzone. Great second effort there. Stanford 7, Notre Dame 0 less than four minutes into the game.

8:25 Duval Kamara is flagged for an illegal procedure call on first down. Two plays, one fumble, one illegal procedure. It’s declined by the Cardinal because Hughes got thrown for a loss. The size of the brain tumor this season has given me could be placed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

8:25 Musberger comments on how the sloppy play could be attributed to the fact that assistant coaches are looking for other jobs and not coaching as hard so the players’ focus suffers. Brent, you obviously haven’t watched many of our games this season.

8:26 Irish are forced to punt. Is this headed down the path of the Pitt game?

8:27 TURK BOOMS ONE AND IT’S A FUUUUUUUMBLLLLLLLLLLE! THE IRISH RECOVER! SERGIO BROWN RIPS THE BALL FREE AND WE’LL TAKE OVER AT THE 16 YARD LINE. That was a great punt by Ben Turk—maybe he’s finally getting it. See, good things happen when you unload bombs like that.

8:28 Jimmy tries to get Golden in the endzone and it just slips through Tate’s fingers. Would’ve been a ridiculous catch but we’ve reached the point where when he doesn’t come down with it—no matter how tough it is—you’re shocked.

8:29 Robert Hughes on 3rd and 2 busts through the line for a gain of three. Good job there by the offensive line.

8:30 TOUCHDOWN IRISH. GOLDEN TATE IN THE FRONT CORNER OF THE ENDZONE. Sharpley bobbles the snap on the extra point but Ruffer finds a way to get it through the uprights. COME ON BOYS, LET’S GET’EM. Notre Dame 7, Stanford 7.

8:34 Musberger is not exactly on fire tonight. He’s already mispronounced Ragone, called Sharpley “Shipley,” and called a pass incomplete and out of bounds when it was pretty clearly caught. Just blatantly screwing up what’s going on during the game and the total butchering of simple player names (I mean Sharpley isn’t showing up on the Scripps National Spelling Bee) must be added to the Brent Musberger Drinking Game. If you haven’t seen/played this game, you need to do both as soon as possible. We played this senior year, it makes the game so much more entertaining. Click the Musberger link.

8:35 Three plays and three first downs for the Cardinal. A great catch along the sideline for one, a huge run on a stretch to the left, and another one right up the gut. They’re just steamrolling us—HUGE holes opening each play.

8:36 Sergio Brown BURIES the quarterback on a second down safety blitz. Great timing on that play.

8:38 Stanford completes a pass on third and long but it’s short of the first down. Luck looks a little jumpy in the pocket; the Irish are actually got a pretty good push on the line there. Notre Dame transfer Nate Whitaker trots out and splits the uprights to put another three points on the board for the Cardinal. Stanford 10, Notre Dame 7 with 5:59 left in the first quarter.

8:43 GREAT job by Jimmy Clausen to step up in the pocket and shovel a pass to Robert Hughes on third and seven for a first down. That play highlights how far he’s come in terms of strength the past couple years. The guy is a gritty, gritty competitor.

8:45 Another first down by Jimmy on third down after delivering a bullet to Tate. Great throw and great catch. The replay shows exactly why Tate is a great prospect (unreal hands—brought it down even though he was probably being interfered with) and why he’s still got a ways to go (lazy route).

8:46 BRUISING run by Robert Hughes picks up eight. He carried three or four defenders for the last four yards. Good, hard-earned yards right there. When he runs with that sort of purpose we become a totally different team, especially in short yardage situations…like this one. It’s 3rd and 1.

8:47 THEO RIDDICK WITH A HUGE 24 YARD RUN ON 3RD AND 1. That’s a fantastic playcall right there by Weis. Everyone once in awhile he rolls out plays that remind you why he’s considered an offensive genius…it’s just been too few and far between lately. That just totally caught the Stanford with their pants down.

8:48 TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOOWN IRISH! JIMMY SCRAMBLES RIGHT AND FINDS MICHAEL FLOYD IN THE CORNER OF THE ENDZONE. PHENOMENAL CATCH BY FLOYD! What a great three play stretch. How the hell is this a 6-5 football team?!?! Braxton Cave is long-snapping like he’s got money on Stanford, but Sharpley gets it down and Ruffer sneaks the extra point inside the left upright. Notre Dame 14, Stanford 10.

8:52 David Ruffer kicks it out of bounds on the kickoff. It’s our first noteworthy “Gun-Foot-Fire” of the day. We just do so many little things wrong every game. One step forward, one step backward.

8:53 First down is an eight yard pass which was pretty easy because the receiver had a ten yard cushion. Just the same stuff different day. On the next play Gerhart easily picks up the first down as he carries defenders along the last few yards. Sergio Brown was working to try to strip him—Sergio, don’t fall in love with the strip just because it worked once, get the guy on the dam ground.

8:56 Luck hits a receiver with Brian Smith right in his grill. It seems like our blitzers are getting through with a much higher rate of success than normal today. Will this cause Tenuta to dial up “Gaps Fire” on 92% of our plays? Probably.

9:01 The defense holds and Mr. Whitaker draws one just inside the right upright from 47 yards. How did Brandon Walker and Carl Gioia beat out this kid? Notre Dame 14, Stanford 13. We might have a great, entertaining shootout on our hands here if both teams keep up this pace.

9:06 The Irish are on the march with Hughes running like a man possessed and leading the charge. He almost took the last one to the house—the last defender BARELY tripped him up on an 11 yard burst up the middle. The offensive line is really controlling the line of scrimmage right now.

9:08 The Irish face a 4th and 1. Jimmy sneaks it for the first down but Charlie called a timeout before the snap.

9:11 Robert Hughes BUSTS up the middle for 15 yards behind a devastating block from Chris Stewart that wiped out two defenders. First down Irish. If Stewart continues progressing and stays motivated he’s absolutely going to be playing on Sundays. He’s a phenomenal athlete for someone of his size and when he locks onto a defender that guy is like a bug on Matt Kenseth’s windshield.

9:12 Riddick picks up six on first down. Thus far it’s been a dominating performance from the boys up front.

9:13 Clausen fumbles the exchange but recovers. Same crap, different day.

9:13 Incomplete pass on third and four. Time to trot out David Ruffer for a 42 yard attempt.

9:14 Ruffer splits the uprights and the Irish increase their lead to four, 17-13. Disappointing that the drive didn’t end up in the endzone with how the line was blowing the defenders off the ball on the march down the field.

9:16 Stanford starts with a kickoff return to the 38. They’ve had unbelievable field position all day.

9:17 Toby Gerhart blows right up the middle for 18 yards, he wasn’t even touched until he was in the secondary. He’s a hard runner—he just lowers his head and keeps his legs going 100mph even as he’s going down.

9:19 The bald eagle John Ryan with a stop in the backfield! Who would’ve thought he’d actually show up and be somewhat productive and likeable his senior season.

9:20 They interview Gerhart’s dad who has the personality of a soup can. Musberger spends awhile talking about the fact that Toby and his dad communicate during the game through hand signals. Invigorating stuff. I’d watch one of the Twilight movies before I’d listen to this guy talk for another two minutes. That’s a lie…meanwhile the Irish hold and force a Stanford punt.

9:22 False start on Sam Young followed by a hold backs the Irish to the three. Goodness gracious.

9:25 2nd and 19 is a small gain by Theo Riddick on a draw but a late hit gives us an automatic first down. Moronic play by the defense, one I’m used to seeing the guys in gold helmets making.

9:26 TOUCHDOOOOOOWN IRISH!!!!!!!! GOLDEN TATE ON THE 78 YARD BOMB FROM CLAUSEN IN DOUBLE COVERAGE. UN-BE-LIEVABLE. GREAT THROW, GREAT CATCH. Notre Dame jumps out to a 24-13 lead. Thank you very much for that idiotic penalty to kick-start the drive. Someone get Jim Harbaugh a valium before his head explodes. Go yell at your player that laid the blatantly obvious hit you lunatic, not the ref who called it.

9:32 Stanford has rolled right down the field and a long Luck pass has them inside the five with a minute left. Brent Musberger says “get ready for Toby” before the first down play. Manti Te’o responds “NO SOUP FOR YOU TOBY” as he STUFFS Gerhart at the line of scrimmage.

9:34 Touchdown Stanford with the fullback off the right tackle. Dam. The extra point makes it 24-20 with just 11 seconds left in the half. I don’t know why we wouldn’t have used our timeouts there in an attempt to give us a chance to respond when we got the ball back.

9:37 Notre Dame just takes a knee and goes into halftime up 24-20. I’d have to say I’m very, very pleased with our performance thus far. As expected, Gerhart has been productive (73 yards and a TD at 5.2ypc) but the Irish offense has looked like the well-oiled machine we knew it was capable of being for the first time since the Washington State game. The team that wins this game will be the one who makes the necessary adjustments on defense. I’m just happy that it’s been a relatively relaxing and enjoyable 30 minutes of football. It hasn’t been flawless by any stretch (Theo’s fumble, Ruffer’s kick out of bounds, stupid penalties, etc), but on the whole that was a great half of football—specifically on offense. Let’s keep it going and gut out a W.

9:59 The Irish get the ball to start the second half and return it out to the 23. Whitaker’s kickoff lands at the 3 yard line. I don’t remember him ever kicking it that far. How in God’s name have we not had a kicker since Nick Setta that can reach the endzone consistently?

10:00 Golden Tate on the reverse goes for 15 yards on the first play from scrimmage, followed by Robert Hughes drilling up the middle for another eight yards. Offensive line gets the gameball in my book at this point in the game.

10:02 TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOOOWN IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CLAUSEN ON A WILDCAT REVERSE BOMBS IT TO A WIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE OPEN MICHAEL FLOYD. BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED PLAY, BEAUTIFUL EXECUTION. IRISH GO UP 31-20. We’d only been setting up the Clausen throwing from the receiver position of the Wildcat play since the first game of the year. This is the Charlie Weis that we thought would show up this season. We’re absolutely clowning their defense right now—there have been multiple times where they’ve been caught with their pants down, almost reminiscent of the 2005 Pitt game. Unfortunately, he needed this game to happen against Pitt. Too little, too late but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it immensely.

10:03 This text from Dip sums it up pretty well: “I’m glad Charlie waited until his fate was sealed to unleash a flurry of well-thought out, schematic advantage-type plays that have us whipping a good team.” Totally agree. I still don’t understand what happened—he did this for an entire year in 2005, don’t tell me that coaches “figured him out” to such a thorough degree.

10:08 Crummy field position for Stanford because of a bobbled catch on the kick is quickly reversed thanks to some big runs by Toby Gerhart and Stepfan Taylor. They’re dominating the line of scrimmage just like we are on the other side of the ball. Their running backs have a whole lot of real estate to work with when they get the ball. The difference between the teams right now is that they’re moving the ball at will on the ground and we’re doing it through the air. Odds are much better they can keep it up than we can.

10:11 Andrew Luck scrambles to the right for a 17 yard rush inside 15 yard line. Odds of us making a stop right now are about 5%.

10:12 Touchdown Stanford, Gerhart takes the pitch and bulls into the left side of the endzone. This is a shootout. Right now we’ve got the upperhand; we really can’t afford to slip up though because I don’t see us stopping their bruising attack. That being said, there’s a 99% chance Charlie is coaching his last game and it’s quite evident he’s pulling out every stop with the plays he’s calling. No reason we can’t just keep rolling, right? Right? Anybody?

10:17 Beautifully executed screen on first down to Robert Hughes goes for 23 yards down the left sideline. That was without a doubt the best execution on a screen play since Darius Walker was in the backfield.

10:18 Theo Riddick gets lit up on a screen…by his blocker Chris Stewart. Facepalm. 3rd and 9 coming up here. Come on Irish.

10:19 The Irish are forced to punt as Jimmy overthrows Golden who had his man beat deep. Dam. Stanford will take over at the 13.

10:22 Harrison Smith DESTROYS Gerhart in the flat just as the ball hits Toby’s hands. Toby’s having a good day but he’s taken some big hits. I’ll give Harrison credit for playing a lot better since his transition back to linebacker. That doesn’t mean I forgive him for the rest of the season. Not even an iota.

10:23 Andrew Luck scrambles on third and long for a huge gain after he eluded a heavy rush by ND, but it’s coming back for a hold. It’s going to be 3rd and 11. COME ON IRISH, HOLD.

10:25 Gerhart takes a ball wide open in the flat and rumbles for a 33 yard gain. Jeez almighty, we couldn’t stop a pee wee offense right now.

10:26 Another 21 yard gain on a flea flicker. The receiver goes out of bounds right in front of Clausen, who gives him an earful. Apparently it’s his old high school teammate. Adorable.

10:28 Another third down conversion for the Cardinal on a great catch by the tight end.

10:29 Sergio Brown takes Taylor down in the backfield on a blitz and starts celebrating half way through his tackle. Great play Sergio, now settle down.

10:30 Darrin Walls comes up and makes a great stop on third down for another loss of yardage, bringing up a 4th and 7 as the third quarter comes to a close. Come on Charlie, don’t take the foot off the gas. You’re calling a great game so far, don’t go into a shell and leave it up to the defense.

10:34 Stanford splits the uprights and it’s 31-30.

10:37 Touchback on the kickoff. What the hell Nate Whitaker?!?!

10:38 Jimmy goes deep to Golden Tate but it falls incomplete. Fortunately we get a questionable pass interference call to go our way and it’s an automatic first down.

10:39 Hughes trucks for nine yards on first down, followed by Michael Floyd taking a quick pass in the flat for 12 yards. We’re rolling, come on baby!

10:40 Another interference call on Stanford on a deep pass to Michael Floyd. Charlie has quickly answered the question as to whether he’ll keep his foot on the gas. I like it—I like it a lot.


10:43 Tack on a personal foul penalty on Stanford. Jim Harbaugh’s blood pressure has to have reached the Mark Mangino range. The extra point is good and it’s 38-30 Irish.


10:47 Gerhart goes right to work right up the middle, a 28 yard run with a Sergio Brown “OLE” thrown in there for good measure. This is why you aren’t allowed to celebrate when you do your job Sergio. I find myself talking to him more than any other player in these diaries.

10:49 Stanford is already down inside the 25, but a holding penalty on first down is going to back them up to 1st and 20 at the 34.

10:51 Gerhart plows down for 12 yards to cut it to 3rd and 8. Harbaugh barks on the sidelines that they have two downs which means you can count on a run play here. Come on Irish, COME UP WITH A STOP HERE.

10:52 Taylor gets stopped after a four yard gain, bringing up a 4th and 4. Huge play here. COME ON BABY.

10:53 Toby Gerhart throws a halfback pass and Whalen makes a helluva catch in the endzone while being interfered with for a touchdown. Great, ballsy call there by Harbaugh and great execution by the team. Notre Dame 38, Stanford 36. Alright, big two point conversion play coming up here.

10:55 Two point conversion is good on a tight end drag along the back of the endzone behind Kyle McCarthy. We’re all tied up at 38 with 8:59 left. Instant Classic in the making, at the very least this has been an unbelievably entertaining game to watch…unlike Bob Davie’s “Dead Man Walking” trip to Palo Alto in 2001 (a 17-13 ugly, ugly loss in the mud to Ty Willingham).

10:58 Nate Whitaker bangs one into the endzone and Theo brings it out to the 16. Seeing other teams do so many subtle, little things well highlights how poorly we do them. They make a colossal difference in tight games—which, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re always involved in.

10:59 Great start with a bruising run up the middle by Robert Hughes for nine yards. Floyd picks up a first down on a pass to the flat on the next play. Alright, let’s keep rolling boys.

11:01 Paul Duncan takes a deflection and runs it for five yards…a text from Brad and/or Panzer is on the way, guaranteed.

11:01 Brad’s text: “Paul Duncan WIN”

11:02 Stanford stuffs Hughes on 3rd and 2 and forces a punt. Crap. That was essentially like they broke our serve in tennis. A mediocre 39 yard punt by Ben Turk gives the Cardinal the ball at the 29 yard line with 5:48 left. Well, it’s going to come down to the defense coming up with a stop to give Jimmy one more chance. Get ready for a huge dose of Toby Gerhart—Harbaugh doesn’t want to give the ball up again. I feel like every Irish fan can already see how this is going to play out…and it won’t leave any of us happy.

11:05 Two plays, two Gerhart runs, one first down. The second run was a Heisman highlight reel run where he ran over Gary Gray and then dragged some more defenders for even more yardage.

11:06 Musberger just informed us that Gerhart just passed Lendale White and Corey Dillon on the all-time rushing TD list during the game. Any time you can erase Lendale White’s name from the record books I’ll applaud. On the scale of life, I have White rating out somewhere between jock itch and a pile of dog feces.

11:07 Big 3rd and 6 here just over midfield…my faith that we’ll make the play is somewhere around zero. COME ON IRISH.

11:07 Completion over the middle for a big gain and a first down. We’re now creeping toward the two minute mark.

11:10 Notre Dame stops them and forces a 3rd and 1 with 1:44 remaining. Irish burn their first timeout…man, Nate Whitaker is going to beat us. Talk about a kick in the balls.

11:11 Toby Gerhart goes right up the middle for a huge gain inside the five yard line. Slaughter got flattened. Gerhart not scoring was probably the worst thing that could’ve happened—we’re not even going to get a shot to respond. Toby now has over 200 yards on the day.

11:13 Notre Dame allows Gerhart to go in untouched giving Clausen one last chance to work his magic in a gold helmet. Stanford 45, Notre Dame 38.

11:15 Hot Carl: “That should’ve been our strategy all year.” Touche.

11:16 Whitaker bangs another one into the endzone for a touchback. He has more touchbacks tonight than our kickers have had all season. That’s truth, not a joke.

11:17 Clausen is sacked on first down. Who was responsible? Our right tackle who is starting his 50th consecutive game: Sam Young. He never even sniffed the defensive end before he was on Clausen. Fitting to say the least.


11:18 Right back to Tate for another big gain, first down at the 30.

11:19 Another throw to Tate for six yards and he’s out of bounds at the 24. This would be epic.

11:20 Clausen is sacked and they’re forced to spike it with seven seconds left. GODDAMMIT PAUL DUNCAN, NOT THE OPPORTUNE TIME TO GET TOOLED ON.

11:21 A Hail Mary pass directed at Duval Kamara (?!?) and Michael Floyd (Golden Tate was on the other side of the field…someone explain the thinking behind that…not like he’s caught a Hail Mary this year or anything) hits the turf as time expires and Stanford wins, 45-38. A heartbreaking end to the Charlie Weis era. Fitting that a former player buried us with poor field position thanks to a great kickoff and our all-time leader for consecutive starts Sam Young screwed up to put us in a deep hole with the game on the line.

11:22 Stanford was a 10 point favorite over a 6-5 Notre Dame team and rushed the field when they beat us. You’re right, we’re definitely an irrelevant program. Bob Ryan, go chew on a stick of lead.

God, I wish they could’ve found a way to win this for Charlie. You could just see the pure exasperation he was experiencing on that final drive, especially when he was calling for the spike after the last sack. I know the guy deserves to be fired, that he’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and that he’ll cry his way to the bank with his buyout when he’s fired…but my heart just broke for him as I watched the last minute of the game. He poured everything he had into the program and came up short. I guarantee there are a lot of tears in that locker room right now and a lot of players who feel personally responsible in some way for how things turned out. I feel like the guy just couldn’t catch a break when he needed one.

It’d be pointless to break this game down at length like we normally do. Obviously there will be bigger and more important things to focus on, things that will shape the future of our program. Real quick though I’ll list what stuck out to me:

1. Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate are two of the best players in Notre Dame history. It’s unfortunate that their efforts didn’t translate to something great. I know Jimmy is 99% out the door, but Golden please for the love of God think about coming back.
2. On the whole the offensive line played a fantastic game. We really controlled the line of scrimmage for the entire night and both Hughes and Theo averaged 5.7+ yards per carry. Great running by Hughes as well.
3. My lasting memory of Sam Young will be that first down play on the final drive. It just sums up his entire career perfectly.
4. Special teams buried us again. Stanford’s were stellar and ours were mediocre-to-poor. Our former third string kicker had more touchbacks in this game than our kickers had the entire season. Terrible.
5. The next coach needs to teach the defense how to tackle. Immediately.

Thank you for everything, Charlie. If it was possible for me to will you to succeed I promise you we would’ve been national champions this year. I apologize for the personal attacks people have lobbed at you over the past few months. You certainly didn’t deserve the unadulterated hate alleged “Notre Dame fans” professed over the course of the season. Any rational person can see that the lack of success was not due to a lack of effort or desire. Please handle this transition gracefully so that with time people will remember you as the man who laid a sound foundation for a return to the top. I wish you all the luck and success in the world in your future endeavors.

Go Irish.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Finally we have arrived at the final game of the Charlie Weis era. The last opponent will be the Stanford Cardinal, a young, up and coming outfit led by a coach whose star is on a meteoric rise. Vegas has the Cardinal listed as a ten point home favorite and most experts believe that they'll easily cover that spread. To think that at the beginning of this month we were talking about climbing back into the BCS. It just amazes me how rapid and violent this free-fall has been.

Since the start of the month Stanford has run through Oregon and then humiliated Southern Cal at the LA Coliseum. Running Back Toby Gerhart has slid in the backdoor of the Heisman conversation with his performances against marquee opponents this month (179 ypg, 6.2 ypc, 10 TD's). Tonight provides perhaps his best opportunity to stake a claim on a primetime national stage against a porous (to say the least) Irish run defense. Their stud freshman quarterback Andrew Luck (13 TD's, 4 INT's) has been no slouch either.

Will the Irish dig deep and win one last game for their embattled coach? Will Jim Harbaugh play the role that Jimmy Johnson played in Gerry Faust's final game as coach, running up the score as Notre Dame fans either turn the channel or cringe in horror? History suggests that there's a great chance for the latter than the former. Here's a list of the final game of each coach since Ara Parseghian's swan song victory over the Bear:

1981 - Dan Devine: Georgia 17, Notre Dame 10 (Sugar Bowl)
1985 - Gerry Faust: Miami 58, Notre Dame 7
1996 - Lou Holtz: Southern Cal 27, Notre Dame 20 (Overtime)
2001 - Bob Davie: Notre Dame 24, Purdue 18
2001 - George O'Leary: Resume 1, Real Life 0
2004 - Ty Willingham: Southern Cal 41, Notre Dame 10

Things aren't good whenever Bob Davie is the leader in the clubhouse.

Notre Dame absolutely can win this game. We have more talent than the Cardinal and a passing game that should be able to exploit their biggest weakness (the secondary). Will the team show up, perform to their potential (something they have not done all year), and play a complete game (ditto) en route to a victory? Unfortunately nothing in their body of work thus far suggests they will. The argument that they'll play their most inspired ball to send their coach out a winner isn't a legitimate one--they had an opportunity to possibly save his job against Pitt and played their worst/flattest game of the year.

I don't think tonight will be a replay of the '85 Miami Massacre, but sadly I wouldn't be totally shocked. I think that just like the rest of the year we sleepwalk through three quarters, lead a furious rally in the fourth, and once again come up a play or two short. Gerhart will have a great day, Harbaugh will make a snide comment that takes a shot at Notre Dame (leading to every ND fan--including myself--to say "he's a jackass, I never wanted him as coach anyway"), and Charlie will limp off the field a defeated man. At least he won't be serenaded in a derogatory manner by his own student body.

Breaks my heart to say it. Prove me wrong boys.

Stanford 31
Notre Dame 23

Friday, November 27, 2009

Let's Get Real

Alright, so in the past week I have avoided talking about last weekend. It's not really because we lost (after all, we'd done that four previous times and I'd talked), it's because I was at the game last Saturday and for the first time ever it wasn't a "magical" weekend. I came out to South Bend with my parents, Aunt, Uncle, and two little cousins (17 and 13)--the latter four had never experienced a Notre Dame football weekend. Real quick I'll recap it.

On the Pep Rally (or what they now call the "Pep Rally")

What an embarrassment. I had told my extended family they needed to get into town in time for the pep rally Friday evening because it was something everyone needed to experience. Instead of being held in the JACC like I was accustomed to it was held on the "Irish Green" behind DPAC. There were literally less than ten students there. There were only about 20 players there. Charlie Weis wasn't there.

Let me repeat: it was an absolute EMBARRASSMENT.

I understand the pep rally has gotten lamer and lamer, but last weekend hit a new low. In my four years I missed a pep rally only once (my freshman year because I was trying out for the golf team) and I watched it get worse and worse, but I kept going. You know why? Because I'll walk across campus every Friday afternoon just to listen to the band come into the JACC without fail. It was always one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend--to hear the drums lead and then one by one have the greatest band in the country pour into the arena. Now the entire thing has been catered toward little kids and families; it feels more like a carnival than a pep rally. It just made my stomach churn. I will never go to a pep rally again unless they change it. Let me tell you how to save it.

1. Have the host dorms do a skit to kick it off
We have funny people on campus...the host dorms (or one host dorm, who cares) put on one skit to kick of the pep rallies like it was in the '90's...make it funny, I have faith you can find people who can do it.
2. When the skit is done bring the band in
It's really awesome, just get right into the great part.
3. After the band comes in immediately bring out the team
That's what they were doing the past couple years.
4. Bring back the celebrities
The fact that you had someone like Wayne Gretzky or Carson Daly (both people I saw when I was younger and visiting) coming brought STUDENTS to the pep know, the people you SHOULD BE CATERING TO.
5. Have three or four speeches
A player, the celebrity, a former player if present, and the head coach
6. Wrap it up when they're done
It doesnt have to be an hour or 90 minutes, it can be 45...just make it worth going to again.

I hate to break it to the older alums but it's never going to be like the ones in the Fieldhouse or Stepan. If the students want to host one just for them once or twice a year I'm all for it, but as far as the main one goes let's just get it back to something worth going to because the format right now sure as hell isn't.

On the Game

The first thing that sticks out is the Sergio Brown late hit that shifted the momentum of the game. We were up 14-0 and about to get the ball back when Sergio took a bazooka, aimed it at our foot, and UNLOADED to turn the entire contest around. I don't care if he's running to Coach Weis's office at 11pm, 1am, or 4am to apologize, there is no excuse for how STUPID that play was and no way of understating how huge that was in contributing to the final result.

Another thing that I remember specifically was Michael Floyd's fumble. Get your head in the game and FOCUS Michael. That should've been a drive that ended with a touchdown; instead because of sheer carelessness it turned into just another debilitating redzone turnover for the Irish.

Last thing I remember all day was the terrible tackling. It's just another indictment of the Weis Regime--and frankly an even bigger indictment of Tenuta and Corwin. Bad enough to make yourself purge yourself after every defensive snap.

On the Student Section

I snuck in with my little cousin for the second half and I was totally embarrassed. Look, I understand this team and more specifically Charlie Weis has been a disappointment (to say the least). That is no excuse for raining down chants of "F&*% YOU CHARLIE" accompanied by middle fingers during the Overture of 1812 and at the end of the game. People have pointed out that it wasn't the "entire student section" and to say all of them were doing it is "ignorant," but I'm hear to tell you that at least a third of the student section was extending their middle fingers at the end of the game to salute Charlie during the final Overture. I hate to be someone standing on a pedestal and talking down because God knows I did plenty of stupid things in my years as a student (which was only two years ago), but goddammit that's absolutely inexcusable. I don't care if you're fueled by disappointment, Keystone Light, or unadulterated hate--there are NO viable excuses. You're an absolute EMBARRASSMENT TO THE SCHOOL if that's how you chose to express yourself.

I'm well aware this isn't the first time the student body has been an embarrassment. In '77--a national championship season--there were "Dump Devine" bumper stickers being handed out. One of my good friends from school told me that the most embarrassing and enraging moment of his four years was in 2003 when the freshmen and sophomore sections booed Carlyle Holiday (who was literally the teams entire offense during the "Return to Glory" year of 2002) off the field hoping that their fellow underclassman Brady Quinn would be inserted. Some times it's sad how the student body reacts, but it's reality.

Most of the time I hear stupidity and ignorance flowing in regards to Notre Dame on things like message boards I shrug it off saying "well they're fans but they're not alums or students of the University...they don't provide a true cross-section of what we're all about." Yet here I was in the senior section listening to people openly rooting for UConn in the 4th quarter (specifically it was a kid from my own beloved O'Neill Hall--let's call him T. Emptage for discretionary, that's too obvious...let's call him Tyler E.). When UConn scored their winning touchdown Tyler E. screamed with delight.

I don't give a dam who the head coach is or how much you love or hate him; if you are a Notre Dame student and you're blatantly and obnoxiously rooting against Notre Dame you should be ashamed of yourself...and more importantly you should never, ever, EVER in a million years have the GALL to stand there for the alma mater when the game is over. You can take a walk before it's played if that's how you feel about the school because if you're still present while the words "LOVE THEE NOTRE DAME" are being sung you sully the experience for every true Golden Domer. Tyler E., I hope you lost friends and that something happens in the second semester that prevents you from graduating.

To the student body: This is Notre Dame. Act like you're proud to be a part of it and conduct yourselves in a manner that would make alums proud to call you part of their family. The actions of a lot of people within the student section last weekend were disgraceful. I don't want to group everyone into what I just described because it absolutely was not the entire section. However, it was not just a handful of people so it deserves mentioning.

Overall it was an incredibly depressing end to the year and the entire Charlie Weis Regime. I hope all the people who are unloading these personal attacks against Coach Weis--including the student body--reevaluate their attitudes. Charlie has done a lot of good and worked his ass off. Unfortunately it didn't work out and it's time to move on. Show him the respect he deserves as a Notre Dame man.

How Things Change....

Notre Dame was a main topic of discussion on all the ESPN talking head shows four years ago this weekend but for an entirely different (and better) reason. Let's take one last look at the 2005 season and a great comeback victory to lock up an Irish BCS berth.

Things that stick out about the video:
1. What an unbelievable two minute drill.
2. Totally forgot how close special teams came to losing that game.
3. Great early call by Keith Jackson after the Stanford touchdown.
4. What happened to us running the quick slant like we did with Shark/Stovall?
5. Every time Bill Plaschke talks I want to throw a bowling ball at my television.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


It only took a shade under three months but I finally had a good week. Unfortunately it appears to be too little too late in terms of catching up with Miguel...unless he uncorks a nice little 0-10 week. Anyone that knows Mikey and his gambling history can confirm this is entirely possible. The fact that the movie 2012 came out the same season that he is 10 games above .500 picking college football games is no coincidence.

Also, on a quick side note, a congratulations to Bill who just became an Uncle for the first time. On to the Turkey Day picks!

Mattare's Lock of the Week: Navy (-8.5) over Hawaii

The #3 rushing team in the country meets the 103rd ranked rushing defense. How do you say "steamrolled" in Hawaiian?

Ilinois +21...I have no idea if he will end up being named Notre Dame's coach next week but I can't believe that Brian Kelly is totally focused on this game (see: Rodriguez, Rich in 2007 going into the Backyard Brawl).

West Virginia PK...The Mountaineers are the ones playing the spoiler this year.

Missouri -3.5...Kansas has totally folded up shop. The Tigers roll and send Mangino out with a big, juicy, delicious loss to chew on.

South Carolina +2.5...How many times have I said I'll never pick South Carolina again this season? Ol' Ball Coach, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Boston College -6...I feel dirty every time I pick BC, but the Terps are really, reeeeeally bad.

Notre Dame +10...Not saying we're going to win (I don't think we will), but looking at what's happened this entire year I don't think Stanford is 10 points better than us.

Rutgers -3...Louisville stinks and Kragthorpe is a lame duck. How the hell are they only three point dogs?

Virginia +16...This is going to play out a lot like last week. The 'Hoos won't really be in the game, but there are just too many points being thrown around in a rivalry game.

Texas -20...This used to be such a dangerous game for the Longhorns at Kyle Field. Unfortunately for A&M, their vaunted Wrecking Crew defenses of yesteryear are not taking the field today. This year's defensive outfit is ranked 110th against the pass and 100th in total defense. Texas sports the second ranked scoring offense and seventh ranked scoring defense. Blowout Central.

Mikey's Lock of the Week: South Carolina (+2.5) over Clemson

The Gamecocks are like Rodney Dangerfield- absolutely no respect. I am guaranteeing they pound Clemson on Saturday or we'll do the first official blog webcast featuring me eating my Xavier hat.

Colorado St. (-3)- I think the fans are going to have a rodeo after this game ends regardless of the outcome. Who cares about football in Wyoming??

Nebraska (-8)- Bo Pelini needs this win to get a decent bowl and keep his seat cool for the next season or two. Nebraska is definitely the superior team and I think they'll have a good showing in Boulder.

Pittsburgh (PK)- Got to love the backyard brawl. This year's edition is pretty huge and both teams are solid but I'll go with the team thats come so far this season and doesn't want to waste a BCS shot.

Boise St. (-10)- I haven't watched Nevada since Notre Dame trounced them in Week 1. Needless to say that's what I'm basing this pick on.

Mississippi St. (+7)- Ole Miss won their biggest game of the year last week beating LSU while Miss St. is still searching for something to make this season memorable. I think they get it on Saturday by taking down their rival.

Arizona (-2)- Still love the Cats even after losing that barn-burner with Oregon last weekend. Their offense is ridiculous when it's on and I think they'll bring everything they have to Phoenix this weekend.

Florida St. (+21)- I remember when Florida was always a dog in this game. Bobby Bowden probably doesn't but I think the Noles keep it relatively close on the field while Bowden connects the dots in his coloring book on the sidelines.

Miami (-1)- Can't believe this line is only 1. The U is light years ahead of South Florida on the football field and I think they show it on Saturday and end the regular season right.

Kansas (+3.5)- Todd Reesing deserves a good send off after the career he's had at Kansas. Missouri's good but I think the Jayhawks find one last, good game and pull out a victory.

Mattare: 54 points...(7-3 last week, 1-0 lock...47-57-6 overall, 7-3-1 lock)
Mikey: 66 points...(5-5 last week, 1-0 lock...59-49-1 overall, 7-4 lock)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bustin Out

Xavier has looked almost perfect in their 3-0 start thus far. Starting PG's Terrell Holloway and Mark Lyons have looked great running the show and Lyons has been a real scoring standout. Forwards Jamel McLean and Jason Love haven't let a rebound slip through their fingers yet and are looking like they can compete with any other down-low duo in the country. Jordan Crawford has officially announced his comeback with games of 14, 24 and 26 points coupled with some highlight defensive plays and a visible attitude that will hopefully reach the entire roster. New coach Chris Mack hasn't had to make many tough decisions as of yet but he's doing a great job of getting minutes for 11 players every night, something that will undoubtedly pay off in the future. If you can't tell yet, I'm pleased with the way the Musketeers performance so far, very pleased (how are we not ranked?).

This upcoming week/weekend is when the season really kicks off though. The Muskies travel to Orlando to take part in the Old Spice Classic, one of a million "preseason" tournaments and where X will finally catch some national attention. Being a fan of a smaller school like Xavier for many years has taught me one thing about tournaments like this: we need to win them more than anyone. It's hard for mid-majors to get shots at the Big 6 teams most of the time and they need to take advantage of them when they do. Xavier has done well in that respect over the past few seasons, taking down ranked teams like Memphis, Missouri, Villanova, and Indiana in preseason tournaments. These wins always help X's confidence early on as well as helping the Atlantic 10 not look so pitiful to the selection committee. Once again we have an opportunity to build a solid foundation for the rest of the schedule going forward while also helping our seed in March.

While I'm confident this is Xavier's tournament to lose, there are still some quality teams in the bracket. Let's look at some of them:


Key Players- G Mikhail Torrance, G Anthony Brock, F JaMychal Green

The Tide are stocked with talent on their roster this year, but are under direction of 1st year head coach Anthony Grant and trying to learn to play together in his new, up-tempo system. Grant coached at VCU for 3 years before coming to Alabama and was very successful there, reaching the NCAA tournament the past 2 seasons and even winning a game in 2008 (having Eric Maynor didn't hurt). Now he must learn how to handle having numerous stars on his team. Mikhail Torrance is a senior guard who can score in bunches and is the clear-cut leader of this squad. JaMychal Green and Anthony Brock are two other studs on the roster who can run and score quickly with Torrance, Green is also a former McDonald's All-American. Alabama certainly has enough weapons to win this thing and wouldn't play Xavier until the championship game so there's no reason they couldn't be tipping off against the Muskies on Sunday night.


Key Players- G LaceDarius Dunn, F/C Ekpe Udoh, G Tweety Carter

I've seen numerous Baylor games over the past few seasons and have always been entertained when they played. Their run-and-gun style is hectic and really puts pressure on the other team to adapt to it or be run out of the building. LaceDarius Dunn is the best player on the Bears roster and is averaging a staggering 25 points per game to start the season. PG Tweety Carter is just returning from a 4 game suspension to start the year but he's a speedster who can hit the 3 and has plenty of experience running this offense.Baylor's other key player is Ekpe Udoh, a transfer from Michigan who blocked 92 shots as a sophomore for the Wolverines and will try to continue his defensive prowess this season. The Bears can really put pressure on their opponents with their game style and, now that they're at full strength with Carter, have the ability to beat most teams in the country. Like Alabama, Baylor wouldn't have to face X until Sunday night in the title game so they have a good shot to win it if they can find some chemistry in their lineup.


Key Players- F Lazar Hayward, G Jimmy Butler

The Golden Eagles have a tough draw in the bracket, taking on Xavier in the first round on Thursday. Coach Buzz Williams lost a ton from last year's team (Jerel McNeal and Dominic James) and will be facing a tough schedule the entire way this season. One big piece Williams returns though is Lazar Hayward, a tough 6-6 forward who can score from inside and outside and will be counted on to lead this young Eagles team. Guard Jimmy Butler is another solid scorer for Marquette, averaging 17 points per game early on. Butler will have added responsibility in the backcourt as point guard Junior Cadougan was lost for the year with an Achilles injury and won't be able to assist handling the ball. Marquette is a solid program with great success over the past decade but are more than likely in for a rebuilding year this season in the Big East. Look for them to bow out early to the Muskies on Thursday.


Key Players- G Manny Harris, F DeShawn Sims

The Wolverines, currently ranked 15th in both polls, are poised to have a big year in the Big 10, building on last season's success where they made it to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. The main reasons for this excitement are guard Manny Harris and F DeShawn Sims, both top level talents who pose big matchup problems for opponents. Harris is a junior who has impressed his first 2 years at Michigan and is already averaging 21 points a game this season. Sims is a senior and one of the most versatile forwards in the country, scoring from all over the floor and making other forwards defend him away from the basket. Coach John Beilein has plenty of other pieces to compliment Harris and Sims and could easily take the Old Spice Classic trophy home to polish. A second round game with Xavier most likely looms and could be the best contest of the entire tournament, look for the winner of that to leave Orlando as the champ.

This is a solid field and the winner will definitely be tested throughout. Overall I think Xavier has the balance and gameplan to beat anyone they face and will ultimately win the tournament, but there's no reason they can't get knocked off in any round if they don't play well. I'm about to take off for Orlando to watch the action in person (and hit the links in between) so check out some of the tournament's games on ESPN and ESPN2 this weekend.Go Muskies!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A 10 Win Regular Season??

So Penn State goes 10-2 this season, and all year you've been hearing that I "Still don't know how good we are." Considering it's the end of the season, I'll finally sit down and try to make some sense of this team.


Safety Play

Drew Astorino looks like a bobble head on the field he's so small. Joe likes to talk about his instincts and the fact that he won the state high school basketball championship, but I care more about him getting trucked every time he makes a tackle and being helpless against anyone over 6"0. I've been critical of Nick Sukay this year as well, but there is hope for him, he seems to have some physical skills. He's 6'2" and was finally flying into plays full speed against Michigan State this past week. Sukay's problem this year has been knowing his assignments. If he works hard this offseason and stays in position next year I'll be happy, but I'd be disappointed if Drew Astorino doesn't lose his job to either Gerald Hodges or Derrick Thomas next year.

Home Losses

It has to be conceded that we were the lesser team in both home losses this season, but anyone could see that we didn't roll out our best performances when it really counted. Iowa springs to mind. We played terribly that night, couldn't block anyone, couldn't make throws, couldn't catch throws, couldn't find our tight end for some reason. Top that off with some uninspired play calling and you have a complete flop of a game, while Nittany Nation was hoping for a soaked-in-revenge beatdown. You need your team to show up for big games, otherwise your other 10 wins suddenly seem unimpressive.

Conservative Coaching

This could almost be filed under "Home Losses" because as usual, the most conservative coaching occurred in the two biggest games of the year. Taking the QB read option out of the playbook this year made Daryll Clark far less effective, it might have cost us a touchdown a game, but how do you measure a defense's tendencies against an offense with and without one single play? Study game film? I don't want to do that, this is a blog.


Jared Odrick

Our play at defensive end suffered more than I thought it would this year after the departure of Aaron Maybin. Considering he was drafted 10th overall maybe I should have suspected as much. Our ends lack the athleticism on one side in Eric Latimore and lack knowledge of the game on the other side in Jack Crawford, but it was tough to really see that all year because Jared Odrick was a BEAST. Every single play he was double teamed, and he still managed 6 sacks this year. Only Ohio State was really able to run the ball between the tackles on us, and I attribute 80% of that to Odrick. Best of luck in the NFL big fella.

Daryll Clark

I can't deny a guy who accounted for 30 touchdowns. He has yet to win a big game in my opinion, but his record as a starter is 21-4, and you could do a lot worse for a quarterback. With him we played to our potential 95% of the time, and we should never forget that Evan Royster and Stephfon Green each had costly fumbles against USC that negated drives, and Royster had a fumble AND a drop that went for a pick against Iowa this year. (Just unloading some blame in the spirit of singing DC's praises because I'm high on him right now after he torched Mich St and shut up the "My New Haircut" mofo in the Spartan jersey at the bar Saturday). With him we played to our potential 95% of the time. That Iowa game last year is the only time I've felt like we were the better team and still lost. Looking around the college football landscape this year and remembering not knowing if you were going to beat Indiana with Morelli really makes me appreciate that.

Chance for BCS Win

We still may land a BCS bowl, and I can't emphasize enough how much a win would do for us right now. It would rewrite some of Clark's history with big games, it would give the Big 10 an ounce of much needed clout, and it would save the season.


We are a good team. Top 15. Much more good than bad this year. Going into the bowl game I am actually confident. The one thing about dialing back the play calling all year is that we pull out all the stops in the bowl game, hence Joe's G.O.A.T bowl record.

Recruiting News

Marcus Lattimore loved us when he came to Happy Valley for the game against Ohio State. Gave the visit a 10 out of 10. If we can land him and maintain Silas Redd we'll have the best RB class in the country. Combine that with Kevin Newsome, who showed off his speed this year, and I think we will have the tools to run the Spread HD as it was meant to be run, with two running threats in the backfield every play and no more than 25 pass attempts per game. However, it's not all good news right now for the Lions, PSU commit Adrian Coxson is taking visits to Florida and Georgia, and when asked about the status of his current commitment to us, he said "I'd rather not say." Translation: we aren't even his leader right now. This is a problem, we have two other wideout commitments in this class, but they are both State College locals annnnnd I don't trust them at all.

Note to 70 Something Coaches:

This year Bowden was the target for "Should he be asked to leave the program or should we let him die out there" conversations, and before 2005 Joe heard his fair share of it. My two cents? Bowden and Paterno should be allowed to leave whenever they want, because neither is truly the head coach anymore, just figureheads. The media acts as if either is still responsible for the majority of what goes on with their teams. Simply not true. They've already taken a backseat people, just let them enjoy it. It made me feel bad for Bowden when I saw him wearing a headset the week after the allegations started flying around. As if he has to prove anything to anybody.


As I watch House and try to draw parallels between House and Cuddy's relationship and the one between Urban Meyer and Notre Dame (think about's a great way...I think), I thought I'd share this little nugget with you. This weekend at our tailgate we spent some time with a family friend who also happens to be close friends with Lou Holtz. He said Lou told him that if the University asked he would coach for two years at no salary while they figured out what to do long term.

Now as giddy as the thought of seeing Lou on the sidelines makes me, I realize this makes no sense right now for a couple reasons. First of all, it'd be a stopgap solution and what we need is a long-term answer. Knowing that Lou wouldn't be at the helm long would make recruiting nearly impossible. If the intention would be to transition to Skip I think I'd pass.

The bigger reason though is the fact that in his latest life as a television personality he's almost become a caricature. How can 18 to 21 year olds be expected to take the inspirational pep talks Lou is famous for seriously after seeing them as a borderline joke on ESPN the past few years? I think this move could've worked in 2001, but right now I just can't see players suddenly buying into Dr. Lou. In reality that's really all they know him for; they were barely alive the last time Holtz took the Irish to #1. Bringing him back would be like asking today's NFL players to follow John Madden into battle. The history books will show that both Lou and Madden deserve places on the pantheon of great coaches, but the generation they'd need to lead right now would have an impossible time trying to get over the coaches' television (or video game) personas.

I truly don't believe that the game has passed him by and I think he'd be incredibly effective in utilizing the immense talent that resides on our roster...but when he chose to go the route he has these past few years on ESPN it ended any chance of him finding his way back to the sidelines.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Dear Charlie" One Year Later

Last year in the hours following the Syracuse game I wrote an email and sent it out to everyone I knew that was a huge Notre Dame fan. It was a heartfelt letter to Charlie where I attempted to sort out the combination of confusion, disappointment, and digust as I digested the epic collapse against the Orange on Senior Day 2008. Eventually my buddy posted it on the Notre Dame Rivals site and it made the rounds to far more people than I ever imagined it would.

(Truth be told, it was what sparked my interest in writing/blogging.)

Here we are exactly 365 days from when I wrote that article. Again, we are mired in a tailspin only this time there doesn't seem to even be a glimmer of hope for Charlie as he heads to the West Coast for one last game. I felt it would be worth revisiting that piece. I knew that night that eventually we'd arrive where we are today...I had just hoped against hope I was somehow wrong.

Without further ado, this is the article "Dear Charlie" written 11/22/08...

You know what? I need to sit down and ask some questions, Charlie. I'm just so baffled that I feel the only way to sort out the quagmire between my ears is to ask questions and get answers from the man himself. The feeling I am experiencing right now is so confusing and depressing--but it's different than four years ago when everyone knew ND was a sinking ship under Willingham.

Why? Because under Willingham we had one good year where our victories seemingly were sent from God (it took us three games to score an offensive touchdown....we had defensive touchdowns and punt returns and Nick Setta's golden right foot to get us through) and when God had to pay attention to something else we stopped winning (or perhaps Ty's contract with the devil ironically expired as Boston College rolled into town with us ranked #3 in the country).

With you we were BRILLIANT offensively for a year. It wasn't just the personnel, your schemes were amazing. I vividly remember when Michigan State ran back that pick in your third game to make it a three touchdown game....what went through my mind was "there is plenty of time, we're going to come back."

Sure enough we did.

I remember going for it on 4th and 16 in that game with the utmost confidence that you drew up a play that would get us 17 yards.

Sure enough you did.

You brought cockiness and bravado to a campus lacking both. Our school had been beaten up, stepped on, disrespected, and unfairly crucified by the media--your brashness may have rubbed some people the wrong way but that's what we needed. We were sick of getting crap piled on us and we couldn't wait to embrace the "nasty" football team you promised to deliver. You were bringing with you a schematic advantage in every game. You were going to maximize the potential of every last player on the roster; after all, you didn't have many (if any) studs in New England and you made them champions right? I was so excited for this new era that I woke up at 6am to go welcome you to your first day on the job after the Super Bowl in the JACC. The spring game just three months later revealed a transformed offensive juggernaut. Through the snow and wind of a late-April South Bend blizzard Brady was calmly throwing 30-yard lasers to Rhema. I left Notre Dame Stadium that day knowing we were going to put points up on anybody lined up against us.

It culminated that fall on the Ides of October with your masterpiece against USC. Your offense controlled the ball keeping it out of Leinart's hands, drove the team down the field for a score to take the lead as the clock wound down, and came a play away from delivering one of the greatest victories in Notre Dame's illustrious history and cementing your place in Irish lore. In spite of being robbed of that "Notre Dame Moment" you directed us to the Fiesta Bowl, brought in a highly touted recruiting class, and the future seemed bright.

Now fast forward three years and here we are debating whether we should buy out your 10-year contract and move in another direction. I need to hear what happened from the man himself. Not this deflection garbage that you keep feeding the press. Your biography was called "No Excuses." You're very outspoken about how you're from Jersey and that Jersey people speak their mind and hand out their opinions and rub people the wrong way sometimes. Your ship is half underwater, it's time to offer up some answers.

Coach Weis, what's the difference between the first year and your last three? Have coaches adjusted that well to you or have you tried to be so crafty that you just outsmart yourself? You show flashes of it (like opening up the UNC game by throwing every down because there was something that you could take advantage of...shades of the BYU game in 2005) but every time we think you've turned a corner you get outcoached--something you said would NEVER happen. The list of coaches that have outcoached you this season alone (we won't even touch last year) are: Chuck Long, Dave Wannstadt, Jeff Jagodzinski, and Greg Robinson.

How is this possible? In 2005 you made Wannstadt look like a clown, toyed with Joe Tiller, and outclassed Pete Carroll. Now going back a little over a year you've: lost to two service academies (including one we hadn't lost to since you were seven years old), lost to Boston College twice (handily), had arguably the worst home loss in Notre Dame history against Syracuse, and were a fluke fumble away from losing to one of the worst Notre Dame opponents in history in the home opener. When someone at a press conference this year asked you about the cocky comments you made when you were hired you responded, "that was light years ago." You backpedaled pretty fast for a guy with shredded knee wearing a leg brace. What happened to that bravado, that swagger our team was supposed to feed off of?

Explain to me what you're telling recruits now. This was supposed to be the year you turned the corner--we weren't expecting a championship or even the BCS. We were expecting to see a young and talented team learning how to win with a couple bumps along the road. We had excused last season's abomination, we just wanted marked progress in preparation for (another) return to glory in 2009. Through six games you were right on schedule; the last five have left some Irish fans scratching their heads and many more to reach for the eject button.

Why can we not establish a run game against one of the worst run defenses in the country? Is it Coach Latina's fault? Is he a bad coach? Why are we totally unable to set up and run an effective screen after seeing it work so many times in 2005? Tell my why time and time again this team has come out of the gate looking like it's just overwhelmed and unprepared. If I were to describe in a word how your teams usually look coming out of the gate I'd say flat. If I were to sum up the running game in a word it'd be anemic. We have the horses in the trenches now--all four and five star recruits--why can't we develop them? Why is it that they underachieve so much? The defense has made exactly the strides we were looking for this year. It certainly isn't great but it's headed in the right direction and with help coming on the d-line we're poised to very good next year and beyond. Tell me why your offense--your baby, your M.O., your specialty, what got you this job and your reputation--has been reduced to a predictable, sloppy, poorly coached, and ineffective unit.

Off the football field you have alienated so many alumni that it makes people say "well he just doesn't understand what Notre Dame is about." But you're an alum, you HAVE to understand what this is all about. You went to school here--your arrogance can't blind you that much can it? I know personally a booster that you alienated after he hosted a golf tournament for your charity--not even for Notre Dame, for YOU. He said you were a jackass, totally ungracious, and acted like it was a complete hassle to be at an event you ASKED him to host. How do you explain treating your own like this? I realize you aren't the most personable guy but after hearing stories it almost sounds like you're schizophrenic. Are you schizophrenic?

I was one of your staunchest supporters Charlie—in fact I was the one who coined the phrase “Charlie’s Army” and donated money from those shirts to your charity. I have defended you against all critics and believed with all my heart that you were going to be the one that was finally going to deliver what a nation of diehard fans yearns for. No longer though. While I still hope that you will succeed I have reached a point where my confidence and faith is so shaken that I don't know how it can be repaired. Now when people offer criticisms all I will offer is a shoulder shrug. A borderline distraught Lou Holtz, probably your highest profile supporter on the national stage, said on ESPN after this latest loss that "the University of Notre Dame should demand excellence and the administration needs to decide if Charlie Weis is the person who will achieve that excellence. There is no reason Notre Dame should not be a top program." Tell me why I or any Notre Dame fan should believe you will be that person. Convince me you are not the second coming of Gerry Faust--or worse.

Beano Cook wrote an article after you beat Michigan in the second game of your career. He said, "Charlie Weis returning for the pep rally Friday night will be like Caesar's return to Rome." You're a smart guy Charlie, how did things work out for Caesar?

Unfortunately Coach Weis, no matter how hard I pull for you or how many people light candles for you at the Grotto it seems that we are headed for an inevitable day where the mob once and for all will turn. There will be a distinct difference between you and Julius Caesar though--instead of looking up at the betrayer, we the Notre Dame faithful will be looking down at him.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I’m writing this entry from the administrative offices of the Waterford Estates in lovely South Bend, IN. The wireless internet in the hotel is down and the people at the front desk graciously offered to let me use their personal desktop computer. I know, cool story Hansel.

Tomorrow our boys will take the field at Notre Dame Stadium for the last time in 2009. There's a very odd feel on campus. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Charlie will be gone but no one really knows who they (realistically) want to be the next coach. The pep rally—or at least what they now call the pep rally…I’ll devote an entire entry to how depressing that was though—had by my estimation literally less than ten students (excluding the band/cheerleaders) in attendance. Charlie Weis was not at the pep rally, which I believe may be the first time since we started doing the rallies the coach didn’t show up. There just wasn’t the buzz around campus that there usually is for a home football weekend. The palpable energy that electrified campus four falls ago simply no longer exists.

Will this have any effect on the team tomorrow? Will they be as flat as the masses seem to be? They better not be because UConn is far from a pushover. Notre Dame has lost their four games by a combined 18 points…UConn has lost their five games by a combined 15 points. The Huskies lost Donald Brown to the NFL Draft last year but continue to churn along averaging over 400 yards per game, including 168 on the ground.

Truth be told as disciplined a team as UConn is and in spite of the fact that it would be easy to predict Notre Dame just folding I just don’t think the Huskies can pull an upset. The biggest reason I believe that is our old friend (and former O'Neill Hall resident) Zach Frazer. Zach is a great guy and a nice kid, but he simply isn't a very good quarterback. He's been susceptible to making some really boneheaded decisions, a tendency that should be exploited by our (overly) aggressive defense. Their defense (and specifically their secondary) has been relatively weak and has not seen an offensive with the explosive ability the Irish team possesses. All week I thought this would go down to the wire just like every home game (except Nevada) has this year, but the more I examine the opposition the more I think we should cover the six point spread Vegas has pinned on the game.

I see this game being an ugly one in the first half where UConn hangs around and everyone in the stadium gets that “here we go again” feeling. As the third quarter closes we’ll find ourselves up by a touchdown but with UConn on the move in Irish territory. One last time Charlie will hear the Overture and unfortunately one last time he will hear boos raining down from the student section. The final quarter will belong to the Irish though, starting with a Frazer interception on the potentially game-tying drive. We’ll kick a field goal to make it a ten point lead and one last turnover by the former ND signal caller will ice the game for good in favor of the home team.

Unlike the players who graduated last year, Kyle McCarthy, Eric Olsen, and the rest of the seniors will get to enjoy their final lap in the Stadium. It’ll be a time to let the bittersweet emotions of four tumultuous years hit them and an opportunity to absorb every last moment of their time in The House that Rockne Built. It’s one last chance to soak in what it’s like to don the blue and gold.

I can only hope that Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate dig deep and find a way to send their seniors—and more than likely their head coach—off that field one last time a winner.

And I can only hope they'll both be back next year to make the lap themselves...


Notre Dame 27
UConn 17


I feel like Miguel Cotto getting tossed around like a rag doll by Manny Pacquiao. It was another brutal week and Mikey has just kicked it into overdrive to widen the gap to as big as it's been all year. I wish I had something funny or clever to say, but I'm just totally defeated.

Mattare’s Lock of the Week: Penn State (-3) over Michigan State

Sparty is not a very good team. I know, neither is Penn State, but they’ve got more than enough juice to take care of business in East Lansing.

Maryland +18…I mean I know Maryland is really bad, but Florida State shouldn’t be giving 18 points to anyone right now. The only exception would of course be BYU.

Texas Tech +6.5…Maybe—just MAYBE—if Oklahoma loses enough Bob Stoops will be our coach next year.

Indiana +3…I have met a staggering number of people who have not seen the movie Hoosiers. If you even remotely like sports that’s inexcusable.

Virginia +21…Al Groh is like Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. It seems like he’d dead in the water right now and Virginia boosters can’t be happier, but before you know it he’ll upset Clemson and Tech to save his job and set the process back another year.

Air Force +10…Because I can’t go a week without picking a service academy…and I still vividly remember the whooping the Criminoles gave BYU .

Arizona +6…The ‘Cats got caught looking ahead last week but I really think they give the Ducks a fight tomorrow night.

Texas -27.5…I hope that Texas drives the Jayhawks into the ground for being such sensitive cry babies. Every person who has come out and said Magino “verbally abused them” needs to go to Paris Island and learn how to bury those feelings and be a man.

Kansas State +16.5…Nebraska is good enough to give that many points.

Minnesota +10.5…Iowa stinks.

Mikey's Lock of the Week: Michigan (+12) over Ohio State

Got to love all those points in the biggest rivalry in college football. Michigan's at least talented enough to hang with the Buckeyes and it wouldn't surprise me if they got some calls and beat them outright.

Texas Tech (+5)- Oklahoma is the most inconsistent team in the country week to week. It seems like they only play hard at home to impress their fans and then go into hibernation on the road. I just want to hear Mike Leach's postgame speech either way, he's one of the top 10 comedians i the nation today.

Notre Dame (-6.5)- Yet again no reason to explain picking the Irish, just a glutton for punishment I guess.

TCU (-28)- This is a big line on the road but TCU knows they have to impress every week if they want a shot at the title. I think that motivation (along with Wyoming's terrible team) gives the Frogs the cover.

Indiana (+3.5)- Another Big 10 rivalry game this weekend. IU has got to pull out a win in one of these close games they keep playing and nothing would be more satisfying then closing their season with a win over Purdue.

Texas A&M (-7)- The Aggies can score in bunches, but only against bad defenses. Baylor definitely qualifies as a bad defense.

Fresno St. (-10)- Fresno has a ton of talent on their roster, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I don't think La Tech will stop them all night (unless they bring back Karl Malone to play linebacker) as they have to travel across the country for a conference game.

Oregon (-5)- Both teams have big rivalry games next week so this is a hard one to call. I still like the Ducks alot so I'll give them the edge in this one over a good Arizona team.

Oklahoma St. (-14)- This one will be over by half. Ok St. still has an explosive offense even without Dez Bryant and they'll show it off at home as they roll the Buffs.

South Florida (-10.5)- The Bulls are a much different team at home than they are on the road. They'll make up for that pounding at Rutgers by shutting out Louisville, who couldn't score if they played in the arena league.

Mattare: 46 points...(3-7 last week, 1-0 lock...40-54-6 overall, 6-3-1 lock)
Mikey: 60 points...(6-4 last week, 0-1 lock...54-44-1 overall, 6-4 lock)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Dudes, One Post...11/19/09

Well Billy thought his workload of .5 posts per week was a little too much so we gave him the week off. Mikey has graciously stepped in to do this week's dose of Two Dudes, One Post in his place.

1. Jim Harbaugh and Stanford dismantled Pete Carroll's USC Trojans this weekend 55-21, then rubbed it in Southern Cal's face by going for a 2pt conversion in an attempt to get to 50 points. What are your thoughts on the game, the 2pt conversion, and what it means for these two teams going forward?

Mattare: To say that this game is the beginning of the end for Southern Cal is short sighted, but it certainly puts a huge chink in their armor of invincibility. Harbaugh and his boys were out to prove the Oregon game was no fluke and did just that in laying the smackdown on the Trojans. In the here and now this game means that USC's season is toast and Pete Carroll has to figure out how to pick up the pieces during the offseason. It also means that as long as Jim Harbaugh is at Stanford they're going to be a force in the Pac-10. Right now he's wreaking havoc with mid-level talent and he's well on his way to infusing the team with the best recruits Palo Alto's seen since Bill Walsh prowled the sidelines in the early 90's. How long that lasts will be determined by whether Stanford can keep Captain Comeback from bolting to the NFL or a higher profile college job.

Now I wanted the 2pt conversion part of this question to get its own paragraph. I loved it, I absolutely loved it. David didn't just slay Goliath with one stone to the head--David went over to Goliath when he was on the ground, kicked him, then started beating him with Goliath's own hand while screaming "STOP HITTING YOURSELF, WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOURSELF?" Plenty will criticize and they're probably right, it was terrible sportsmanship...but one of the things I love most about sports (and specifically college sports) are bitter rivalries where the teams absolutely loathe each other. Harbaugh's "Eff You" conversion attempt will be like throwing jet fuel on a fire that barely existed on Southern Cal's end.

Mikey: USC-Stanford was by far my favorite game last week. When's the last time Stanford just smacked a top 10 conference opponent on the road? I'm not going to research it but I'll bet that it's never happened (and might not again). The 2 point conversion attempt was just them enjoying one of the finest games in team history on all fronts. USC has been doing that this whole decade to the Pac-10 and they have to learn to handle it just like every other team. That game just makes me wonder what the Cardinal could do to Notre Dame's D when they play.

For the future I don't think this game means much for USC. They know they have to rebuild their defense next year, but their offense will be fine and they'll be near the top again. For Stanford, though, this game is huge. It really shows the level that they've risen to in the past few seasons under Jim Harbaugh and will get them more national respect for future seasons. Also it will be big for recruiting because California is filled with high school football stars and this may help Harbaugh lure some away from USC and other top Pac 10 teams.

2. If the final three weeks go as people expect the three teams atop the BCS will be the winner of the SEC Championship, Texas, and TCU. Look at the resumes of Texas and TCU--does TCU have a legitimate argument that they should be the ones to get a crack at the championship?

Mattare: Absolutely they do. Texas has one good victory on their resume, a 41-14 victory over an Oklahoma State team that was missing its best player. TCU went to Clemson and won in Death Valley, went to BYU (the same team that beat Oklahoma) and destroyed them in Provo, then did the same thing to Utah. Is TCU a better team than Texas? I don't know, I think it'd be a pretty close contest in spite of the talent gap. The question isn't whether TCU should be in the championship though, it's whether they have a legitimate argument. The answer to that question without a doubt is yes.

This is a tough call. TCU doesn't have any argument against the winning SEC team no matter what happens, but when compared to Texas it can easily be debated that they deserve a title shot over the Horns. TCU's 3 best wins are at Clemson, at BYU and Utah; Texas' are Oklahoma, Texas Tech and at Oklahoma St. Those wins matched up against are really similar quality but what sways me to TCU's side is how they've been playing in their big games this year. BYU and Utah were by far the 2 biggest games for TCU and they won them by a combined 59 points, neither of them were close after the 1st quarter. In Texas' biggest game (Oklahoma) they looked terrible and almost got beat by a struggling Sooners squad without their best player. Good teams seperate themselves from other good teams by how they play when everything is on the line, and TCU has been extremely more impressive than Texas in that kind of situation.

3. Lane Kiffin and Rich Rodriguez have had turbulent years and this week contained definite low-lights for both. Kiffin is dealing with getting blown out by Ole Miss and the fact that three of his players have been charged with armed robbery. Rodriguez also got blown out last weekend and admitted to investigators this week that they didn't keep mandatory practice logs. Who is more likely ride out the storm and be successful?

Mattare: With each passing day it seems like Rich Rod is on his way out the door sooner rather than later. I think that Rodriguez is the better coach and if he were given time he'd be a huge success in Ann Arbor, but he's proven to be an absolutely terrible fit at Michigan. Right off the bat you could tell he didn't quite get the culture of such a big time school (telling boosters/fans they should get a life was a pretty terrible start) and once momentum got going the wrong direction its snowballed. He's legitimately two terrible ref calls that went in his favor from being 3-8.

Lane is a snarky, arrogant little bastard who everyone outside the state of Tennessee wants to see fall on his face, but he surrounded himself with a fantastic staff that includes one of the best recruiters in the country (Orgeron) and one of the best defensive coordinators in NFL history (his pops Monte). Assembling a good staff is one of the most important and sometimes underrated parts of becoming a successful coach in college football. For all the verbal diarrhea that's come out of Lane's mouth over the past year he's done a great job picking his coaches.

Mikey: This one's a no brainer: Rodriguez. Kiffin plays in (by far) the toughest, most talent-rich conference in the country that never has a down year. He has to compete with Florida, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, etc. for the same recruits and its going to be hard for him to convince them to come rebuild Tennessee when they can go to one of the top SEC teams and be an instant title contender. In the Big 10 bad teams win every week, but if you look at the winners of SEC conference games each week its almost always a quality team. Kiffin's got a huge hill to climb and if he has to suffer another incident like the armed robbery it could be over for him soon.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, plays in a conference with only 2 consistently good programs (Ohio St., Penn St.) and changes order every year. We already see that he can recruit top talent to come to Michigan and with a few seasons to coach his guys there's no reason he can't compete for a Big Ten title every year (its not that hard). He'll be judged big by how he does against Ohio St. but fans will give him at least a couple seasons to start judging him solely on that. Rodriguez has already put up with cheating allegations too so I imagine he'll find a way to squirm out of this one and land on his feet much easier than Kiffin will with his situation.

4. Let's just pretend for a minute that the current top 16 teams in the AP poll were thrown into a bracket for a playoff and all games were played on neutral fields. Which of the eight underdogs (teams ranked #9-16) would be the most dangerous team with best chance to go deep in the tournament?

Mattare: The trendy pick would probably be Stanford but I'd take Oregon. Yes, I know that the Ducks just got run all over by the Cardinal, but I think that the Stanford debacle was a combination of Stanford having two weeks to prepare and the emotional low that follows stomping Southern Cal (Stanford, you should note this). If they were to meet again (entirely possible since their seeds would be #11 and #14) on a neutral field I think Oregon comes out on top. Who really wants to take on the duo of Jeremiah Masoli and LeMichael James on a neutral field?

Mikey: I like Oregon more than any of the other teams from 9-16. The Ducks are still playing great football and have an offense that can't be stopped by almost any D in the nation right now. Their loss at Stanford is looking much better because of the way they're playing, and (unlike USC) they were on the road and at least competitive in the game. The Boise St. loss was just an early season hiccup and I guarantee if the Broncos came to Eugene it would not be the same game we saw in September. With all the weapons they have and the way they've played against good teams its easy to see that Oregon could challenge any team in the country on a given night.

5. The Nittanys only have one game left in the season while the Irish have a pair. Pick the bowl you'd like to land in and your ideal opponent.

Notre Dame should just stay home unless the new coach can come in and coach the bowl game. There comes a point where you just want to cut losses and file the season away as a failure. I've reached that point. If we have to go to a bowl I'd like the Gator Bowl against Miami. That way I'll have extra incentive to drag myself out of bed by noon on New Year's Day and Miami's secondary is bad enough that we'd have a shot.

Mikey: I think Penn St. will get invited to the BCS but will opt out and play in the Capital One bowl because its in the afternoon and Joe Pa likes to be in bed by 4:30. Notre Dame should go to the Brut Sun bowl because Brut may never sponsor a bowl again and there's no way you want to miss out on that chance.


Mattare: Kansas coach Mark Mangino is under fire for "grabbing, yelling, and poking a player" who was laughing during a practice...explain to me why Magino is in trouble and this player isn't being called out as a pansy?

Mikey: I heard Mangino threw BBQ sauce on the kid's leg and tried to take a bite out of him. Gotta sympathize with the student, that's traumatic.

Mikey: The Heisman Race is a currently a complete toss-up. Name a dark horse with a real shot at winning.

Mattare: Toby Gerhart. He's a beast and will have ND's Swiss Cheese D to make a case on national TV Thanksgiving weekend. Worst-Heisman-Race-Ever.

Mattare: Tony Dungy is now mentoring the New Mexico coach who decked his staff member. Is he in line to become the next Dr. Phil or the next Dalai Lama?

Mikey: Dungy's prime to become the next Lama. He's already short, scrawny, bald, and has that hippie "Free Tibet" bumper sticker. Put it on the board.

Mikey: We like two of the worst teams in pro football--the Skins and the Bears. Who you got in that matchup?

Mattare: HAIL TO THE REDSKINS, especially if it's a night game. You gave to regret trading in Sexy Rexy for this prissy wannabe Jay Cutler.

Mattare: Now that you're officially part of the blog you have the chance to explain for yourself the events of that summer night where you beat Billy like a drum in basketball. Please recap your memories of that ass whooping.

Mikey: Fresh off some spaghetti pie I was feeling like Larry Bird. I drained two in Billy's eye & became King of Schnecksville while Billy wept in his car.

Mikey: The 24 hour college basketball marathon really got the season started right yesterday. Who's your pick to cut down the nets this spring?

Mattare: Just picked up the College BBall Bible (Blue Ribbon Preview), haven't had a chance to study it in detail. A hunch: Coach K strikes back.