Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering: "Are We There Yet?" Edition

For the second consecutive year, I am anxiously awaiting the end of Notre Dame's season. At this point, I am ready to passively accept the seven-touchdown throttling that the Irish will receive on Saturday and get on with my life. This season has sucked. With that in mind, the great Subway Domer hosts this week's Irish Blogger Gathering.

1. Regardless of what you may have heard and what may happen, what do you think should be the fate of Charlie Weis? Please give an explanation in detail along with a possible replacement if you said...FIRED. No Urban Meyer bullshit here. He's not coming. Get over it.

I am sure this isn't a totally original position, but I think you give Charlie one more year. If, with a veteran group of top-flight athletes at his disposal, Weis can't get the Irish to a Top-10 finish, he needs to go. Who replaces him? While, certainly, the Urban Meyers of the world aren't coming to South Bend, there should be a solid enough nucleus of talent in place to entice a decent up-and-comer. Here's my top three (assuming they're all still available):
  • Skip Holtz (East Carolina): When East Carolina got off to a hot start, ND Nation was abuzz with the prospect of Holtz coming to Notre Dame. Then, after a tough three-game stretch, that buzz wore off. Why? He's young (44). He's a Notre Dame alum (not that that's been a big help with Charlie, but whatever). And, he's currently 7-4 coaching a team with a ton less talent than the Irish have. To me, this should be a no-brainer. Holtz would be a welcome shot-in-the-arm and, I think, a worthy successor to his father's legacy at the school.
  • Jim Grobe (Wake Forest): He has managed to make a perennial winner out of Wake Forest. Let that thought sink in for a second. Plus, it would appear that Grobe is ready for his next step. He started at Ohio U., then stepped up to Wake Forest and now, after seven seasons, it may be time to him to jump to the big-time.
  • Jim Leavitt (South Florida): Another guy who may be ready for a bigger opportunity. During his time at USF, Leavitt has literally created a program out of nothing and compiled a 79-47 record over 11 seasons. While he has turned down offers from schools like Alabama, Kansas State and Miami in the past, the time could be right for the Irish.
Is Notre Dame ready to win one for the Skipper?

2. Recruiting. Colin Cowherd has been murdering the recruiting services and Notre Dame. He thinks that the recruiting services rank Irish recruits higher than what they should be because of a marketing plan. Everyone else on the outside is falling in line with this thought. What are your opinions? Please explain and provide a solution.
Colin Cowherd is, in my humble opinion, yet another of ESPN's no-talent, infotainment talking heads who enjoys nothing more than prattling on about topics he doesn't remotely understand. How's this for marketing? ESPN also has a recruiting service and, lo and behold, of all the national services, they ranked Notre Dame's 2008 class the lowest. What Colin is really saying here is, "I am a bland corporate shill who is denigrating other recruiting services so that the rankings put out by my home office overlords are given maximum exposure and respect." Here's my solution - turn the dial and save yourself a few brain cells.
3. I made a comparison in a poorly written post about this team mirroring the 2004 team. I generally don't like doing comparisons to other years, but I felt it was valid. What is your take? Is the 2008 version of ND like the 2004 team, and do you think the 2009 team could have similar results to the team in 2005?
I actually read Subway Domer's post about the similarities between the 2004 and 2008 teams and, far from being poorly written, I thought it was pretty insightful. The post is here. If you haven't already done so, give it a read. I'll wait. As for my opinion, I actually think this team is, in a lot of ways, better than the 2004 team. Keep in mind, the 2003 team had gone 5-7 (the 2004 squad finished 6-6), so there wasn't a whole lot of improvement from one year to the next. They were basically the same team both years. Say what you will, this team has shown that it absolutely has the ability to significantly improve during an offseason. What's more, I think, Jimmy and his receivers are, developmentally, in a much better spot than Brady and Co. were in 2004. On the defensive side, the coaching is much better and, I think, the potential exists for this unit to be dominant in ways the 2005 team never was. Of course, we will have to wait until next season to see if any of this actually plays out on the field, but it is, at least, some cause for optimism.
4. Is Michael Floyd the Notre Dame team MVP? Why? If not, who then?
I have to admit, I've decided to take some liberties with my answer. Frankly, I don't believe that any of the players are this season's MVP. I think it's the Irish fanbase. We have been through a tremendous amount over the last decade, but never have things been more bleak than these past two seasons. As Notre Dame fans, we have endured awful, heartbreaking, soul-crushing games and have kept coming back. In spite of snarky comments, calls for coach's heads and the occasional thrown snowball, this is a committed group who love their team and desperately want to see them win. While the team may have quit, the fans haven't. That deserves something.

C'mon, does anyone have better fans?

5. What is Notre Dame's biggest problem schematically and mentally?

Lack of killer instinct. While there will always be questionable calls during the course of the year, on the whole, the schemes employed by the coaches are fine. Were they executed properly, Notre Dame would probably be somewhere between 9-2 and undefeated right now. No, the problem is this team lacks killer instinct. They don't want to kick the everliving shit out of their opponent. Players should absolutely want to destroy the team they're playing. Sadly, this team is lazy, complacent and, frankly, pussified. They need to find some balls during the offseason or 2009 is going to be just as miserable as the last two years.
The cat gets it, why can't Notre Dame?
6. Notre Dame is a 30-point underdog to U$C. It's safe to say that none of us thought that ND would ever be that big of an underdog in this rivalry game. Your thoughts and please include a prediction for the game.
Here's the scary part - I don't think USC will have a problem covering. Pete and the Trojans are going to make their last, desperate attempt to be part of the BCS discussion and, there's no better way to do that, than by laying waste to a hated rival. This game is going to get ugly, very quickly. Like, the firebombing of Dresden ugly. I say, 52-3, Trojans. There was already a gap in talent and experience, and now Notre Dame is also playing without any heart or emotion. This has all the makings of the worst loss in series history. God, I hate this season.
A survivor surveys the wreckage of the Golden Dome as the 2008 season draws to a close.


Martin said...

How is it that Weis can post the worst record in school history and anyone suggest he get not one but two more years? 2008 was his make-up year and he has yet again created a new level in signature loss. THE GUY CAN'T COACH. He is a strategy guy, not a motivator. The "One more year" crowd has a recurring theme: if he just had slightly better/experienced talent, things would be different. And if you just gave me better paints, I'd be Picasso, right?

Jay-A said...

Martin - Perhaps I should have pointed out that I don't love, or even like, the idea of giving Weis one more year but, at this point, it's likely the best of several bad options. Afterall, who's coming to take the job if you get rid of Weis right now? Have any feelers even been extended? Beyond that, what are you going to do for a recruiting class when half your 2009's decommit in the wake of that decision? Also, just for historical accuracy, while the 2007 team was one of the worst in school history, their three wins still surpassed the 1956 (2-8), 1960 (2-8) and 1963 (2-7) teams.

Dekom said...

I see your point, Jay, but Necessity is the mother of a brand new coach.

Grab a mop, a broom, and one of these guys:

Urban Meyer, UF. It was love once...and a repeat customer is your easiest sale. And if there is a promotion from a top tier program like UF, it's ND.

Brian Kelley, Cincy. Good record and won't put nearly so much stress on an office chair.

Mike Leach, TTech. ND is stocked w WR's but has trouble getting yards on a treadmill. So let's use the best offensive scheme for what we got.

Jeff Jagdssdcbcjdcvy, BC. Seems to enjoy beating ND.

Paul Johnson, GTech. Just turned water into wine at Tech, after walking on same at Navy.