Follow by Email

Inspirational Reads

That Was a Close One

September 25, 2007

You guys almost lost me the other night. It was pretty hit-or-miss for a while.

I went to meet up with a student for a little organic chemistry jam session where we'd be rocking out the instrumental analysis before moving on to organometallics. After sitting at Barnes & Noble for an hour and a half (after an hour, I decided to leave, but I was almost finished with the Get Fuzzy book I was reading...yeah, I'm one of those customers), I drove home. Since radio here sucks, I decided to turn on the sportstalk station. For whatever reason, the Fox Sports channel (which is in Raleigh...where my car was at the time) wasn't coming in, so I switched to the ESPN affiliate out of Durham. I caught it right before the break and they said "What's wrong with Irish football? We discuss, coming up next."

Because I'm a masochist when it comes to this stuff (for instance, I've watched the games this year), I decided to listen. And that's when it happened.

Someone on ESPN said good things about Notre Dame football. Someone trotted out the facts, and made good arguments as to state of ND football.

My heart just about burst right there. I was weaving and everything. I told Elizabeth that I was coming home. It was a shock, to say the least.

This coming on the heels of this dumbass' article in the IndyStar last week (link). You'll notice (somewhere around comment 65) someone vainly trying to edumicate the ND haters (which would most likely be mostly Purdue fans, given that it's Indianapolis) and the author of the article. As an aside, this article did garner Kelly Green's Asshat of the Week award (link).

The truth in the matter is this: Willingham left the cupboard bare, and Charlie dropped the ball getting his o-line ready. No one can argue (although, for some reason, Keyshawn Johnson on MNF preview did) that Willingham was a better recruiter than Weis. Don't quote me on this, but Willingham's recruiting classes were ranked something like 15, 45 & 50. The higher class was mostly built by Bob Davie who, though inept, did manage to cobble together some good defenses (which is how Willingham escaped Notre Dame with anything close to a winning record). Weis' classes have been 12, 3, 1 and projected 1 for next year (and from what I've read, looking good for 2009, too).

Further, Willingham went to the bowl and the Gator Bowl. Weis has gone to the Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl (both BCS bowls). Brady Quinn became a first round draft pick under Weis. Jeff Samardzija became a top flight receiver under Weis. Neither were truly recruited by Willingham; Quinn was an afterthought while Willingham was recruiting Chinedum Ndukwe (they were high school team mates...the coach for the team told Willingham "You might want to look at Brady at QB.") and Paul Manieri recruited Samardzija for baseball.

The biggest glaring issue is on the offensive line, where Willingham picked up five recruits in three years. Well, there's 5 guys on the line, right (Center, left and right guard, left and right tackle), so what's the issue? In an ideal world, you recruit a new line for each class, that way if something happens and a player gets hurt, there's someone there to fill the void. That can't be done right now, and it shows.

This is not to excuse Weis from no focusing on fundamentals in blocking and tackling. He's admitted it himself that he's been too gimicky on the offense, trying to get inside the opponent's heads. When they got back to handling the basics, things began to look up. While the Michigan State game did not have the desired outcome, you could see that there was a lot of good things that finally were shaping up. Again, the offense was on the field for too short of a time, tiring the defense and also putting them in lousy position to hold off the Spartan attack. Special teams were, again, abysmal. I don't know what's happened to Jeff Price. He had one good kick and then...meh.

It was finally nice, though, to hear someone at the four-letter word saying a nice thing about ND (and not be a certain leprechaun-esque former coach) and actually take off the blinders and point out Willingham's shortcomings. It really helped to talk me down off the ledge. Now all I need is a bucket for the Purdue game.


Hap said...

The local sports station was talking (sanely) about Notre Dame - while they weren't approving, they seemed to sympathize with ND. The OSU announcer who does their games on radio thought that Weis's manner was a significant factor as to the schadenfreude over ND's record - the smugness he perceived from Weis would make it easier for people to pile on when he loses, and given the difficulty of their schedule, ND was going to lose.

I think it's taken for granted that Weis is a really good coach, and while that may be true, his team isn't playing as if it were. The valuation may be another reason people are happy to pile on ND - the valuation may be accurate in the long run, but it doesn't appear to be so if your team is fundamentally unsound.

Chemgeek said...

Glad we didn't lose you for real.

I'm as amazed ESPN said nice things about ND.

From my perspective, being 0-4 is the result of many things that can and will be fixed or will improve.

Seriously, ND is NOT that bad.