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Archive for Monday, December 19, 2011

Memory of Charlie Weis: No ‘D’

New Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis talks at his inaugural
news conference. Weis was hired Dec. 13 in South Bend, Ind., to
replace the fired Tyrone Willingham.

New Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis talks at his inaugural news conference. Weis was hired Dec. 13 in South Bend, Ind., to replace the fired Tyrone Willingham.

December 19, 2011

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The pressure of Charlie Weis’ new job certainly will be a relief.

I witnessed his first season at Notre Dame from the bleachers. I attended nine games that season, but one sticks out.

In 2005, Pete Carroll and USC came to South Bend, ESPN “GameDay” set up shop on the quad in front of Touchdown Jesus, and the Irish and Trojans played one of the greatest games in a rivalry that dates back to 1926.

Before the 3-9 season in 2007, the program’s worst ever in many ways — the utter failure on defense in the fourth quarter game after game, the losses to Navy, the loss to hapless Syracuse in 2008, consecutive losses to the academies — before all that, Weis and Notre Dame nearly dethroned Carroll and the Trojans in the midst of the greatest part of USC’s run.

I distinctly remember after yet another inspiring 80-yard drive organized by Weis and orchestrated by his student, Brady Quinn, to put Notre Dame ahead 31-28 with 2:04 remaining that there was only one way USC could win: an epic defensive collapse by the Irish. Through the clouded remains of all the brain cells destroyed that day, I had that thought.

It was a bad thought, because, of course, it materialized.

A sack on second-and-10 of Matt Leinart for a nine-yard loss put USC back on its 16-yard line with 1:44 left. A complete pass for 10 yards to Reggie Bush made it fourth-and-nine with 1:32 left.

We all thought the game was over.

But Leinart dropped back and lofted the ball to Dwayne Jarrett up the east sideline, and Jarrett caught the ball at his knees. Jarrett went 61 yards to the Notre Dame 13. Bush then did most of the work on two carries and pushed Leinart for the final yard with three seconds left, and USC won, 34-31.

Weis’ highlight in five years at Notre Dame was the loss to USC. Then, following the 2005 season, Ohio State drubbed Notre Dame in all the major statistical categories in the Fiesta Bowl and won, 34-20.

Still, the Notre Dame base was riding high going into 2006. At the Blue and Gold spring game that year after the 2005 season, Joe Montana and Tim Brown came back to be on the sidelines for a practice game because Charlie asked them to. The tradition was alive and well because Charlie rallied the army. Everyone was on board.

But things went downhill from there. The 2006 season, though highlighted by 10 wins to compliment the nine of 2005, included three results which clearly kept Notre Dame from the ranks of the nation’s top teams, a 41-17 loss to Michigan, 44-24 loss to USC and a 41-14 setback to LSU in the Sugar Bowl.

The defense experienced new lows in 2007, with consecutive losses to Navy and Air Force, in which Notre Dame gave up 46 and 41.

In 2008 losses to North Carolina, Pittsburgh, USC and, most embarrassingly, Syracuse, the defense could not be depended on.

In four losses to end the overall decline that was his career at Notre Dame, Weis’ defenses could not withstand Navy, Pitt, UConn and Stanford.

And I should have known it in 2005. No fan in Weis’ tenure believed Notre Dame was going to win at the end of a game, not when the other team had the ball.

Comments

rtwngr 2 years, 8 months ago

Funny, that's what I will remember about Turner Gill.

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jaywalker 2 years, 8 months ago

You have a selective memory, Mr. Witherspoon, or you don't know football very well. Go back and look at that pass from Leinart to Jarrett; that wasn't the result of an "epic defensive collapse", it was just an absolutely perfect pass. I remember that game vividly, it was great. And while ND's D did spiral downhill after that, that drive is not a solid precursor to your point.

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DocPossum 2 years, 8 months ago

Someone with "Wither" in their name should know a lot about declines. What is your point? Yes it is a fact that ND's defense went down hill. Early it was a lack of getting defensive recruits to sign..............but in the end Charlie signed, Teo, Lewis-Moore, Johnson, Fleming, Smith, Filer, etc Not exactly chopped liver. His recruiting plugged a hole, he did not get to enjoy. The problem with the ND defense during his tenure was caused by the lack of consistency in having three different defensive coordinators. CW stated this during his introduction. Once the DC is hired, Charlie will let that person fill out KU's staff. The DC is an important hire as that is how you win games. Chemistry will be better as it will be one defensive philosophy, not three.

In the meantime, with Charlie you don't have to worry about KU's offense. Sit back and enjoy the transition. It will likely take several seasons until you get the whole package in place. But in the meantime KU has at least been spotted on the football map, instead of as the training ground for coaches stepping up to Liberty U.

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DocPossum 2 years, 8 months ago

Someone with "Wither" in their name should know a lot about declines. What is your point? Yes it is a fact that ND's defense went down hill. Early it was a lack of getting defensive recruits to sign..............but in the end Charlie signed, Teo, Lewis-Moore, Johnson, Fleming, Smith, Filer, etc Not exactly chopped liver. His recruiting plugged a hole, he did not get to enjoy. The problem with the ND defense during his tenure was caused by the lack of consistency in having three different defensive coordinators. CW stated this during his introduction. Once the DC is hired, Charlie will let that person fill out KU's staff. The DC is an important hire as that is how you win games. Chemistry will be better as it will be one defensive philosophy, not three.

In the meantime, with Charlie you don't have to worry about KU's offense. Sit back and enjoy the transition. It will likely take several seasons until you get the whole package in place. But in the meantime KU has at least been spotted on the football map, instead of being know as the training ground for coaches stepping up to Liberty U.

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2002 2 years, 8 months ago

This is the worst, most poorly written sports page article that I have ever seen in the LJW. Quite an accomplishment.

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oleballcoach05 2 years, 8 months ago

It's great how optimistic all the KU football fans are about Coach Weis. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Coach Weis was FIRED at Notre Dame??? Coach Weis is a GREAT coordinator, but as a head coach, his reputation took a huge hit. He was 35-27 in his 5 years at Notre Dame, including 16-21 in his last three years. This record came at a school with unlimited football resources and its own national tv network for recruiting. How's he going to succeed at a school like KU?

As much as we all want to bash Coach Gill, people forget he was picking up the pieces of a disaster that Coach Mangino left. In Mangino's last year, KU was 1-7 in the Big 12 including losing their last 8 of 9 games. So it wasn't like the cupboards were full of talent.

Let's try to keep things in perspective.

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jaywalker 2 years, 8 months ago

" This record came at a school with unlimited football resources and its own national tv network for recruiting."

So what? ND has had that forever but it hasn't translated to anything for a couple decades now.
If you wanna get perspective, consider Weis and the hoopla surrounding his signing w/ ND; now consider the man is the coach of the Jayhawks. At the very least, having someone with that much clout and prestige running the program is an awesome feature, and something we've never really had before. Coaching is important in college football, but recruiting is the biggest factor. I believe Gill lured 2 or 3 4-star prospects. With Weis it's reasonable to believe he'll be bringing in more than that every year along w/ some 5-stars.
There's no reason not be optimistic.

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oleballcoach05 2 years, 8 months ago

Thank you for making my point. With all the "hoopla" surrounding Coach Weis's hire at Notre Dame, the program consistenly got worse every year. One can argue that during his first two years at Notre Dame, he wasn't playing with the kids HE recruited. Those were kids that Coach Willingham recruited. Then when his kids got in the program, all these so-called "5-star" prospects, his program finished below .500 twice. Because you can bring in a "5-star" athlete, doesn't always translate into wins. There's a guy down the road in Manhattan that's doing it without any headliners.

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Jayhawk1958 2 years, 8 months ago

Then why are you here then? This is A KU message board in case you have forgotten.

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jaywalker 2 years, 8 months ago

Keep believin' Snyder doesn't get headliners. Two of his backs are starring in the NFL, along w/ a number of others.
And I'm bettin' Weis missed on a couple recruits, meaning they didn't pan out the way everyone thought they would. Shiitake mushrooms happen.
And in what universe did I prove your point??! All you blathered was that Weis might have won w/ someone else's players. Gee, nobody's ever said that about any coach before. Well done.

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Jayhawk1958 2 years, 8 months ago

Put this in perspective: Except for Lou Holtz, there hasn't been a successful coach at ND since Ara Parsengin(sp?). Do your homework before spewing nonsense.

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martyks 2 years, 8 months ago

ND handicapped themselves over the years, refusing to give in to procedures that other universities see as normal. Training table meals after practices, for example, which are everywhere, were not at ND until Kelly came in and insisted on having them. Requirements for academics were outrageous also. ND turned down several great prospects because they had not taken certain subjects (such as calculus) in high school. No consideration was given to their abilities to take and pass the courses in college. To say ND has had old school thinking would be a gross understatement. Still, Charlie seemed to recruit very well at ND. The thing he never proved to do was to develop players who he brought there. Anyone can argue that point, but they should know enough to quietly shut up and accept the fact after the other side has won the argument when they say two words: Sam Young. Players never seemed to improve or to be in shape. Fourth quarters under Charlie were a disaster. Zone blocking, while it works in the NFL, doesn't seem to work so well at the college level, and yet, Charlie insisted on using it. The defensive side of the ball was pathetic, in spite of a few top rated recruits. Weis talks as smoothly as a snake oil salesman or a lawyer. The disquieting thing about it all is, one gets the feeling that, after spewing out his schpiel, the words that would seem most appropriate would be: "The defense rests."

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FlintHawk 2 years, 8 months ago

OK. I admit it. I'm totally confused. I click on Witherspoon's name and learn that he is a "Copy Editor." Not a reporter. Not a blogger. Not a columnist. Then I click on the link to see his other stories. This is his only story for the LJW.

Why is a copy editor writing a story (opinion piece?) about our new coach? And why would he write an article that is totally negative about Coach Weis? (Unless I missed some exculpatory language)

Why do we need this at a time when we all want to rally 'round our our football program, when we want to be hopeful about the future?

I have no beef with Tom Keegan, but I wonder why he let this one through. A copy editor? Really? What are this guy's credential? I.am.ticked.

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FlintHawk 2 years, 8 months ago

P.S. The worst thing is, it's my birthday. Nice present, WitherEDspoon.

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