(The Rock Report) – Notre Dame has lost four of its last six games and will likely finish this season by losing five out of its last seven (2-5); this following a horrendous 3-9 campaign last year.
We’re in historically bad waters.
I just read Charlie’s defense of this season where he rationalized our current poor season by comparing it to last year’s season. And as the main “perpetuater” of theories as to why not to rush to judgment on Weis, I can say with no doubt in my mind that they do not hold water anymore.
They held up thinly after the Pittsburgh loss.
The debacle in Boston blew them all to hell.
The loss to a two-win Syracuse team has brought us to a low not seen in either Willingham or Davie’s careers. No coach has ever lost to an eight loss team before.
You can’t blame this on lack of talent or age anymore. Our offensive line, collectively, is almost three full seasons through their careers. Our quarterback is now a veteran as are our running backs and wide receivers.
This team is all grown up and excusing a loss to a two win Syracuse team based on the premise that this team “just doesn’t know how to win” is plain stupid at this point.
It’s the coaching.
I started the argument about how Notre Dame had gone up double digits on every team but two this year, so let me end it. It had meaning only as it compared to last season, meaning it differentiated this team from last season and demonstrated progress. But that’s only valid for the first part of the season. At this point, comparisons to last year are irrelevant except that for the fact that Notre Dame is actually performing worse now than it did last season as the same point. We were winning against the Syracuses (Duke) of the world last season.
After four years, as I wrote after BC, Charlie is still throwing darts and he’s losing this team and the fans.
Let’s look at this one level down.
Our offense is more disappointing than our defense right now. How has Weis handled it?
Appointing Haywood as play caller was a horrible move. Haywood, under Weis, was a glorified running backs coach. Weis didn’t give him the reigns, but gave him a set of parameters to call plays. Given how Weis’s offense has worked since mid 2005, I can’t see how he thought this would work.
I was also perplexed when our linemen all beefed up considerably in the off-season. I understand we were weak, but how can you run screens and pulls with slow linemen? When Charlie said we were going to “pound it,” at least I though we were going in the right direction. We didn’t and still can’t even against bad teams. His offense has proven easy to figure out or at least befuddle. Our offensive line still can’t block (and hasn’t been able to since 2005) and now Clausen looks inconsistent.
I have no idea what would work on offense for this team, but it’s clear that Charlie doesn’t either. And this is his specialty.
Moving Polian to special teams (after a disastrous year coaching the linebackers) where he had no experience was puzzling (except that Charlie promised to take responsibility.) To give credit, we’ve seen some progress here to be sure.
On defense, more puzzling strategery. A year after firing Minter and hiring Brown, Weis effectively brought in Tenuta over the head of Brown. So we’re running a third new defense in less than two years.
In other words, every facet of the game is in some sort of disarray and Charlie is absolutely clueless how to fix it.
And what’s more tortuous than anything is watching Charlie try to motivate this team. He purportedly used to motivate by threatening players draft status, now he’s tried to become a player’s coach who wants his team to show personality.
Again, clueless. Throwing darts.
Charlie tried. He made his bucket list and went after it, but trying isn’t working… at all.
Talking hasn’t worked either and Charlie’s proven himself a bit of an exaggerator, which is fine if you back it up. We haven’t.
We listen to Charlie talk about “pounding the ball” only to send our linemen off square dancing. He talks about toughness and nasty, yet Notre Dame continually loses the battle in the trenches. He talked about “putting 50” up on the board, but we’re still a pedestrian offense. He talked about 6-5 not being good enough, yet we’re 6-5 heading to 6-6.
“Charlie ball” hasn’t worked well since 2005.
We’ve waited four years for Charlie to figure this out and he just doesn’t know and worse, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. On top of that, Weis’s demeanor and public actions alienated the ND fan base from the start making his internal support non-existent. Why a coach making Weis’s money would pursue a public lawsuit for 600k is puzzling to me as was the decision to do “60 minutes.” Regardless, Weis has become a lame duck now. He won’t have support even if he wins at a good level. He has to win at a great level to keep support and that’s not going to happen. Weis made some poor decisions out of the blocks and now we’re faced with a tough decision.
It’s one that has to be swift but sure.
Here’s why it has to be done now.
A debacle against USC will surely result in lost players from this recruiting class, which is a borderline top 10 class as is. Notre Dame probably won’t get any more big name recruits at this point.
Looking to next season, Notre Dame is positioned for the top class in the country, but more foundering after these last two seasons will surely kill next year’s class as well.
And then we’ll be at square one with back to back poor classes that will send Notre Dame back down the chutes and ladders four years from now. You can’t have back to back bad classes at Notre Dame without setting the program back and that’s where we’re headed again.
So here’s the decision criteria: You have to have high confidence that Charlie will win big next season (and I mean 80% confidence) or you have to, in good conscience, change him out now so a new coach can save this year’s class and build next year’s.
No rational person can have 80% confidence after watching this team against BC and Syracuse.
In other words, it’s not a decision, it’s an imperative. There can be no waiting to “see if he works out.”
Charlie has to step aside and Notre Dame needs to find a homerun; someone who’s done it before. In executive recruiting for 300k jobs, it’s essential that you find someone who’s actually done the pieces of the job you’re recruiting for. No one hires a high level executive without checking the right boxes. Yet at Notre Dame, with a head coach position worth 10x that, we still are hiring offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators and coaches that haven’t proven themselves.
Such willful negligence would be grounds for removing the board in many companies. In fact, most companies.
To be sure, it’s worked for some schools, but that’s more by luck than design. Bama, Texas, Oklahoma and USC all floundered around before getting wheel of fortune to work.
Weis can leave with a lot of money and the knowledge that he’s got this team on the right track as far as talent goes.
Notre Dame needs someone who knows what they’re doing.
The players deserve it. They didn’t come here for this.
Tradition demands it.
On the job training is over.
Notre Dame has made some strong administrative moves of late, now it must make a hard, but right choice to finally put this team back on the path to greatness. I’m not advocating ND firing Weis without a plan (that’s how we got here) but we need to plan for a change ASAP and make the move when the time is right.
~ The Rock