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NDNation.com Staff: Scott Engler - Michael Cash - John Vannie - Mike Coffey - Kayo - Bacchus

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Fitting End

posted by John Vannie
The Charlie Weis era came to a close at Stanford on Saturday evening in a manner that highlighted his shortcomings as a head coach. The Notre Dame defense, which Weis could never elevate to a respectable level of performance in his five year tenure, was instructed to allow the Cardinal to score the winning touchdown in a desperate attempt to get the ball back to his offense. The move did not work as time ran out on the Irish in a 45-38 defeat.

Notre Dame led by 24-13 in the first half on the strength of Jimmy Clausen's passes to Golden tate and Michael Floyd, but Stanford kept pounding Notre Dame with a relentless ground game led by Toby Gerhart. The Cardinal finally caught the Irish at 38 with nine minutes left in the game when Gerhart threw a wobbly scoring pass to Ryan Whalen and Stanford successfully executed a two point conversion.

The Irish offense could not sustain a drive on the next possession and punted to the Cardinal 28 with six minutes left. Gerhart took over and willed his way through Irish tacklers until he reached the Notre Dame four yard line with a minute remaining. When Weis realized that Stanford could run out the clock and score the winning points without fear of reprisal, he ordered his defense to let Gerhart walk into the end zone on the next play.

Clausen took over deep in his own end with 59 seconds on the clock, but the last gasp comeback died when his offensive tackles gave up untimely sacks as they have throughout the season. The Irish fell to 6-6 for the year, which is an outcome that even the most pessimistic fans had not predicted.

A press conference announcing Weis' departure is a mere formality at this point. The embattled head coach avoided the media before and after the game, but expressed confidence to friends and colleagues that he would land on his feet with another coaching position (probably as an offensive assistant in the NFL).

Notre Dame fans are more concerned about the second press conference that is yet unscheduled. This will take place when a new coach is ready to be introduced, and speculation has been running rampant since the loss to Navy on November 7. Bob Stoops and Brian Kelly are the names most frequently mentioned, but I would not be surprised if another dark horse candidate emerges as the designated savior.

Let's hope that Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick and the Notre Dame administration have a better plan than the Hail Mary pass that fell harmlessly to the ground as the Charlie Weis era came to a merciful end.
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Blogger AJG Jr. said...

why did weis wait to pull out all the stops on offense until he knew he was going to be fired?? (wildcat reverse QB pass, 3rd and 2 clausen stutter step backwards pass to riddick for 30+ yards, throwing downfield repeatedly all game, etc)

11/29/2009 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with AJG Jr. The Irish offensive game was mostly great yesterday. Why why why? was the question the whole time I watched. Notre Dame could have driven the opposition crazy all season with plays like this. The fans on both sides got their money's worth at Stanford's fine new stadium.

11/29/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a football stadium full of fans,most of whom were on the edge of the their seats, because Notre Dame with the ball deep in their side of the field and 59 seconds, and they were terrified that the Irish would score. I congraulate a team that can create that fear.
I saw a bonded Notre Dame team offense and defense make a heroic effort to win and I wait Notre Dames decision for our footall program and will continue to be a Notre Dame fan for the rest of my life.

11/29/2009 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given how awful our defense was, I think it was a miracle that we won six games this year. Without Tate, we probably would have won only two. Let's hope the new coach can convince both JC and GT to return next year.

11/29/2009 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a fleeting thought after the wildcat throw to Floyd that Weis' strategy had been to fail miserably at running the wildcat offense all season to catch Stanford off guard and set up that play in the season finale. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

11/29/2009 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Why can't ND demote Weis to offensive coordinator/recruiter and bring in a solid head coach? I think it's absurd to pay $18 million dollars and get nothing in return. I heard Ty recently finished receiving payments on his buy-out clause.

11/29/2009 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

d hasn't stopped anybody anytime all year. face it, it was the only tactic left.

11/29/2009 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice, UNPREDICTABLE play calling last night. When ND's offense comes with their "A' game they are formidable to say the least. The defense, well that's another story. They have some highly recruited athletes, so maybe it's just scheme. The story for the past several years: WAY TOO MANY YARDS AFTER CONTACT. Harrison Smith made a really nice "stick", on a receiver near the sideline; but it looked like he could've had a "pick six" if he'd "jumped the ball" instead. Just a thought.

11/29/2009 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son (ND soph) and I were in Stanford Stadium as well, and I agree with the above. The ND offense was spectacular, exciting, fun, and even the Stanford fans near us were sort of hoping for overtime just to see more.
Despite John Vannie's really negative pre-game comments (and I wish he would appreciate the fact that these players never quit on this game or season) his insights are unfortunately correct - the defensive flaws (and let us add, the offense's inability to pick up one or two yards on the ground in the clutch, namely that last 3rd and 2) did us in, not only for the game but it would appear the Weis era.
Which is sad and too bad. CW's great recruiting, the 95% graduation rate, the sheer excitement of his offenses at their best, have all brought the program up a notch or two. Wish he could have brought the whole package. But back in 2005 there were not a bunch of "Tier 1 coaches" beating down the doors. I hope that's not the case this time around.

11/29/2009 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one question: When was the last time a ND running back "broke off" a 70+ yard TD run? Seriously, does anyone know? Go Irish?

11/29/2009 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how many watching the Stanford/ND games notice the Stanford defenders entensionaly contacting and interfering our recievers. Their gain?, prevention of a touchdown, the penalty? 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. Review of many of Notre games will show that this technique was used often by our opponets because it prevented a possible touchdown, and in many cases the penalty was not called and there was no punisment. Notre Dame pass defense was victim of these long pass completions and never applied this aggressive defense technique. Why?. Was it ever considered?.

11/29/2009 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from being disgusted with Charlie Weis and his coaching style and his appearance for some time not to mention his lack of player development, lack of disciplined players and coaches, lack of a cohesive well rounded team (offense, defense, special teams), poor gameplanning and preparation and 'one-sided' recruiting strategy, etc., I am equally disturbed by the actions of our AD - Jack Swarbrick. I thought it was a one-time ocurrance when I personally witnessed him holding his wife's hand and having his children on the sidelines 45-minutes prior to the MSU game while 'hob nobbing' and taking family photos with actor Vince Vaughan but, after seeing him again standing on the sidelines with his wife and boys, it really convinced me we not only don't have the right guy coaching our team school, but we also lack having the right guy who will ultimately have to replace him and take ND athletics to the next level. If Jack was hoping to have ABC's cameras show him on national TV, then he achieved but fell short of having wishfully getting Brent and Herb to interview him live during the game. Further, when I recently read in the NY Times that Jack proclaimed - 'he thought he had arrived' after seeing a sign in the student section that read 'sack Jack' after the Connecticut embarrassment, I became convinced this guy should be fired as well and doesn't get it either. The job should not bet about him but, about understanding the importance and role of 'caretaking' the university's athletic department to get to the next level. Further convincing was seeing him hugging and embracing Jimmy Clausen at mid field last night after the game much, like he was seen following the Purdue game. Like owners in the NFL, AD's do not belong on the sidelines. They should be in the corporate suites or press box hosting Board Of Trustees, donors and corporate sponsors.

What is further 'tell tale' that he is not the right man for the job is our just recently filling our three scheduling holes in 2010 with Tulsa, WMU and UTAH and not yet filling three additional scheduling holes in 2011? Isn't this one the most important responsibilities of the AD? Further, these schools do little to enhance our BCS 'power Ratings'?

I am not very confident in this regime getting us out of the doldrums which in the month of November has shown these results:

*a 2nd loss to Navy at home in 3 years
* a loss to Connecticut who has been a D 1 football program for 7-8 years
*21 losses in football in 3 years
*a basketball schedule which includes the scheduling of the following teams played:

11/06/09 vs. Quincy # Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center W, 75-54
11/14/09 vs. North Florida Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center W, 86-65
11/16/09 vs. Saint Francis (PA) Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center W, 95-72
11/19/09 vs. Long Beach State Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center W, 82-62
Chicago Invitational Challenge
11/22/09 vs. Liberty Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center W, 91-72
11/24/09 vs. Kennesaw State Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center W, 80-62

Against their first 'so called legitimate opponent' to date, Mike Brey and his squad lost Friday night to Northwestern in 72-58.

Jack has a lot of work to do and no doubt should be less concerned about getting TV time and spending more time in the office which I understand he does little of since he commutes to and from South Bend to Indianapolis Friday's and Monday's of each week to be with this family. This AD position is too important for someone not fully embrace and engage the responsibilities and while I can appreciate the family situation, he and Fr. Jenkins should have thought about this prior to offering the job. What does it tell you when the AD cannot move his family to the South Bend and be there full-time. More of the same results is my guess.

11/29/2009 04:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Irish Sting said...

So how do you like that Hope and Change? I hope we get a complete Coach instead of only half a loaf. Someone who will develope both lines for a complete team.

The recruits deserve the best coaches that are out there. This team was good on paper but not on the field. As for Charlie,go do what you are best at. Good Luck and Good Wishes.

My vote is for Brian Kelly, Go Irish

11/29/2009 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get Butch Davis

11/29/2009 05:40:00 PM  
OpenID deadmonywalking said...

Aside from the Supreme Court, people generally don't take demotions instead of leaving

11/29/2009 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Why is no one mentioning Tommy Tuberville? I think he might be the best available name out there and you don't have to worry about competing with a good situation like Meyer w/ Florida or Stoops w/ Oklahoma. He's got the defensive background ND should be looking for and he's a proven winner. I think he could walk in tomorrow and succeed.

11/29/2009 08:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

brian kelly is not the answer his defense at cinci is just as bad as ours

11/29/2009 08:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuberville is average at best. That's why he was fired at Auburn.

11/29/2009 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If all of you think this will be easy; to find a coach who can be successful at ND in a short period of time, you will be sorely disappointed. There is no quick answer to this---if there were---we'd be a lot better now. Say what you will...another change is bad for Notre Dame. Unless NBC is involved here, and is insisting on a change, I would keep Weis and give him the 10 years he signed for. If the next guy wins 8 games in his second season, will we call that success? 7 games? The fifteen year average is about 7 wins--think it over. We can be great again, but it will take time. Somebody wrote that B Kelly's defense at UC is as bad as ours--that it true. Not the right move. Al

11/29/2009 08:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicholas.....I feel the same way. Charlie is a great recruiter and great OC but he lacks the big picture. If he loves ND as much as he says he does, does not want to up root Hannah from their foundation and does not want to go back to the grind of the NFL (and never see his family), then step back and allow a true HEAD coach to come in and steer the ship. To give him a huge payout and start from scratch seems silly. Oh, not to mention the fact that when he goes, so does Jimmy and subsequently Golden. I hate the drama surrounding the program

11/29/2009 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for the ND offense, the defense has been just awful, poor reads, not filling gaps, and can not tackle anyone. Can't we find any safeties better than that?

Is 28's last name - Toast?

With a average defense, we win 9

Hopefully the new coach brings a needed focus on defensive skills.
CW showed incredible class but I think Tenuta is his downfall

11/29/2009 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous odieholtz said...

With his attitude, does anyone here really think that Weis would accept a demotion? It sounds good in theory, but an ego like that could never be accepting of the idea. I hope he does well in the NFL. He is a great OC.

As for Tuberville, if you are not from the south or keep up with the SEC (I qualify on both counts) he was an excellent coach that led Auburn to an undefeated season, but didn't get to play for a national title. He was ran out on a rail by the AD at Auburn just because htey wanted to make a change. Does anyone here remember the Auburn/Bobby Petrino incident a few years ago?

I think Bob Stoops is the guy we need. Great recruiter with a defensive mind. We certainly need to put the "D" back in ND.

I am sure Brian Kelley is a great coach, but I feel like we have had enough "offesive genius" coaching to last us for many years.

GO Irish!!!

11/29/2009 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike- i concur with you regarding tuberville. my old man and i discussed him at length last year, prompting me to do a little digging on his career and i must say that i came away even more impressed. unfortunately i don't have those stats now, but not only is his overall winning percentage very good, his stats against winning teams and teams that finished in the top ten was amazing. he has been a proven winner everywhere and if i remember correctly has won two national championships as a d-coordinator and was chosen as sec coach of the year at two different schools (i could be wrong-this is coming from memory).
he was axed at auburn for one reason: his offense, or lack thereof. much like firing slocum at texas a&m, they are going to look back on that decision and second guess themselves.
imo he should be on the list and get a call. period.

11/30/2009 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

following the ineptitude of the davie/willingham era's, how long did people honestly think this turnaround could be completed? hmm bout 5-7 years. were right on course here. the head coach (and oc) was not the problem here, which is obvious. yes we should bring in a coach, but not a head coach, a dc. romeo, tuberville, or hand the reigns back to corwin brown. like it was mentioned earlier, with an average defense we easily win 9 games, and the inevitable mistakes such as fumbles, deflected interceptions, and drops wouldn't prove to be so fatal. the offense (with a poor offensive line) had to play flawless football every snap this year for nd to win 9 games, lets get a new dc. go irish.

11/30/2009 12:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Irish Sting said...

Brian Kelly is being slammed for not having any better defense than ND. Well look up the facts, he lost 10 out of 11 players on defense from 2008 and his team is undefeated. They have some improvement to go yes, but I'll take his record over ND any day.

Urban Meyer according to your thinking was from the minor leagues but he has done just fine at the major college level.

Brians the Man and yes he Can.

11/30/2009 12:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about John Gruden no one has even mentioned his name as the new head coach. He could be the savior that ND football needs. He was a good coach when he was coaching, I do not think that he's ahppy doing Mon nite football.

11/30/2009 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about something that used to be done everywhere...slow down and appoint a search committee and NOT jump at the first pretty face (ie. Kelley) that comes along. I hope the 2nd news conference is weeks away and we get a well thought out choice that will fit all of the criteria for a successful ND Head Coach. No mopre trainees or rookies, they don;t work at ND.

11/30/2009 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Charlie Strong of Florida? He's a great defensive coach who is strong on fundamentals.

11/30/2009 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger eddieman said...

I agree with Nicholas as well and the anonymous who feels the same way as Nicholas. CW is an ND guy, loves the Universtity and is a darn good OC. JS must run this scenario by the new head coach.

11/30/2009 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger eddieman said...

How about retaining CW as OC and hire a defensive minded head coach such as Stoops or Schiano. Check out Rutgers football grad. rate. Quite impressive.

11/30/2009 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets see, the last two predecessors with different class of recruited players still all end up with the same win/loss percentage.

Maybe it is time for something other then the head coach and players to be changed.

11/30/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, let me say I'm no fan of the mess that ND football has become and I agree that changes need to be made. However, given the "coaching carousel" that ND has become, why would a big name, successful coach leave a secure (Meyer/Florida, Stoops/Oklahoma, Kelly/Cincy, etc.) job to head to ND? Sure, it's a "dream job" for some, but unfortunately it's not the marquee position it once was and if there is no or minimal success within a relatively short time span, you get run out of town on a rail. How long did it take for the program to sink to this level? Why would a high profile coach want to spend all his time looking over his shoulder rather than focusing on what they were brought in to do -- coach and win football games? Sorry...I just don't see it happening.

Instead, it's time for everyone to face the fact that the ND football problems are not just coaching issues (although that's the current target of the finger pointing), it's the overall management of the athletic program. Somebody needs to look at the organization from top to bottom and get it straightened out so that the right coach, big name or not, can be recruited and hired...Prime example of incompetence and mis-management: What fool offers a ten year extension to a new (and unproven) coach who has less than a year on the job? Now it looks like Charlie is out and the ND faithful will end up footing the bill for the balance of his contract. Oh yeah...we also get to pay a new coach some exhorbitant sum to get him to come in and try to right the ship.

Remember, incompetent bosses keep blaming and firing otherwise competent employees in order to save their own skins. And that doesn't mean I don't think Weis is competent or shouldn't be fired...just food for thought.

11/30/2009 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the concern that at the end, Weis let Stanford score so our offense had some time? It was the only call that gave us a realistic chance to win. The mistake was Stanford not running the clock down, taking a couple of knees if it had to, and then kicking a field goal from inside the five - no more than an extra point. As it was, ND's offense got the ball with a minute left and got it down inside the 30 with nearly 30 seconds left. Had it not been for the second sack of the drive, we might have scored. If Stanford had managed the clock better, ND would never have gotten the ball back.

11/30/2009 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Good Luck Chuck said...

Huffpo just posted that Charlie was fired.

11/30/2009 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the talk of Charlie's firing being too expensive, that they shouldn't have given that extension so soon, etc., etc. is foolish palaver. Money is not an issue here, as the total amount is an infinitesmal fraction of ND's endowment, and the royalties from an upswing in ratings and paraphernalia/apparel sales (to say nothing of alum donations) more than justifies both the original risk and the final determination that it didn't work out. People need to stop viewing those multiple millions of dollars through the lens of their personal economies or as if ND was a one-horse town or something. ND is the equivalent of a multi-billion dollar corporation, with football being a major aspect of its finances; it simultaneously can afford whatever it deems best even as it cannot afford NOT to spend this kind of money in the process of purging and rebuilding.

The problem with Davies and Willingham was that they were a manifestation of the Malloy approach to things, as contrasted with the Hesburgh approach that hired Ara, Devine, and (just before Fr. Ted stepped down) Lou Holtz. But just as Fr. Ted made an honest mistake with Faust, so Jenkins--fresh in his position and with White at the helm--made a mistake with Charlie. But ND insiders should "get it" that the DNA of that decision was fundamentally different than the two previous coaching calls made by Malloy. And above all, we shouldn't buy the nonsense everyone else spews, that ND is on a 20 year funk or something, pretending like only externals have changed and the only internal is ND's academics. A BIG internal changed with Jenkins, and now Swarbrick.

We still might blow it in this choice, but let's have some intelligence as we break down what has happened, and what will likely happen.

11/30/2009 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bob Stoops and Brian Kelly are the names most frequently mentioned, but I would not be surprised if another dark horse candidate emerges as the designated savior."

Stoops has repeatedly said he's not leaving Oklahoma.

Brian Kelly should be the guy because he is simply a winner.
Only Notre Dame could fail to recognize it, but it's clear from Swarbrick's comments they intend to hire a guy with defensive street credentials.

I don't know who that guy is, but I can assure you one thing. If they fail to hire Kelly, we will back in the same place we were with Davie, Willingham and Weis.
All the Davie, Willingham and Weis apologists can become apologists for the new guy.

12/01/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What about John Gruden no one has even mentioned his name as the new head coach."

Chuckie and all the other NFL has beens (Billick, et al.) haven't recruited in years, can't relate to college kids and know little or nothing about the Notre Dame value proposition.

The only former NFL coach who has the sort of values Notre Dame used to espouse - before it became a secular institution - is Tony Dungy and he's not interested in returning to coaching.

12/01/2009 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous ultimatetweaker said...

Perhaps a "fitting end" however yet another sad ending to a "series of mediocre and poorly vetted coaching hires." - The question remains - without them creating a proper coaching environment, is there really a "right hire" for Notre Dame? - Maybe it's time for them to bail out of the BCS in favor of taking a leadership role as a "champion" of the smaller conferences. Not that they shouldn't seriously consider joining the Big Ten where some of the pressures of nationwide recruiting and selective scheduling confronting any coach might be removed. Instead, the past few years of their "arrogant independence" has cost them respect throughout the football world, and has added to an ever growing society of Notre Dame "haters." - In creating a proper "coaching environment" they need to do much damage repair. Championing the underdog conferences and scheduling the likes of what are becoming increasingly powerful teams like Boise State, Utah, TCU, Houston, and yes - even Central Florida might be a path toward re-inventing themselves. Merely hiring a high profile coach at high cost is not the answer. - To gain more insight on this subject, I suggest you make a free visit to www.ultimatetweaker.com - You will also find referenced there a book entitled "Prelude to The Playoff." - It is controversial and will not be recommended reading by either the BCS nor Notre Dame - because it tells it like it is!

12/01/2009 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Irish Sting said...

For all the Kelly Brian non-believers, check out Pat Forde's ESPN article, Kelly the right fit for Notre Dame. For those of you who says he lacks defensive skills try losing 10 of 11 defensive starters and yet come back with an undefeated season. Try losing, not one or two but three QB's and still win with your fourth. This year he lost his starting QB again and plugs in a backup and does not lose a beat. He has won at all levels he has coached at and is good with the alumni and adminstration.

However, if Notre Dame does not want him we here in Cincinnati know what a jewel we have.

12/01/2009 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weis is lucky to have lasted 5 years, at the beginning everybody said the problem was the lack of talent Willingham left. I might be wrong but wasn't that Weis's best years, and when he got his own recruits his record wasn't as good.
Just food for thought.

12/01/2009 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, Mike, talk to us, will ya?

12/02/2009 01:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Ric said...

I believe Charlie actually had Bob Davies' 4th and 5th year DEFENSIVE recruits to start with. Any thoughts on David Cutcliffe at Duke? O coordinator and Head coach in SEC before Duke. Some success at an academic school. Last successful Duke coach did pretty well at Florida.

12/02/2009 09:32:00 PM  

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