Sunday, September 30, 2007

Goin' Back to Miami

I've written about odious comparisons before, and by the tone both in comments here and posts on NDN, the philosophy of going back to the previous coaching regime when discussing the current problems is wearing thin. I certainly understand that, and am probably reaching the saturation point on that myself. A wise man somewhere on the Internet said the current talent may explain that we're losing but doesn't explain how we're losing, and I see a goodly amount of truth in that. And the good news is next year, CW will have three fourths of the team as his players, so we can finally put the cupboard-bare conversations to bed.

Having said that, however, I'd like to try to get one more bucket out of that well.

Kayo, the co-author of Weis Cracks, is a smarter, more analytical person than I, and I've always copped freely to it (and can do so because I still have youth and good looks on my side). He and I have discussed what I call his "Miami theory" often, and he recently started posting on it on NDN. Because posts tend to be ephemeral, I wanted to make sure it was summarized and saved somewhere less temporary. So I've lent him the keyboard for this entry to talk about the parallels between ND of 2007 and the Miami team of 10 years ago. While it's not an iron-clad comparison, I find it thought-provoking at the very least.

Kayo, take it away.

My numbers may not be perfect, but they’re at least close…

When the NCAA penalized Miami in 1995 after the Pell Grant scandal and other illegal payments, they lost 24 scholarships over the next two years, knocking them down to 61 scholarships overall. That was the second harshest penalty the NCAA has ever levied after the SMU death penalty.

When Weis arrived, he inherited only 68 scholarship players. Now there are only eight scholarship players in the current senior class and 13 in the junior class. Had ND’s roster size been an NCAA penalty, it would have been the third harshest ever levied.

Except for Brady Quinn, the few players Miami was able to recruit were much better than those ND had in those two recruiting classes. Miami still attracted classes full of four- and five-star players who were recruited by other major programs, just not large classes of four- and five-star players.

The two classes preceding Weis' arrival lacked both quantity and quality, featuring few four- and five-star players. According to Tom Lemming in a South Bend Tribune article more than a year ago, “it looked like the staff at that time was resigned to battling Georgia Tech, Stanford, and Northwestern for players instead of going after the great ones.” Lemming also said, "The fact is that [these] last two classes were horrible and one more class like that would have been disastrous. Notre Dame would not have rebounded for years."

Butch Davis took the Miami program after the sanctions were levied and won eight games in each of his first two seasons. Then the scholarship reductions came home to roost, and Miami went 5-6 in Davis' third year, with the five wins against lowly teams.

The Hurricanes did not beat one team the caliber of the five Notre Dame has played so far this year. They started 1-4 in 1997, opening with a victory over Baylor (2-9 in 1997). They lost three in a row to Arizona State (9-3), Pittsburgh (6-6), and West Virginia (7-5). Then they were pummeled 47-0 by a good Florida State team (10-2). Miami rallied for three wins over poor teams - Boston College (4-7), Temple (3-8), and Arkansas State (2-9). Then it lost two of its last three, the losses to Virginia Tech (7-5) and Syracuse (9-4), the win over Rutgers (0-11).

Miami improved steadily in the subsequent seasons. It won nine games each of the next two years, contended for the championship at 11-1 in 2000 (Davis's last year), and won the championship in 2001 with the plethora of talent Davis left when he went to the Browns.

When it comes to his current junior and senior classes, Weis is in a similar situation to Davis’ third season. This isn’t the only reason the Irish are 0-5, but it’s a major factor. It’s reasonable to criticize Weis' management of such a young roster, but how many coaches ever had to deal with a roster so skewed to its freshman and sophomore classes?

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 28, 2007

12th Street and Vine

I don't know if being in love means never having to say you're sorry, but I do know being a Notre Dame basketball fan means getting excited about a trip to Kansas City in November.

On November 18th, Notre Dame will take its place in the nascent College Basketball Hall of Fame when Austin Carr is inducted. Joining him will be former greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dick Groat, along with coaches Norm Stewart, "Lefty" Driesell and Adolph Rupp. This is the Hall's second induction class -- the first included such luminaries as John Wooden, Dean Smith, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell.

Thanks to, I'll be making the trip to cover the induction. Unfortunately, because of the team's commitment to the Paradise Jam, they'll be in the Bahamas. So insteade of Mike Brey, AC will be introduced by his good friend, classmate, and fellow member of the ND All-Century Team, Collis Jones.

Even though the team will be otherwise occupied, I'm hoping there'll be a quality ND crowd there. I've heard great things about the ND Club of KC, so I'll be getting in touch with them about putting the word in the streets. Meanwhile, if you're in the area, consider coming out and supporting the best hoops player in Irish history. We'll be posting info on NDN with the schedule and how to get tickets.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 27, 2007


The other day, I wrote about how NDN could be viewed by the electronic community. One commenter noted I hadn't been so circumspect during the previous coaching regime, and asked me why it was OK to criticize a black man on our boards while seemingly giving a white man a pass.

I didn't approve the comment, one because I didn't see how it was relevant, and two because the questioner obviously hadn't been on NDN during the Bob Davie era to see the parallels. However, the question stuck in my mind, and I'd like to try and answer it.

The last two football coaches at Notre Dame, in their heart of hearts, didn't want to be there. The first pursued the job because of its high profile and potential for personal mobility. The second took the job not because he wanted to but because he felt he had to -- it would mean a great deal to a lot of other people for him to be in that position. So each made the "sacrifice", of sorts, to move to South Bend from an area in which he was a lot more comfortable.

Unfortunately, neither took that "sacrifice" to its logical conclusion. It's not enough to do the job halfway, but that's where they stopped. They didn't truly want to be at Notre Dame, and it showed in everything they did.

The first spent too much time trying to turn ND into the place he really wanted to be, and was foolish enough to react in a dumbfounded manner when ND people didn't like it. He was so focused on where he would be next, he didn't take the time to concentrate on where he was then, and the results were predictably haphazard. He had some acumen but not enough experience, and wasn't interested in applying either to making Notre Dame better long-term.

The second, since he wanted to be at ND even less than the first, didn't work hard on the field or off. He didn't make an effort to get to know many people on campus, even those who went out of their way to make him feel welcome. He developed no affinity for or relationship with the alumni, even going so far as to push some of them away.

The top priority for each was not if ND won or lost, but rather how he looked to his prospective next employer. He would be at Notre Dame as long as it took to give the people who wanted him to be there what they needed, giving his career a boost in the process, and then he'd be off for what he believed to be greener pastures.

Compounding the problem was an administration who didn't have winning as their focus. They were more concerned with how the coach's employment played with those they wished to impress rather than how he was performing as an employee, the second coach especially. They put wins low on the priority list, and when those wins didn't stack up, those administrators really weren't bothered. They were scoring points with the people that mattered to them, and that's what counted.

The combination of those two factors -- a head coach and an administration both focused on things other than the advancement of the Notre Dame program -- made it necessary to get the people involved removed as soon as humanly possible. An atmosphere such as the one being created in South Bend was not going to lead to long-term stability or success. Any short-term gains would all go to waste under the poor leadership of people distracted by concerns that competent leaders would consider tertiary.

Now we have an administration willing to take perceived PR hits to put football back on the right track. We have a head coach deeply vested in the Notre Dame philosophy who has shown although he may sometimes be defeated, it won't be because he didn't work his ass off. The only constituency that matters to any of them are the players, alumni and fans who have supported the program through thick and thin.

Both the coach and the men he works for are capable of (and have made) mistakes both large and small. But those mistakes are borne of action rather than passivity, inspired by a chance to promote Notre Dame rather than an opportunity to advance their own agendas. While it's no guarantee of success, it's a much much better model for it than the previous regimes used.

This coach and these administrators are not doing de facto damage to the program by their presence and actions on campus. They want what we want. They bleed when we bleed. They care when we care. None of that has anything to do with the color of the coach's skin or the accent in his voice, but rather the focus of his mind and the desires of his heart, which are much more in sync with us than they were with either of the two men who preceded him in the position.

Does that mean I'm being more forgiving now than I was then? Probably. Like so many other situations in life, I'm going to reach out to the person willing to meet me halfway. Bob Davie got lost on the way to the meeting point, and Tyrone Willingham couldn't be bothered to take any steps in that direction.

Charlie Weis, on the other hand, has virtually sprinted to where we are and given us plenty of reason to put our faith in him. So that's where my faith is. If either of his predecessors had done the same, I (and many others) would have responded in kind. But they didn't. So here we are.

Labels: , , ,

Disconnect? More Like Chasm

Yes, it's been a couple days since the Mike Gundy contretemps, and plenty has been said on both sides. One might wonder why it's worth chiming in now.

But this article by Gene Wojciechowski piqued my interest, because not only was was it the first example I've seen of a media creature attempting to address the galactic disconnect that currently exists between sportswriters and the teams they cover and the fans of those teams (although other excellent examples exist like this one from the Fort Dodge Messenger), but it also addresses a pet Internet peeve of mine.

Here's the thrust of GW's jib:

The real work is to fix what's broken. There is a growing disconnect between the sports media and the coaches and players we cover, and the people who read that coverage. There have always been disagreements -- that's a given -- but there also was a common ground and a mutual respect. Now it's something much more polarizing. Mutual distrust.

I agree with him 100 percent. But I'd like to take it a step further and suggest a source for that growing disconnect.

It's been my belief that journalism in general, and sports journalism in particular, has changed its focus drastically in the last few years. It's no longer about the information you're sharing, but rather about how many people are the recipients of that sharing. I talked about this a little here in my comments about people like Pat Forde. The more hair they pull, the more people are talking about them, and the more eyeballs their advertisers get. No such thing as bad publicity, as the old saying goes.

Jenni Carlson's original article fed that beast as much as any other. Setting aside whether or not some of the things in the article actually happened, since when is the alleged mental fortitude or lack thereof of a backup quarterback news? Can you imagine Grantland Rice spending that many inches writing about a quarterback's psyche? Jason Whitlock, in a response in the KC Star, called it a "message-board attack", and he's absolutely right. As a message-board operator, I know this kind of crap when I see it, and if it had appeared on Rock's House written about a Notre Dame player, it would have been deleted as fast as I could move my mouse. That Carlson's editors not only didn't squelch it but featured it prominently betrays their motivations better than anything I could write here.

This is the bed that "real journalists" have made for themselves. When allegedly responsible entities like AOL are affiliating with and giving an imprimatur to people like Brian Cook of MGoBlog, who turned his entire site into pictures of kittens when Michigan lost to AppyState, it tells the reading public the paragons of journalism care a lot more about the entertainment value of the way the news is presented than the news itself. When writers replace research and insight with the daily trolling of message boards for stories, the inherent laziness trickles down and is reflected in their writing, which turns off the fans.

I appreciate GW's willingness to address this problem, but I find it incredibly ironic that this warning comes in an article on a website that is one of the biggest contributors to that problem. Let's face it, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network elevated Entertainment above Sports a long time ago, to the point they should just change the logo to EsPN. People take positions to get ratings rather than to further a viewpoint. Their idea of giving the audience what they need is a ranting failed football coach putting on mascot heads. I love Lou Holtz to death, but that dog-and-pony-show he and Mark May put on during the week is on the level of Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd. I pity the people there who actually try to provide decent acumen like Jay Bilas and Andy Katz, because their efforts are being drowned under Chris Berman's parade of stupid nicknames.

If GW wants coaches and fans to start trusting sports journalists again, he can start by getting his employer to clean their own house.

Now, having said all that, the fans have a job to do as well. I talked about how I feel Carlson's effort was substandard even for a message board. Unfortunately, we see way too much of that on message boards all over the place, and that includes NDN. Carlson may have been wrong to call Reid a wuss, but at least she signed her name to it and has not shied away from the resulting criticism. Some message board patrons hiding behind anonymous handles should think about that next time they rant about how this player sucks or that player isn't trying hard and is a waste of a scholarship.

I sometimes wonder if NDN would be different if we abandoned handles and all made our names public, just as my fellow Ops and I do. It's a lot different when you can be directly taken to task for what you say, because it tends to make you think a lot more before you say it.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saving Our Electronic Souls

Back in the day, you'd watch a game at a sports bar with your friends or in your living room with family. Joe Montana would overthrow a guy, maybe Alan Pinkett would hit the wrong hole, Tim Brown would down a kickoff inside the five yard line, Lou Holtz would have Kent Graham try and run an option play, and you'd scream at the television, berating the player or coach in question for being a knucklehead. Others in the bar or the room may have agreed or disagreed with you. Within five or six plays, the gaffe may or may not have been forgotten, but you'd moved on to the action at hand. After the game, you might have still been irritated at the blunder, especially if it contributed to a loss, but within a game or so, that play had melded into the other plays that constituted the story of the season.

Now the Internet has come along, and has turned into the world's biggest sports bar. Plays get analyzed long after their previous shelf life would have expired, and the opinions expressed, no matter how ephemeral, gain an air of permanency as the page on which they were written floats in the electronic ether. Philosophies both positive and negative tend to coalesce, as people gravitate towards others who share their viewpoint which may or may not be logical or correct. And as with all things, there is an element of supremacy and accuracy, as perceived value is placed on the person or site that was "first" to point something out.

These are the times that try men's souls. Unfortunately, our souls are being recorded on a magnetic disk these days.

It's hard to say whether these things are good or bad in and of themselves. In the end, we're discussing actual things that have happened, so it's not like people are inventing thing to be happy or to complain about. Opinions are still as much like assholes as they've ever been, and the Internet won't ever change that. Some folks feel you should be able to complain about things when they're bad, other folks feel fans shouldn't be going out of their way to create an atmosphere of negativity, and both sides can put together intelligent, reasonable arguments as to why they're correct.

But there's one thing I would hope both sides agree on -- anyone who tries to use those contributions fraudulently to further their own ends is a piece of garbage with no ethics.

I don't follow recruiting much because I'm a bear of very little brain and I don't have the spare horsepower to agonize over the decisions of 19-year-olds. As I've said many times, I long for the days of yesteryear when I got my Blue and Gold in March with the list of football players who had signed letters of intent and how they fit in the current puzzle. I didn't (and don't) need to know how good the players were who turned us down or who we decided we didn't want. There's only so much grass-is-greener syndrome I can fit in my life.

But a number of good friends of mine not only follow it, they report on it. And some of them are reporting coaches of other programs, particularly two from one school (whose names I won't mention but they rhyme with Suburban Liar and Peg's Mad At Her Son), are cultivating message board comments from ND sites and attempting to paint their own picture with them for already-committed ND recruits. They're inventing racial preferences on Charlie Weis' part because he went with a white quarterback over a black one. They're claiming that all the ND fans want Charlie and his whole staff fired. They believe, even though neither was an assistant coach at ND in the last three years, they can describe exactly how ND does things in all aspects, even though what they describe wasn't done even during their tenures.

All of this is, of course, crap. Charlie Weis went with the player he believed could win games for him, that's the long and short of it. ND fans of intelligence remember 19 wins in 23 games and two BCS bids very well, and none are pushing for Weis to be fired, nor is there any danger he will be. They want him to improve, certainly, and the quality of recruit he and Corwin Brown are bringing into the fold will help make that happen, but saying that Charlie will be "bought out" or the fans want him gone is fabrication of the worst kind.

One can only wonder what Kathi Lemire would think of that behavior if she were here to see it. I doubt she'd smile.

Labels: , , ,

How I'm spending my football vacation

No, I'm not walking away. Now is the time, after all, for all good men to come to the aid of their football program, and far be it from me to not be a good man.

I'm simply choosing to alter the methods by which I watch. In this season of discontent, we're past the point of looking for the usual things, or even the usual suspects. So this is how I plan on spending my football time for the 2007 season.

First, I've pretty much stopped reading external media and am sticking with outlets like IE and BGI (although I'll continue to link headlines for everyone, never fear). I don't need to be reminded that we're 0-and-whatever or how it compares to other seasons / coaches / programs or what that allegedly "means" outside of this season being, as the grounds crew in Cleveland would say, shitty. I need to see what is needed long-term to get it turned around and how those needs are being met, and those writers will tell me that better than anyone. If I want the external perspective, Mike Rothstein's and Ben Ford's work will do quite nicely, with the periodic samplings of John Walters. I'll still read the Chicago Trib because blood is thicker than water and I'm interested to see how Brian Hamilton is working out. Outside that list, no one exists until basketball season. I'm guessing it'll help my blood pressure.

Second, I've stopped looking at this season in a historical context, preferring to put it in one more attuned to the 10,000-foot view. "ND has never been 0-4 before" is a meaningless stat to me. All that says is they've never lost their first four games in a season. They've had bad seasons before, and this is obviously one of them. The important thing is how what happens this season builds for seasons to come, because that's how history eventually will judge it. Is it the crucible that forges a high-quality program, or the furnace that eventually melts Charlie Weis' career? We won't know that for a while, so let's watch what happens.

Building on the second point, I'm going to spend the games looking for an upward trend in the areas that need work. I know, it's hardly a short list. But this is what I want to see, in order of importance:

1) Continued improvement on the offensive line. Whether it was a weaker DL for MSU or the result of the renewed focus on hitting, the OL looked, in the words of Emperor Caesar, nice. Nice. Not thrilling, but nice. Holes were there for the running game, and Aldridge and Hughes were able to take advantage of them. The more of the game put on the backs, the less of it is on the back of the frosh QB. But the pass-blocking is still terrible, and while they need to do that in game situations if they're ever going to improve, they also need heavy doses of what is currently, at least in a hamstrung sense, working.

2) An overhaul on special teams. Now that they've looked at the OL and things are at least moving there, it's time to address special teams, and the needs are glaring to say the least. In all four games so far this season, special teams performance has hurt us, whether by penalty or giving up a big return or shanking a punt or whatever. The blocking schemes look disorganized. Price has regressed alarmingly. Right now, it doesn't look like this ST-by-committee thing is working. That means it's time to put the responsibilities in the hands of just one person, and if that person is not already on the staff (which I don't believe he is), he should be hired quickly after the gun sounds at Stanford.

3) Evidence of flexibility on the part of Charlie, which I talked about last week. I suppose taking the ball against MSU wasn't necessarily a bad decision on its face, but as someone pointed out on NDN, it would have been great to get the ball in the second half and try to build on the momentum instead of punting it away to MSU. Charlie also needs to have the patience to stick with what's working (yesterday, the running game) over what he, in his gut, wants to do but wasn't working (pass the ball). If we're getting six yards at a crack with Aldridge and Hughes, we should hammer away at it as much as possible. That was MSU's game plan yesterday, and it was effective.

4) An influx of passion. Watching other games and programs, you see guys jumping around like they're ready to rip someone's head off. In college, that's an important aspect of a program. It's not as important, however, in the pros where a paycheck serves as the primary motivator, so this makes another area in which Charlie must try to adjust.

Trouble is, the passion and leadership usually is expected from the upperclassmen. Right now, our captains on offense and special teams are too busy executing poorly and getting penalties to lead anyone else. It also requires the proper temperament. Zibby would be a perfect candidate to spark that passion, but while he gives everything he has on every play, I'm led to understand he's kind of a soft-spoken guy in general. Yet another ingredient for this perfect storm of Murphy's Law this season has become.

I haven't included anything for the defense on the list because it's my belief the issues there are strictly talent-related. If that sounds like I'm throwing players under the bus, that's not my intention because I don't think anyone out there is dogging it. But when the players turning in the best plays are sophomores and freshmen, it is what it is. There's more intensity and ferocity, but they're still getting the horses into place.

If there's anything I want to see on D, it's continued playing time for the freshmen like Kerry Neal and Brian Smith. Next year, when the injured Gary Gray will join Darrin Walls at corner and have guys like Robert Blanton backing them up, the secondary will be much tougher, which will allow guys like Neal, Smith, and the array of four- and five-star frosh to wreak havoc in Corwin Brown's system.

There's still lots to do, and if you're going to be focused on record and history and where Michigan is in the all-time-whatevers list relative to us, this is going to be a bad season for you. We can't do anything about the first three games, which were awful in both coaching and execution. We can, however, do something about the future, and that's what I want to see these next few weeks.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Institutionalized Dumbness

As predicted, ND's 0-3 start has brought the Weis-to-Willingham wolves out in force. I can only imagine what it'd be like had Washington defeated Ohio State.

Most of the hair-pulling is so much tripe and not worthy of reading, let alone commenting on. And let's be clear: the reason for that is not that I disagree with their point (although I do). The reason for that is those columns don't represent true opinion.

If the authors had covered ND and its football program for a long time, had insight into the situation, and were trying to communicate a closely-held belief on their part, I could respect that. But guys like Pat Forde and Bob Kravitz and most of the ABC/ESPN talking heads don't have closely-held opinions on the subject. They'll write just about anything about just about anyone within the boundaries of legality and (sometimes) taste if it gets them attention, eyeballs glued to their words, and advertising or other revenues for their papers and websites. Their mantra is it doesn't matter if they're saying bad things about you, just so they're saying things about you. Effectively, they've whored out their writing talent, and I really can't respect that.

Writers I do respect like Terence Moore, Malcolm Moran, Jason Kelly, and others have written plenty of critical things about Notre Dame. Some I've agreed with, some I've not, but in all cases, I know they're writing from a position of trying to inform and educate the reader. Therein lies the difference. They're not trying to make their bones at Notre Dame's expense.

I'm more than willing to discuss arguments entered into in good faith. And I read one today that, while I have plenty of issues with its content, at least seems to be coming from that perspective. In today's Rocky Mountain News, Paul Campos discusses Weis' current situation and believes it to be an example of "institutionalized racism" rather than the overt variety. You can read the entire article here.

As I said, there are overt errors here with which I don't agree and which have been discussed in this space before. Charlie Weis has beaten plenty of "good opponents" -- it's not like he won 19 games in his first two years against the MAC. There's little mention of his first two seasons in the article, and Campos makes it sound like Weis has been bad since he got to ND, which isn't true. There's also no reference to the marked improvement in recruiting since Weis arrived. And I'd like at least one of the people taking on this subject to at least mention the fact that not only does ND graduate African American players at one of the highest rates in D1 football but also is the only D1 program to have African Americans in both coordinator positions, but I'm not holding my breath.

But this is the meat of what I wanted to discuss -- a portion of the article where Campos quotes a friend of his whom he calls "JJ", referring to Weis' extension in his first season:

"I'm not saying ND's AD and president are sitting there saying, 'Well, Weis sucks, but he's white, let's give him another chance.' Obviously that's not what's happening. But I do think there's plenty of institutional racism, and this is a good case. Weis isn't getting another chance because ND's administration is overtly racist, it's because everyone at ND is just more inclined to think highly of Weis and poorly of Willingham."

I understand where JJ is coming from, and I agree with him there's a problem with racial viewpoint when it comes to coaching in America. But I don't agree with him that Notre Dame is an example.

First, if Weis is getting "another chance", it's because his first two seasons were very good, resulting in BCS bowl bids, something his predecessor playing a similar schedule never achieved. That, as I said last week, buys you goodwill when things don't go well. And it's not like that goodwill isn't being used up, because at some point in the (near) future, the well will run dry and we'll see what we shall see.

Second and more importantly, I don't believe the contract extension Weis received was the result of people at ND being more inclined to view him positively because of his race. I think it was the result of Notre Dame, when it comes to matters of handling coaches, having a very clear track record of being stupid.

Up until the late 1990s, Notre Dame was still operating under the five-and-one model -- a five-year deal to start with, then one-year "handshake agreements" after that -- with all coaches in both football and basketball. It was a horribly antiquated methodology, and I know on the basketball side, at least, it was damaging to recruiting and the stability of the program.

They finally entered the 20th century on this issue just as it was ending, but it was a bad transition. Kevin White, barely into his job himself, gave Bob Davie a contract extension after a nine-win smoke-and-mirrors season, only to watch the team absolutely implode in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon State. Supposedly, that extension was necessary because the first contract Davie had signed -- also the first in ND history that wasn't on the five-and-one model -- was so poorly structured it had no termination provisions. They fired Bob Davie, stepped on their cranks with Jon Gruden, and hired George O'Leary and his MadLibs resume for about a week. As a result of that two-week circus, they had to overpay an unspectacular Tyrone Willingham to take the job, who immediately set new standards in lack of effort both on and off the field. Once again, a firing followed by a PR disaster, this time with Urban Meyer, before landing Weis.

So when Weis started out with a high-powered and well-thought-out offense, organization and success on the recruiting trail, and an air of stability around the program, I can understand why White would want to lock him up. But doing it so quickly and for so long was, like so many similar decisions in the last decade, stupid. Weis was already on for six years and had a buyout provision. If he was really the kind of guy who was going to bolt after a season, is that the guy you want at ND anyway, stability notwithstanding? It's much more likely he and his agent decided to shake the tree a little bit to see how much fruit was still there to fall, never dreaming they'd find themselves in the middle of Pete's Produce with a blank check thanks to Kevin's acumen (or lack thereof).

And it's not like the ineptitude has been reserved for football. John MacLeod begged for years for a longer-than-one-year deal to give his staff some stability. Matt Doherty was able to bail for North Carolina in the middle of July recruiting after one year at ND without it costing him a dime. Then there were the travails of replacing baseball coach Paul Mainieri last year. We still don't know what happened with the golf coach that mysteriously resigned.

I can understand why JJ may feel there's a tendency to view white coaches better than black ones because I do believe that's true in some places. The linked article talks about Norv Turner, and I completely agree it's stupefying how he continues to get work when there's a mountain of evidence he can't get the job done. How many times was Rich Kotite hired?

But in ND's case, I think it's more an unfortunately typical attack of dumbness.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 17, 2007


ND is in dangerous waters at 0-3, and I'm choosing to navigate some as well in bringing a suggestion to help Charlie Weis succeed.

Let me start with what seems to be the required disclaimers. I still believe Weis can be a successful coach at Notre Dame. I still believe ND was right to fire Tyrone Willingham when they did, and still believe Weis was the right man for the job when hired. I am also not calling for his removal any time soon.

But Weis now stands at a crossroads. One way lies college coaching success, and the other lies college coaching oblivion. The result will depend on which path he takes.

And I believe the first step on that path is for him to look in the mirror and both say and believe, "It's not all about me".

Do I think Charlie Weis is a selfish man? Hell no. No selfish person could do what he does in the name of disabled children and adults, especially to the extent he does it. Charlie is a person very giving with both his time and his money, for which he deserves every commendation that comes his way.

But he's not nearly as giving with his trust. There's a very fine line between self-confidence and self-insulation, and I think Charlie's been tiptoeing up to it way too often.

Charlie believes in himself, but I don't know if he necessarily believes in anyone else. He's fine delegating when it's a subject he feels he doesn't know, but when Charlie knows something, he's the only one who can know it because no one else can know it as well as he. I like he's willing to take responsibility for the program, but I don't like it if it means no one else can do the same. That's not a viable long term solution.

Here's an example. Last Saturday, Notre Dame was on the road facing a team with a first-time starting quarterback. The last couple of games, the Irish offense wasn't able to get on track immediately. The previous week, the first-time starter on the other side had been shaky in decision-making.

I'm not a coach, but it seems to be the logical choice if Notre Dame won the toss to start the game would be to defer the decision to the second half and put the defense on the field first. This would force the first-time starter out on the field immediately, where he might make a mistake and give ND needed momentum.

But that's not what was done. Charlie's influence is on the offensive side of the ball, and only his offense can be trusted to take control of the game at the start and get ND rolling towards a win. So ND got the ball first, and the only thing that got rolling was the ball towards the Michigan goal line after a bad first snap.

If Charlie can say "It's not all about me" to himself and mean it, it becomes easier to trust other people to do their jobs to help you. It becomes easier to listen to other viewpoints which, while you may not agree with them, may open unconsidered possibilities up to you. It gives you the broader perspective crucial to the success of a head coach as opposed to a coordinator.

Once Charlie can start trusting others, he can take two more steps I believe crucial to his development as a college coach as opposed to a professional one:

Install a true offensive coordinator. He may already have him on the coaching staff, but if Mike Haywood isn't that guy, he should be replaced by someone who is. That coordinator should have full reign over the offense, and be responsible for the assistants working under him. Charlie will have his input, of course, but should spend his time macro-managing the program and not sitting down with the quarterbacks or sketching out the first X number of plays for a game. That's the OC's job, and Charlie is no longer an OC.

A true OC may also expose Charlie to a word I think he needs to hear more often: No. Some ideas are good, some bad. If your assistants are unwilling to promote the former while warning you away from the latter, they're useless to you. As I said, the more viewpoints, the broader the perspective.

Adapt practice strategies towards what works in college. Charlie knows what he knows, but I think it's time for him to get to know other things. The biggest of those things is how the college game differs from the pros.

According to folks who know, pro practices don't usually involve a lot of hitting and fundamentals. The players already know how to do what they do, they just need to be told when to do it. They also spend a long season getting hit by other pros, so it's not smart to wear them out beating the crap out of each other. This doesn't hold in college. College players need to learn the skills they'll take to the NFL, and their college coaches must teach them.

College players also need inspiration. Pro players are paid very well to eat, sleep and breathe football 24/7. College players have a lot more on their plate, and sometimes need that extra mental edge. They want to be told to "Win one for the Gipper", if only to give them something to hold on to when things go wrong.

Not all is lost, and there's a prime example of how to do it on our schedule. According to a story I heard, Pete Carroll found himself in this same position at the end of his first season at USC, a season that didn't go so well. He decided to embrace his inner Poodle and (in turn) the college atmosphere. He abandoned the NFL-style practices and started hitting hard all the time, and brought in assistants who not only knew the game but could also fire up his players. Hard to argue with the results.

This is where Charlie must grow and adapt. There's no doubt he has a fine understanding of the game, but being a head coach requires a different kind of understanding that goes beyond the Xs and Os. Sometimes the solution is simpler than that, and in this case, it has to start with trust. Once he starts to trust, his life gets better.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mr. Ambassador

Had that dream again ... you know, the one where you're looking for the room your final exam is in but you don't know where it is and you didn't go to the class all semester but it's too late to drop the class? But it always seems worse when I have it, because in addition to looking for the exam I know about, it's always Tuesday in the dream, meaning I missed at least one exam I didn't know about. Fell asleep in front of the TV, and "Saved by the Bell: The College Years" was on when I woke up, so that might have done it.

Anyway, NDGravy went to an Alumni Club meeting last night, and usually the best info comes out of those Q&A's, especially when Doug Marsh is involved. Since posts age off NDN after a while, I want to make sure what he said gets saved:

Doug Marsh was there to talk about construction on campus. I talked with him briefly at the end of the night and here is what he had to say regarding construction at the JACC:

1. The expansion of the South Dome will begin next fall. This will include the new entrance where current Gate 10 is, as well as the ticket box office, etc.

2. After commencement after the 2008-2009 season, the entire arena make over will occur. This will include moving seating court side (including students?) and moving the press up to a press box area. All chairs will be replaced and made a uniform color at that time. This should be complete by October 15 for basketball practice for the 2009-2010 season.

3. $15 million for hockey is first "real" gift. They still need another $15 million to get to the point of doing the new arena within arena in the North Dome. Of course, I don't quite know how much knowledge Marsh has on the actual fund raising, but he believed the North Dome was two years off.

4. With the space left in the North Dome, plans are currently there to start fund raising for practice courts only after the hockey arena is finished. So I am guessing 3 -4 years out.

I am not going to act like I am an expert or have any real knowledge about what is going on, but that is what I got from Marsh at the end of a presentation he did regarding construction of campus. Thought I would pass it along as it is very pertinent to the current topic of conversation.

Pertinent indeed, and very much worth discussing.

The South Dome project will have multiple phases. I'm not surprised the exterior phase will start first, since that can go on independent of any other events going on at the arena. Unfortunately, it's also the phase I find to be the most superfluous to the true needs of the program, but c'est la vie.

On the one hand, I'm glad the interior makeover (the meat of the project) will start in reasonably short order. I'm concerned, however, they believe they can wait until the third Sunday of May to start and yet still expect it to be finished by October 15th. I don't imagine replacing the seats would take a long time, but there's also the task of putting permanent seating in place of the bleachers, as well as creating this "press box area" (which would have to be much larger than the crow's nest seats behind Section 101, and all the other things supposedly in the plan. That's all going to get done in five months?

Five months is not a long time for a renovation that is supposed to make a huge difference in the appearance of the Joyce Center. As comparison, Stanford's $30m renovation of their Maples Center in 2004 (which, to be clear, created an excellent space) started on March 1st and took nine months. While they finished slightly ahead of schedule, it's always better to be safe than sorry. What happens if things run long or the plans change? It's not like you can suddenly move home basketball games. I had figured ND would ask the BE to front-load the home schedule that season to enable the earliest start date possible and move graduation activities to the Stadium or Century Center for one year. God bless 'em if they can get quality work done in that time, but it's going to remain a concern.

On to the last point. Again, on the one hand, the fact that the fundraising arm of the projects knows how necessary practice facilities are is a good thing. However, I do not like the statement that fundraising for those facilities won't even begin until the hockey work is complete (assuming that's true). That's incredibly short-sighted. I understand not starting construction, but not even starting the fundraising? Considering this group took eight years to get the original project funded, I really don't want to wait another three to even start asking for money for an even more crucial effort.

But as the old saying goes, ask and ye shall receive. No sooner did I begin typing this section, than former hoops walk-on Khadaffi had a brilliant suggestion:

Mike Brey has actually been quite good about trying to build a sense of camaraderie among alums of the program. During football season (a tip of the cap to the reality that very few basketball alums will trek to So. Bend during the winter -- and certainly not en masse), MB hosts gatherings. But MB has a day job. He is not and should not be the lead fundraiser. The recent tribute to the top all-time players (many were named by you) was also a good event. There remains a need for a pied piper -- someone within the University framework who can work with Mike Brey and the fund-raising infrastructure.

A truly excellent suggestion. And I have the perfect guy in mind: LaPhonso Ellis.

All things equal, the best candidate for that position would be a former coach, preferably retired. Unfortunately, ND isn't in a good position there. Digger tends to be either incredibly popular or incredibly unpopular with folks, and a polarizing figure such as he would be a bad choice. John MacLeod is still employed in the league, and isn't a good candidate for such a position anyway. Matt Doherty barely had a cup of coffee with the program, and all the other possibilities are deceased. So that route isn't available.

If it's going to be a player, Phonz is, as the radio ads say, the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth. He carried the flag for ND in the NBA for years during the Decade of Dereliction on campus. He's already involved with the program via his radio gig. He's an incredibly engaging personality who seems like he'd be at home in a boardroom, a classroom, or a living room. He represents the best ND has to offer both on the court and off, and if someone like him can't sell the virtues of ND's basketball program, no one can.

The various SNAFUs with the current Joyce Center project have shown how badly ND basketball needs an ambassador. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have in the job than Phonz.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Same Old, Same Old

As I've said before, it's never a good thing when someone starts an email warning you you're going to get pissed.

But a couple weeks ago, a friend of mine on campus sent me one warning that the hockey program had received a $15 million donation towards their facility upgrade from [name redacted], but they weren't going to announce it just yet because there was concern how Mike Brey and Muffet McGraw would react to hockey getting their nest egg filled before basketball.

At first, I was more sanguine. Hockey's current playing area is a complete dump and needs an upgrade more than the hoops side does (which is really saying something). The price tag I was quoted for the arena-within-arena project was $15 to $20m, so this would mean their project is funded and attention can once again be put towards getting the last few hundred thousand so ground can be broken on the basketball project. It's not the hockey program's fault there's a well-to-do subway alumnus who likes Jackson and the job he's doing (although one wonders where the hoops version is, considering it's been more popular for much longer at ND).

Then I heard the budget for the project had jumped from $15m to $25 or $30m. No problem, I thought. The practice facilities ND needs for basketball will cost somewhere around $10m to really do right, so maybe they've decided to reward Mike and Muffet for their patience and make that part of the North Dome renovation.

Then I read this, specifically:
It turns out that the $15 million price tag was only for the base model of a new arena. A juiced-up model, one with all the bells and whistles of an elite national program, goes for considerably more -- actually, about $10 million to $15 million more.

Let me get this straight, thought I. They have full funding to give a non-revenue-producing sport a good-quality arena. But instead, they're going to go out and find a couple more million (or tens of millions) to "juice it up" and give it "bells and whistles". It'll still be an arena-within-an-arena, just like the original plan, but now it's going to have bling out the wazoo even though the R.O.I calculations on the project will get even worse. Meanwhile, the project to give a revenue-producing sport it's first meaningful physical plant upgrade in 40 years continues to languish for want of $700,000, and that plan still won't include the desperately-needed practice facilities.

And my head exploded.

The good news, if there is any, is they won't be taking up the entire North dome. They'll still be in half of it, but it'll be permanent space. This means, hopefully, there's still room to put the practice facility in there, which is the optimal solution, provided the same fundraising apparatus that can't come up with $700,000 for the arena can get the money for it.

But that's all the good news to be had here for hoops fans, as we watch our pays-for-itself program get cut off by yet another money-losing Olympic sport at the funding trough. Golf has that all-weather driving range that's so critical to their success. Hockey will now be getting "bells and whistles". And if the rumors I hear are true, women's crew (a sport barely above club-level) will be getting a boathouse at a cost somewhere (perhaps significantly) north of a million dollars.

All while basketball practices in a columned concrete box in the Joyce Center basement with no weight or training machines, and plays in an arena whose floor is held down by duck tape, whose seats are worn, whose concessions and bathrooms are 25 years out of date, whose press facilities aren't even high school level, and whose latest locker room upgrades are almost a decade old and were only done because the previous coach threatened to quit if they weren't.

I've long said one of the reasons I want Mike Brey to succeed at ND is to prove that nice guys don't always finish last. But I think, in this area, that's working against him. He and Muffet have been waiting eight years for these promised upgrades ... way too long for a project that will not include practice digs, will still have wires going across the floor, and will focus more on the fat cats in luxury suites than the players toiling on the court.

So if I were Mike and Muffet, I would walk into Kevin White's office and inform him on January 1st, there's going to be a press conference down there on the Joyce Center's (inadequate) floor, at which one of two things are going to happen:

1) He will be announcing the timetable for a fully-funded and ready-to-start renovation of the basketball facilities at Notre Dame, which will include not only the long-promised seat replacements and improvements to the arena physical plant but also practice space and dedicated weight and training areas for both basketball teams.

2) They will be announcing their joint resignations as head coach for Notre Dame's basketball programs, explaining that after being lied to for eight years about the plans for the program's future, they could no longer see their way clear to working for a school that obviously doesn't care about basketball. After said conference, they and their agents would be placing calls to every coach they know warning them about the lack of support they'd receive if they took a job in South Bend.

It's time to take the gloves off. It's time for the school to explain to long-suffering basketball fans why they can't figure out how to get money raised for the second-most popular sport at ND. To explain why there aren't even architectural drawings yet for a project that has been on the boards for over eight years. To explain what it is about all these in-the-red Olympic sports that makes them more deserving of multi-million-dollar projects than a basketball program that actually would have a chance of paying for their upgrades over time.

We want to know, Kevin. We deserve to know. What's your answer?

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Drum Major, If You Please

Every parade must have a leader, and it's usually those who are adept at it who are asked to do it most often. So it comes as no surprise to me that ESPN resident hair-puller Pat Forde has decided to fire the first shot in the Weis-to-Willingham idiocy parade this year with his article today.

If memory serves, he was the first out of the gate last year on the subject when Washington started 4-1 and ND got handled by Michigan. But then the Irish peeled off eight straight wins while the Huskies lost six in a row (including that 20-3 decision to powerhouse Stanford), and Forde and the rest of the intellectually bankrupt muckrakers stuck their heads back in the hole, waiting for the next chance.

I don't want to link it because contributing to the decline of society by making people dumber is a mortal sin. You're welcome to hunt for and read it yourself, and on your own head be it. But I'll pull a couple of paragraphs here and there so you get the gist.

Domers, Your Credibility Is On The Clock. When Notre Dame trap-doored Tyrone Willingham after just three years on the job in 2004, it established a precedent for the next coach: You've got three years, pal. Have it up and running at full speed or else.

Pat Pat Pat Pat Pat Pat Pat. So stupid so quick. Can't you even let the reader settle in before hitting them over the head with a mistake?

That's not the precedent, big guy. That's not even close.

No one was asking Tyrone Willingham to "have it up and running at full speed" in his third year, although that would have been nice. What they were asking him to do was improve on the previous regime while setting a good foundation for future success. And Willingham didn't even come close to succeeding on that score.

It wasn't just that ND wasn't competitive on the field for two and a half seasons (which would have been three outside of fortuitous bounces on defense). It also wasn't looking any better any time soon. Aside from a quality class in his first year (coached by Weis to the best first-two-season win total of any ND coach in its history), Willingham and his staff bumbled to two mediocre-at-best classes in a row to follow it up. After three seasons of ineptitude on offense and haphazard results on defense (to say nothing of atrocious special teams), no coaching changes were in the offing. And yet the golf course continued to beckon, at the expense of gameplanning and meeting with high school coaches and getting support from alumni and all sorts of other duties Willingham neglected in his three years in South Bend.

Willingham knew as well as Notre Dame did that the relationship wasn't working. That's why his reps were talking to Washington in October of that year, why his contract had a special buyout clause at the end of the third season (when if he'd done well, he'd be NFL bound), and why he refused to make any assistant coaching changes at the end of his third season when his bosses suggested very strongly he do so.

He could afford to be insubordinate. He had his golden (domed) parachute, both financial and philosophical. He goes sailing off into the purple sunset with many millions of ND's dollars -- more than had ever been paid to any non-African American football coach in school history, by the way -- while the Irish would have to deal with the small-minded fallout from people who couldn't see past the color of Willingham's skin to take in the (lack of) content of his character.

Yes, coaches should get at least a fourth year as a rule. Some turnaround jobs are harder than others. But those coaches should be willing to meet the school halfway. Those coaches should be able to identify what's not working and make moves to try and make fixes. Those coaches should at least pretend they're interested in a career at their place of employment.

Willingham's recruiting was in the toilet. His offenses scared no one. His defenses were hit-or-miss. His relationships with high school coaches were terrible. His relationships with a lot of the ND alumni clubs, including those that had bent over backwards to help him feel welcome, were worse.

And what was he doing to fix those things? Absolutely nothing.

So what would the point of a fourth year have been, other than to dig Notre Dame into an even deeper hole? One more year of bad recruiting. One more year slipping away from the rank of winningest college program. One more year of players and fans walking away.

What would that have accomplished?

Oh, I have no doubt it would have accomplished a lot for the people who don't like Notre Dame or who thrive on mindless rhetoric. But I don't think it would have done much for us, the alumni and fans, and in the end, our opinions, needs and wants count a lot more than the haters'. And thank God for that.

At least you have the intellectual honesty to admit "Weis coached many of Willingham's players better than Willingham ever did". A logician would have recognized that as being the overall point and stopped there. Quelle surprise you did not, talking about what the "Willingham players" and the "Weis players" have accomplished on offense.

Of course, you fail to note how in most programs, upperclassmen are expected to contribute more than underclassmen, a condition exacerbated at a place like Notre Dame that does not allow automatic redshirting. And it should probably be noted that the Weis version of Quinn, Samardzija, Stoval, et al, were ten times the players the Willingham versions were (which, again, would be the overall point).

Should Charlie Weis be on the hot seat? Right now, no. When you spend two years giving the fans the results they want while working very hard to ensure a strong future, you build goodwill that takes you through the rough patches. And that has nothing to do with his Caucasianality and everything to do with knowing his job and doing it.

But his seat is certainly warming. If we're having this same conversation about ineptitude on offense this time next year, you can bet his tushie will be more than a little singed.

And that'll be no different than how Willingham was treated.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Jane, You Ignorant Slut

With the release of the 2007-08 schedule, I thought I'd indulge in a little personal schizophrenia and review the pros and cons of the slate Mike Brey has produced. I'll do my best to keep the two halves of my brain as balanced as possible.


Yes, the out of conference schedule is very light, and ND probably won't get a good student crowd until Marquette comes to town in February. ND has a tradition of playing the basketball powers, no doubt about it. If you look at the most-games-played list, you'll see teams like Marquette, Indiana, Kentucky, and UCLA, so it's not like the Irish have traditionally ducked a challenge.

But up until 1995, ND was free to make its own schedule. 27 or more games were left to the discretion of John Jordan, Johnny Dee and Digger Phelps to craft into whatever slate they saw fit. If they wanted to schedule a steady diet of the Little Sisters of the Poor, they could have. Of course, that likely would have sabotaged any shot at an NCAA at-large bid, so they had to mix in the Hoosiers and Bruins and Wildcats and other quality opponents to keep the media attention on South Bend and the rear ends in the Joyce Center seats. Those schedules had Fairfields and Marists on them, too, but everyone forgets about those crappy games and only thinks about the couple of big opponents every year.

These days, 18 of 28 slots are predetermined by the boys in Providence, and those slots will be very difficult this year. Two-time opponent UConn was young last year, and that talent is starting to gel. Marquette's guards are a year better as well. Louisville and Cincinnati are expected to be improved as their talent grows and/or plays healthy. Pittsburgh has been a perennial NCAA tourney team, and Syracuse just pulled in an incredibly good recruiting class. Even perceived "easy outs" like Rutgers and USF have conference pride to inspire play, and both are on the road instead of at home where a W might be easier to come by.

If you look at the schedule overall, it's good balance. Yes, the OOC games are, for the most part, weak, but after January 1st, weak games will be very difficult to come by for this Irish squad. ND will have plenty of chances to prove itself against tough teams, both at home and on the road. There's more to the schedule than the OOC games.

And let's remember ND has played difficult schedules before and not been rewarded for them. They played the hardest BE schedule by a two-game margin four years ago, but they were still the last team left out of the NCAAs. Why should they bust their asses to play a murderer's row when the selection committee has shown they don't care? The important thing is getting to the NCAA tournament. Who cares how we got there, we'll be there.


Yes, the conference slate will be murder this season, and yes, it's very important ND start building another NCAA appearance streak. But I don't think it's guaranteed this slate will get them a bid.

First off, the entire concept of using strategery to finesse an NCAA bid is off-putting to me. You shouldn't try to schedule an NCAA bid any more than the football team should try to schedule a BCS title game appearance. It violates some basic philosophy of sport. The best, most deserving teams are going to find a way to get a bid. Yes, the ND team four years ago got screwed, but they also lost to a 3-win CMU team at home, so it's questionable if their entire body of work had merited selection. Deserving teams don't put themselves in the "questionable" category.

Besides, I'm not so sure the selection committee hasn't revised their thinking on all this. Syracuse finished 10-6 in the Big East last year, won a game at the EWSNBN, and yet they ended up in the NIT because (a) the conference slate proved slightly less arduous than it had seemed in the preseason, and (b) their non-conference schedule, which led to them not even leaving the state before their first BE road contest, was a joke. Boeheim seems to have learned the lesson, since in addition to the PNIT this season, Syracuse has a road game at Virginia in December and has picked up contests against top-50 UMass and #108 Rhode Island. ND has gone the complete opposite way, playing three teams that finished above 300 in the RPI last year. Will this be our lesson to learn this year?

I'm not advocating a murderer's row. Kansas State and Georgia Tech should look fine on the non-conference, particularly since neither game is at home. But I don't think an average opponent's RPI of 208 is going to help us come tournament time. OOC is the part of the schedule you can control, and I think the committee looks at that when determining the bids. ND is saying they don't want to challenge themselves. One more heavyweight, along with replacing some of the 250+ opponents with some in the 150-200 range, would get the job done and not strongly affect the W/L record.

Second, the big complaints the past couple of seasons has been the home crowd. The students haven't turned out the way the team has deserved. The loge section is still unacceptably empty. This is exciting basketball, and the team deserves an exciting crowd.

All that is completely true. But I think the way you get exciting crowds is to make ND basketball the place to be -- create momentum early in the season, get students and the GA group into the habit of getting to the Joyce Center. And I'm sorry, but Long Island, Youngstown State, and Colgate ain't the kind of programs that will help establish that momentum. If the fans haven't been paying attention in December, it's harder to get their focus in January and February when you need it. A UCLA or a Michigan State -- heck, even a Butler -- would have gone a long way towards putting hoops in the students' and fans' minds early and keeping it there down the stretch.

Finally, as will probably be mentioned more and more in the coming weeks, this team is closing in on the all-time Joyce Center win streak mark of 24, set back in Digger's early days (the overall home win streak, 38 games in the 1940s in the Fieldhouse, is still a ways away).

If you look at the streak, there are plenty of quality teams in there -- Marquette, DePaul twice, Villanova, Louisville, Alabama. But part of the reason they're close to that win streak is the large number of home games that were played last year against more than a few punching bags. Looking at the first five opponents at home -- LIU, Youngstown State, Colgate, Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois -- I can't help but get the feeling we're jumping into a cab for the last part of the race. The 24-game streak they're going to break contains ranked (and elite) teams like Indiana, UCLA, Michigan State, Kentucky and Kansas in addition to teams like Marquette and DePaul and Villanova. While I'm proud of this team getting the job done in their house, a small part of me regrets that contribution of the 1973-74 squad will be eclipsed this way.


I know I said I was going to try and keep it balanced, but I can't help it. This OOC schedule really leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm very concerned it's going to come back and bite us at NCAA time, either with bad seeding or being left out entirely. I know a very loaded Maui Classic will help next year, but I really hope uninteresting fall semesters isn't going to be a trend under the 18-game Big East schedule.

Labels: ,