The Luck of the Irish: Notre Dame v. USC ’05 Preview

Admit it. You had your doubts about this guy, Charlie Weis. Even with his fifteen years of NFL experience, and four Super Bowl rings, you wondered. Was he the right choice? After all, he didn’t play college football. And, his only head coaching experience was at some High School in Jersey. When you plugged his name into Google Images and clicked on “search,” it got even worse. The pictures that appeared seemed a bit off (to be kind). This was the next coach of the Fighting Irish? A dude that looked like Rodney Dangerfield? We were already not getting enough respect.

Go ahead. Admit it. Tell me you didn’t cringe at the yearbook photo. Tell me you had something else in mind. It’s okay. He wasn’t my first choice, either.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

Funny how impressions change. And, with Weis, they sure changed quickly. After winning his third Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator with Bill Belichick and the Patriots (and simultaneously attacking recruiting), Charlie arrived in South Bend and immediately got down to business. And, when I say business, I don’t mean settling in and getting a little work done.

I mean business.

Some said there was a new sheriff in town. I would say there were a new sheriff, mayor, governor, president, bartender, operator, fry cook, and ski instructor. In a very short time (to me at least) Charlie Weis became Notre Dame football. Suddenly, there was some swagger. People were saying BCS instead of Diamond Walnut, Micron PC, or Motor City to describe possible bowl destinations for 2005. 6-5 was talked about like it was an Alaskan oil spill, not a positive outcome to a season. Players were introduced to a work out schedule that looked like something out of a prison camp in Siberia. Words like tough and nasty became staples of our team’s vocabulary. Footwork and techniques were scrutinized like evidence on a CSI episode. There was even talk of amending that great sign hanging in the stairwell.

And, you know what? Play Like a Champion Every Day did seem to make more sense.

While some of us might be surprised by the 4-1 start (especially with 4 of the first 5 on the road), most of us expected this improvement in level of play and attitude. After getting to know Charlie, we expected him to succeed.

In that sense, we shouldn’t look at this game as a barometer of how far the program has come. It has already arrived, made itself comfortable, and requested a club sandwich. Whether we win, lose, or a meteorite lands on the field and cancels play this Saturday, the Irish are headed for an impressive future.

There were no smoke and mirrors in that close loss at home to Michigan State, or the victory in West Lafayette.

This year, in fact, has been pure, unadulterated Charlie Weis. Production. Zero tolerance for losing. Work harder than you ever have before. And, recruit like your coaching staff is on sabbatical.

It seems so odd now that we had our reservations about Charlie Weis. How unsure some of us were back then. If we knew then what we know now, would Father Jenkins and Kevin White have even bothered with that trip to Utah? I think they would have stayed home and used the gas money to pay for Charlie’s cell phone bill.

So, in the end, will we need the “luck of the Irish” on Saturday? I don’t think so.

But, we sure did when Charlie was hired.

Thank God White and Jenkins were more lucky than good.

Notre Dame 42
USC 38

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