Bring On the Crimson Tide

New Alabama coach Nick Saban would like the Crimson Tide to schedule a game with Notre Dame sometime in the future:

Nick Saban admits some fans may think he’s crazy.

But the new University of Alabama football coach has a scheduling philosophy that he believes in. And it includes his team playing one big-time, high-interest intersectional game per year.

“I’d like to play Notre Dame,” Saban said during a question-and- answer period following Wednesday’s speech to a packed room of members of the Rotary Club of Birmingham. “We played them three times at Michigan State and beat them three times. That was a great national game, it creates fan interest and TV will always jump on those games.”

First off, of course Saban had to get his little “we beat them three times” line in reference to his wins over the Bob Davie led Irish. News flash Nick, that isn’t exactly an accomplishment worth bragging about. Hell, even Tyrone Willingham had a winning record vs. Davie.

Anyway, seeing Notre Dame and Alabama play would definitely quite a draw for TV ratings. The two storied programs had played just six times with Notre Dame being victorious in five of those contents including bowl wins in back to back seasons in ’73 and ’74 under Ara. The win in the 1973 Sugar Bowl gave Ara his second national championship and the win in the ’74 Orange Bowl over Bear Bryant’s Tide was Ara’s final game as the head coach for the Irish.

The only problem is that by the time a game between these two schools could be added to the schedule, Saban will be two or three jobs down the road so Notre Dame wouldn’t get a chance to dish out some revenge on Saban for the three losses while Bob Davie was playing head coach. It is what it is I guess.

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  1. Nebraska, if you ask the Notre Dame recruiting gurus who was the better recruiter – Davie or Willingham – I would venture to say that the vast majority would say Davie. Outside of Willingham’s one great class – his other two were worse than anything Davie recruited. Willingham showed he could recruit coming off a 10 win season when it was easy, but couldn’t do anything once things started to go south.

    At QB, Davie did recruit Olsen (who was a 4 star guy not a 5 star guy), but Olsen transfered on Willingham’s watch. As for Lovecchio, he was a pretty talented QB who simply lost his confidence and also transfered on Willingham’s watch so both of the QB’s you mentioned that were left for Ty left the program while he was in charge.

    Davie also left a guy named Julius Jones for Willingham. What running back of that caliber did Ty leave for Weis?

    On defense, that 2002 squad that Willingham inherited was LOADED with talent – Hilliard, Darrell Campbell, Watson, Vontez Duff, Walton, Glen Earl, Mike Goolsby, George Sapp, Brandon Hoyte, Justin Tuck, Derrek Curry, Ryan Roberts, Greg Pauly, Corey Mays, and Kyle Budinscak were all on that team. If Notre Dame had that defnese last year, how would they have done?

    Davie also didn’t leave his successor with as terrible of a depth problem along both the offensive and defensive lines as well.

  2. Frank: “Of course, Willingham is a mediocre coach and Weis a very good one.” You probably missed that remark, not that I blame you if you did. And yes, Weis did have more to work with. Weis did not have a lot of depth, but he had very capable college players at critical positions (QB, WR, TE, LT, RB) that allowed him to run an offense. Willingham did not. Even on defense, the players that Willingham inherited from Davie were subpar. They only had 4 guys on the whole defense capable of making plays. One of those: Shane Walton, was a senior who left after Willingham’s first year (the same can be said for WR Arnaz Battle on offense). Another was Cedric Hilliard, who was injured in that FSU game in the first year and was never the same afterwards (again, the same was true of RB Ryan Grant). That left Courtney Watson and Justin Tuck, who were good players but not to be confused with A. J. Hawk and Dwight Freeney, OK? Oh yes, and how about losing 4 starting offensive linemen after that first season? You can continue to pretend that Weis would have won 19 games in his first two years with Carlyle Holiday throwing the ball to Gary Godsey and Omar Jenkins, but it isn’t terribly honest. It also isn’t terribly honest to acknowledge that Willingham never had the opportunity to win 19 games in his first two years without beating a single top 20 team either. While Willingham deserves all the bashing that you can send his way for losing to BYU, not having to play Boston College, FSU, Washington State, or even Tennessee and Pitt when they were any good, etc. was very much in Weis’ favor. Sure, Weis is 2 – 0 against Purdue where Willingham was 1 – 2, but having a QB that can actually throw the football and receivers that can actually catch it makes a huge difference, doesn’t it? Granted, Weis is a better coach than Willingham, who will almost certainly be fired at the end of this season at Washington. But this will be the first year that Weis will have to go through what Willingham had to deal with: no QB, no proven skill players, and a tough schedule. Even then, the comparison isn’t quite the same, because after 3 years of Willingham and 2 years of Davie, every single player in the ND program was recruited for a pro – style passing program. But if you are going to keep claiming that Davie left Willingham similar offensive talent, then consider A) with the exception of David Givens – who was probably actually recruited by Holtz – the only Davie recruits that are playing WR in the NFL are guys who played QB in South Bend: Arnaz Battle and Carlyle Holiday and B) the list of passing QBs that Davie brought to ND is follows: Matt Lovecchio, Jared Clark, and Chris Olsen. Remember those guys? Especially Olsen, Davie’s 5 star QB recruit who quit because he couldn’t beat out the true freshman Quinn and then couldn’t even get on the field for 6 – 5 UVA? Willingham was bad for ND, but honestly ND was nowhere near a good situation for Willingham either.

  3. Nebraska,

    Where did I say Weis would beat Saban? All I stated was that Saban got his little dig in about beating ND “three times” when Davie was the coach. A lot of teams beat Notre Dame under Davie.

    If you honestly think Willingham was a better coach than Weis than you must not watch much football. Weis’s last two classes were both as good or better than Willingham’s best class and this year’s class that Weis is building is better than anything since the days of Holtz. On the field Weis has won 19 games in two seasons. Willingham won 21 in three. As for your claim about Weis having more to work with, Davie’s classes were not as weak as the last two Willingham brought in.

    You will see this year just how much Willingham left for Weis with the junior and senior classes. Before you say that the junior class is on Weis, look at how poor it was by December of that year.

  4. “First off, of course Saban had to get his little “we beat them three times” line in reference to his wins over the Bob Davie led Irish. News flash Nick, that isn’t exactly an accomplishment worth bragging about.”

    News flash to you: Notre Dame is hardly playing any better under the current coach than they were under Davie. Wait until Notre Dame beats someone better than #21 Penn State (and even that was early in the season with a new starting QB) before you start presuming that Weis would do any better against Alabama than he did against LSU in his last game. When Weis makes “an accomplishment worth bragging about” (and it won’t be this year) then we’ll see. “even Tyrone Willingham had a winning record vs. Davie”? Not surprising. Willingham beat some Maryland, FSU, Michigan (twice), Washington State, Tennessee, and Pitt (twice) teams that won quite a few games. And no, they all weren’t in that first season: wins over Michigan, Washington State, Tennessee, and Pitt (and I mean the 10 – 3 edition that played in the SEC title game, not the 5 – 6 one that Weis beat next year) came in years 2 and 3 as well. Of course, Willingham is a mediocre coach and Weis a very good one. (Though Willingham advocates – of which I am not one – will correctly say that Weis benefitted from being able to play Willingham’s upperclassmen recruits at QB, TE, and WR … Willingham had to play either Davie’s horrible option personnel or his own guys before they were ready … you cannot seriously claim that Weis would have won as many games this year or last with Carlyle Holiday throwing to Omar Jenkins and Gary Godsey.) But Weis has yet to do anything to demonstrate that he could beat a talented Alabama team coached by Nick Saban. Which, of course, is probably why Saban wants to play ND in the first place. Virtually everyone in the SEC gave LSU a tougher game than Notre Dame did last year, and you had better believe that Saban knows that. Saban also knows the great benefits in terms of recruiting, ranking, publicity, and polls that Southern Cal gets from beating Notre Dame. As a matter of fact, pretty much the entire argument for the media’s ranking Southern Cal over LSU and Auburn was the fact that Southern Cal played ND and the SEC teams didn’t, and had Southern Cal not inexplicably lost to UCLA, it also would have gotten them into the national title game over FLORIDA this year. I expect that Saban is thinking that if Pete Carroll can leap in the polls and sign 5 star recruits for beating up on ND each year, then he can do the same. Weis has a lot more to do before he can convince guys like Saban that ND is anything more than a steppingstone for a good program. Beating ND has gotten opposing teams at least 4 Heismans (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Troy Smith), 3 national title berths (all Southern Cal), and two #1 overall draft picks (Carson Palmer, JaMarcus Russell). Can’t blame Nick Saban for wanting some of that!

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