Trying to summon genuine rancor for the upcoming Washington matchup is next to impossible. Washington is a reputable school situated on a beautiful campus. They have a reasonably storied football program that has already embarrassed USC this season (always a good thing), and if there is one group of fans who can empathize with the Irish faithful, it is the U-Dub fanbase. They don’t make excuses for their previous coach. They don’t spew ill-informed, shamelessly transparent op-ed pieces—yes, Mr. Whitlock and Mr. Wilbon, I’m talking to you—that have nothing to do with the quality of a man’s character (or his coaching acumen) and everything to do with the color of his skin. Washington fans know the “Molder of Men,” in lieu of recruiting or game planning, prefers to split his time between lowering expectations with alumni and lowering his handicap on the golf course. They know what we know: Tyrone Willingham is a cancer.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the Washington matchup. What’s there to say, really? Notre Dame has played Washington seven times since 1948 and has never lost. Not only have we never lost, we’ve won the seven games by an average margin of 32-10. For sure, there have been a couple memorable moments in the series. The 54-20 shellacking of the #16-ranked Huskies in ’96 stands as Lou Holtz’s last truly great game as Irish head coach, not to mention the last time I ever personally witnessed ND beat a ranked team in Notre Dame Stadium. And of course, there was the instantly legendary “pass right” game in 2005 (video below).
I’m not suggesting we don’t take this game seriously. If you can find me a QB on our 12-game schedule who’s more dangerous than Jake Locker, let me know. Locker is essentially a likable version of Tate Forcier on steroids. If we see the same blown coverages by our DBs that we saw versus Purdue and Michigan State, ND won’t just lose—they’ll get killed. If we see the same soft DL play and lack of QB containment we saw versus Michigan, ND won’t just lose—they’ll get killed. And if this game comes down to a few decisive plays in the fourth quarter (again), I don’t know if Clausen can bail Coach Weis’ ass out of the fire (again).
Hey, now there’s something worth talking about. Anyone else bothered by the fact coaching is even an issue here? Anyone else bothered by the fact we have to question whether or not Coach Weis can outthink or out-motivate a 35-year-old with all of four games experience as a head coach?
I think Weis is a good guy and a relentless recruiter. I think he possesses a great offensive mind and that if we give him a little more time he may yet figure this head coaching thing out. But here’s the dirty little question the Kool-Aid drinkers seem to be afraid to ask: Has Charlie Weis succeeded only to the degree a Parcells or a Belichick has been there standing over his shoulder saying, “No, Charlie, we can’t freaking do that”?
Show me something, Chuck. Don’t show me sporadic spurts of greatness—show me a team that is disciplined and relentless for four consecutive quarters. Close the deal! Keep your foot on the gas! I’m sick of praying you don’t piss games away because you might be a career assistant disguised as a head coach. I’m sick of Internet fanboys with their heads so far up their asses they are perfectly accepting of a 2-16 mark in your last 18 games versus teams that finished the season with records of .500 or better. I’m sick of salivating every time I read a Cincinnati Bearcats box score. And yes, believe it or not, I’m even sick of blaming Ty.