Irish Stewed: Anchors Aweigh! (But watch out for those knees.)

Notre Dame and Navy renew one of college football's most unique rivalries tomorrow afternoon. (Photo - Icon SMI)

If you don’t know the story behind the Notre Dame-Naval Academy rivalry, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version. In the spring semester of 1943, Notre Dame’s total enrollment declined to 2,623, just six students more than the 1933-34 Depression-era total and nearly a 20% reduction from the fall semester enrollment of 1940. By July 1, 1943, the Navy added 1,851 trainees to the campus. A contract between “The United States of America and University of Notre Dame Du Lac” called for a commitment of $487,711 for equipment, facility alterations, a drill hall and administrative expenses. Notre Dame received $9,000 each month for heat, light and repairs and the maintenance of a recreational drill field and athletic facilities.

One could argue, and I’d for the most part concede the argument, that the Navy’s decision to establish a Navy College Training Program during WWII on Notre Dame’s campus saved the school. It’s a debt we’ll probably never repay. Ending the ND-USNA rivalry is simply not an option, no matter how many times the anti-ND peanut gallery disparages service academies while ignoring their own team’s latest epic I-AA non-conference opponent.

What is with the inane service academy bashing anyway? Am I missing something here? No, Navy isn’t Florida. But ask Buckeye fans if the Midshipmen should be taken seriously. Ask the Mids’ six consecutive bowl game opponents since 2003. Ask the 100-odd teams in Division I-A (out of 119) who have had a worse overall winning percentage than Navy since 2003. Better yet, ask the myopic coaches, players, and fans of the 117 Div I-A teams not named Navy, Air Force or Army if they even know what the terms “warrior” or “hero” really mean. (Here’s a hint: these adjectives shouldn’t be used in the context of a football game, ever.)

Okay, have I fawned over Navy enough yet? Mentioned the history of the rivalry. Check. Mentioned Navy’s impressive 2003-09 record. Check. Saluted our men in uniform. Check. Now that I got that over with, it’s time to float an unpopular subject, Navy’s blocking schemes.

Look, I realize the Mids are not as athletic as most of their opponents and have to compensate accordingly. I realize the triple option is built around a smallish, disciplined o-line using leverage and angles to open seams. But let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Let’s talk about the freaking ankle biters.

With about four minutes to play in last year’s 38-3 embarrassment versus USC, Golden Tate got his second reception of the entire game. He just couldn’t get open. The Trojans loaded, veteran defense swarmed him on every play. Why? Because Michael Floyd wasn’t in. Why? Because in the previous week’s game versus Navy, a Midshipman took a shot at an ND player’s knee—again.

In 2008 Floyd set freshman school records for receptions (46), receiving yards (702) and receiving touchdowns (seven) in, basically, nine games. Then a Navy player “accidentally” collided with his knee on the third play of the Navy game. In the nine full games before Floyd’s injury, Notre Dame averaged 259.4 yards passing. From Navy onward…147.3.

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Weis announced at his Tuesday press conference that Floyd is 100% for Saturday’s Navy game, and yet I’m not excited as I should be. Yes, I think he needs reps before we face Pitt at Heinz Field in primetime next week. But the thought of Floyd getting jacked again scares me. I guess I can take consolation in the fact Floyd hurt his collarbone and Navy seemingly doesn’t know how to hit you anywhere above the knee.

Before anyone jumps on me, make no mistake: before kickoff and after the gun sounds to end the fourth quarter, I fully acknowledge those Navy players on the opposing side of the field as bigger men and bigger heroes than I will ever be. But for those four 15-minute quarters I choose to suspend my respect, if only because I know there will be at least a half-dozen obvious plays that make me want to dig up John Paul Jones’ corpse and beat him over the head with his own shin bone.

Here’s to a well-played and CLEAN game. Please. Pretty please.

GO IRISH!

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139 comments

  1. Shazamrock 10 years ago

    OK, That TV I tossed into the backyard on Saturday… it’s been replaced, the window fixed.
    I did my ranting on an absolutly uncalled for loss. I have voiced my displeasure over our poor coaching and lack of fundementials. And passed along my concern over the patheticlly slow development of our team overall and our inability to advance the program to the next level.
    I took my shots, and listened to others, and then the rest of the college football sporting world, as they took their shots at us as well.
    So today the sun did come up. The world did not end. Nobody got fired.
    I am a ND fan. What more can I say. They are my team. I may not like the current coaching situation, won loss record, or style of play, but it is what it is. Like it or not, I stand behind them to whatever end.
    They are actually fortunet. There are still 3 games remaining. These are chances for redemption. Chances to grow and improve. Oppertunities to restore pride. To earn back respect. To pull together as a team. To rise up and be heard. A chance to do something fullfilling and inspiring.
    Charlie Weis is a disciple of Bill Parcells. I always liked Parcells. He never minced his word or his actions. He always said of his teams: “You are what your record is” For ND that means that we are a ordinary, middle of the road team, that never does anything special or sectacular. There are still 3 games, and the oppertunities that go with them. I will watch, learn, and try to understand who we are and what could we be.

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  2. badnationirish 10 years ago

    I like the way DeltaIrish thinks.

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  3. DeltaIrish 10 years ago

    Pay off Charlie…then proceed directly to Brian Kelly with the checkbbok open. If we cant write a check big enough to lure BK from Cincy (highly doubtful) then hop a plane to Boise and talk to Petersen. If we cant write a check big enough for Petersen, then drop down to Dallas and buy TCU’s Patterson.

    These guys are winning with talent that Charlie wouldnt even call during recruiting. Imagine what they could do with the cupboard as stocked as it now is. And to those who say, “the recruiting would fall off with eiethre of these guys”, I say BS. Bring them in, win, and the recruits will come. Charlie’s doing a wonderful job recruiting….to a mediocre program. We get somebody who can win and recruits won’t look elsewhere.

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  4. Shazamrock 10 years ago

    One play. One lousy play can sum up everything you ever wanted to know about our team.
    Another deep ball over the middle. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s been happing all year. Navy just took their turn that’s all. No, what you watch for is what happends after the catch and run. One of our guys starts pointing fingers. “Pointing Fingers” At ND.
    Navy’s defence is ranked 42nd. And they played like it. Pressuring our QB for a saftey, solid tackiling, hard hitting, swarming to the ball.
    Our defence is ranked 79th. Unfortunetly, they played like as well. Both teams play a simalar schedule. Are Their defensive player’s that much better than ours?
    Pointing fingers is not very polite. Are you listing Mr.Brown & Mr. Tenuta?

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  5. POWER RUN THE BALL 10 years ago

    DO you think texas would lose to navy?

    CW great offense mind is throw it up to tate or floyd and there is a chance that they can come down with the ball. cw did one thing well is get studs to ND at the skilled pos.

    3 man rush 8 man in coverage. ND has a huge OLine- Navy tremendously undersized.
    get what i am saying…. GREAT COORDINATOR? That is not what i see.

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  6. Chitown Copper 10 years ago

    I agree with an above post regarding CW’s recruiting skills and especially his development of our offensive skill players. One name i heard bounced around the last time CW was feeling the heat was Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern. Im not sure if this is the guy for the job but you could argue of all the coaches out there this is the one most likely to at least view ND as a step UP (and that kills me to say it considering im talking about Northwestern). Would anyone want this guy or does anyone think he has what it takes?

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  7. JDH 10 years ago

    You make some good points Scav. ND is very much in a catch-22 right now. I’ve already said that I believe ND will lose at least 1 more game this season, but probably 2. Their momentum is gone with this catastrophic loss. But, by some miracle, let’s say they go 10-3 with a decent bowl win. If so, I say Charlie should stay one more year, given the talent we have coming back (his recruits). No matter what happens, TENUTA SHOULD BE FIRED ASAP. We were sold a bill of goods. He sucks, period. TENUTA has done nothing, brought nothing, contributed nothing. Can him and fast.

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  8. Scav 10 years ago

    I know a lot of us are screaming for some answers and in sports, the easiest thing to do is throw the coach under the bus, but I’m really tired of seeing ND start over again and again. In college, you need to develop your program. I look at CW’s coaching career in 2 parts, 05/06 & 07 thru the present. In 2005, all we wanted was a team that could score points and compete with the big boys. Weis came in and re-wrote the ND record books. In 2006, we had NC hopes and a Heisman canidate. He was 19-6, 2 BCS Bowls and we all thought ND was back.

    However, in 2007, the previous coaching staff left him NOTHING, so he had to start building his program with Freshman and Sophmores. We all know the end result was 3-9, followed by a 7-6 and a bowl win. This year still has a shot at turning out to be pretty good.

    Thinking about this, I looked at some info on Mack Brown and here is what I found:

    In his early years at UT, Mack Brown was sometimes referred to as “Coach February,” a nickname that indicated he performed well during the important recruiting season, but failed to follow up with equally impressive wins on the field. His detractors felt that with all the resources at his disposal at Texas, combined with the talent he was recruiting from high school programs, that he should have more to show for it than appearances in the Holiday Bowl or Cotton Bowl Classic. They felt that he should be playing for Big 12 titles or even National Championships instead.

    Although Brown consistently led the Longhorns to a bowl game to cap off each season, his first six years he was not able to lead them to a Bowl Championship Series game, having to settle each year for the Holiday Bowl or Cotton Bowl Classic. His record in these games was 3 and 3, with two of the 3 losses coming at the hands of supposedly inferior teams as judged by the rankings headed into the games.

    Texas eventually defeated the 2005 USC Trojans 41–38, highlighted by a 4th down run by Vince Young in the final minute of the game. The win gave the Longhorns their first National Championship in 35 years. Many consider the 2006 Rose Bowl to be the greatest college football game of all time.

    Here was a guy that was considered a great recruiter, but just couldn’t get the job done. Texas stayed with him because he could recruit and look where they are now. It took Texas 8 YEARS of great recruiting before they were able to win the NC, which was their first in 35 YEARS.

    My point is this, Charlie Weis has given this team a dynamic offense and he has recruited well. Is a new coach going to make us better offensively and is a new coach going to be a better recruiter? CW is considered one of the best recruiters in the country, how do we know someone else can recruit to ND like he can?

    I understand that the coaching is not that good right now especially on defense, but how do we know the next person will be any better? We should let this season play out. Next week is Pittsburgh, who could be a Top 10 team. If ND wins, is this the first “Signature” win everyone wants since Michigan in 05 doesn’t count? If they happen to beat UConn and then Stanford, will Navy just be a day we didn’t have it like Oregon and Iowa yesterday? And can we look at the career of Mack Brown and realize that if you have someone that can truly recruit, good things will eventually happen?

    Time will tell. Go Irish

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    1. J Mack Attack 10 years ago

      There are some major differences in the Mack Brown comparison that you leave out. Mack Brown turned North Carolina into a very successful program before Texas lured him away. He was 10-2 and 10-1 his last two seasons at NC.

      More importantly, he has a 82% winning percentage in his twelve seasons at Texas. Eight of those years resulted in 10+ wins for the year. His worst year was 9-5 at Texas. He is 8-3 in bowls at Texas. I am not sure how you can compare Charlie Weis to him on any level.

      Mack Brown is a winner and Charlie is another failed experiment by ND in their never ending quest to groom their own legendary coach (ie Faust, Davies). Texas chose Mack Brown because he had a proven record and was a hot coach. They suffered for 10 years under McWilliams and Mackovic after big runs in the 70’s and 80’s. They wanted respect again. They went after a winner from another program and the recipe paid off as it always does. ND needs to realize that this is the only approach that can correct their problems. After the Faust experiment, they were smart enough to bring in Holtz. I think we are at the same crossroads. Please bring in a proven guy who knows how to coach and recruit. You can not be successful in the college ranks doing one and not the other. Too often this simple fact goes overlooked. Consider Phil Fulmer. do the research before you shoot this down. He has a very impressive resume in the SEC and is hungry to win another championship. If Fulmer was available after Holtz or Davies or Willingham left, ND would have leaped at the chance to get him.

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  9. dallas 10 years ago
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  10. C-Dog 10 years ago

    OUCH OUCH and OUCH!!

    We lost to a well disciplined bunch of heroes training to take a bullet or bomb for our country. My hat’s off to Navy. I also applaud the article and wish the punks at ESPN who think sport fans are supposed to be a bunch of unemployed lecherous deadbeat dads, would read it. There once was a time when sports were about honor, discipline and a celebration of a better country. Navy still embodies that. Notre Dame would if we played to our potential instead of underachieving.

    In NCAA football, I mostly see teams who make a mockery out of the student in student-athlete, who think if everyone does it, breaking rules is OK. I also see folks who turn a blind eye to the fact that football has done more damage than good to the kids in poor neighborhoods in this country. The Todd Marinoviches, and Maurice Clarett’s are a necessary sacrifice to the team winning.

    A successful Notre Dame was the antithesis of that. But we aren’t successful. We lost to the team who lost to Temple. Temple is ahead of us in the polls. We lost to a 5-5 Michigan who just lost to Purdue.

    Our offensive line played well 60% of the time. Once upon a time ND had offensive lines that played well for an entire game. Our skilled players played their hearts out. On offense that is. The defense used to be tough. Our defenses have not been tough for at least 5 years.

    Our coaching is smart, but cannot find a way to run a complete program. Weis may be a great offensive mind, but those guys make great coordinators not head coaches. You need to start with defense and then round out with a good offensive.

    I am always hopeful, but at this point I do wonder where this program is headed.

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    1. Teo 10 years ago

      Well put, CDog. Well put.

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  11. Mike 10 years ago

    Wow. I’ve read a lot of stupid things around the internet, but this is on a whole new plane. Here’s the play last year when Floyd was hurt:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xb2ymt_stupidblogger_sport

    The arrow points to Ram Vela, the player who ended up hitting Floyd. He is very obviously trying to tackle James Aldridge, and never even sees Floyd coming. Floyd is also not engaged with anyone else at the time, considering his man is the one who actually made the tackle.

    News flash: people get hurt in football. Irresponsible posts like yours are what give bloggers a bad name.

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    1. McSweeney 10 years ago

      Newsflash: Although I disagree with the manner in which he public aired the subject, Coach Corwin Brown publicly took Navy to task for their illegal blocking. The Mids play dirty. This is a fact.

      Word of advice: make sure you have a leg to stand on before trying to take the high road.

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      1. Mike 10 years ago

        Uh, I did have a leg to stand on. I actually posted the video of the play you referred to. You clearly had no idea what you were talking about. Corwin Brown is hardly the authoritative voice on the matter.

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      2. McSweeney 10 years ago

        How about this authoritative voice:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcTaRThg2mQ&feature=player_embedded

        If this kid is wearing anything but a Navy uniform, he gets ejected from the game. It’s a conscious, malicious, illegal attempt to injure an opposing player. End of debate. I’ll take my lumps for misrepresenting one freaking play. But anyone says Navy doesn’t play dirty has shit for brains.

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      3. Mike 10 years ago

        Well we all know Notre Dame doesn’t cut block!

        http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xb4dj6_sack_sport

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  12. fxm 10 years ago

    Any of the desired coaches can be coerced for a $6 million annual retainer, it is not about anything but that. We have the money, I don’t know about the desire. Kind of like the big league clubs that don’t bother signing anyone because their fans show up and pay no matter what.

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  13. SteelFanRob 10 years ago

    I will never, ever root against ND! I don’t care who’s coaching. I didn’t do that during the Faust era, the Davie era, or the Willingham era, and I’m not going to start now. I understand the frustrations with CW. And if he loses the next 3 games (a real possibility), he should do the honorable thing and resign and not force ND to fire him and eat his contract. I would love nothing else than for CW to win a national title next year and in his own cocky style force us to apologize. I’d love to have to eat my words. It would be the best meal I’ve ever had!

    I’m not sure about Fulmer. That UT program was awash in scandal which is why he was forced out. Besides UT hadn’t done anything in years with Fulmer who was living off past glories. Like I said, the next coach has possibly the legacy and future of ND football on his shoulders. Do you really want to entrust all that to a coach who was run out of town?! Not me!

    Right now, the three names J Mack mentions are all worthy candidates who are at the top of their games. I’m just not sure any of them see ND as a step up. That’s sad!

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  14. J Mack Attack 10 years ago

    I keep hearing Gruden as a replacement. I love Gruden but I doubt the administration will choose another NFL guy who has no track record in the recruiting department. I do think that Petersen of Boise, Kelly of Cincy and Paterson of TCU are all excellent choices and would do a great job with the talent ND has. The problem for each of these guys right now is that all are in contention for the BCS and you would not be able to lock them up until Jan when their season is over unless one of them loses and falls out of the BCS. It could be a recruiting nightmare as well as a mess with players on the fence about their future at ND (Clausen and Tate). I would have to think that each of those coaches would go to ND or somewhere else where they could have the ability to win a championship. Let’s face it that each of them will never win a championship with where they are today. A one loss Florida, Bama, Texas or any SEC or Big 12 team or ND will always get the nod over an undefeated Boise, TCU or Cincy and rightfully so for the schedules/conference each play. Unlike the previous coaches we have brought in recently, the next coach who comes in will have four solid years of talented recruits that has not been the case since the Holtz years. They just need someone who knows how to coach them. Charlie is a great QB and WR coach. You clearly see his influence in these areas. The problem is that he has never had much of a focus on other areas which is a recipe for failure. The one name that I have not heard mentioned and I think he is probably the best option is Phil Fulmer. He was run out of Tenn way too soon and still has something to prove to those who ran him out. He is the most underrated coach in football. His record is amazing in the SEC and he is used to dealing with high expectations from the Tenn media and alumni which is just as crazy in any big time SEC program. Unlike Charlie, Fulmer knows that you win football games with big, athletic guys on the O and D lines. It would be refreshing to see ND sack a QB again. Fulmer to me is a no brainer for a coach who you could lock down as soon as the season is over which would also limit the damage on the recruiting front by eliminating the uncertainty and doubt that is now setting in with the commits they have and those on the fence. The best thing about Fulmer is that he can adapt his style to the style of his players. He has been successful with a pocket passer like Peyton and with scrambling QB like Tee Martin. He knows how to adjust to his strengths and does not just stick to what he knows like Weis who made such a ridiculous statement to this point yesterday in his press conference. When you just get your but handed to you by Navy, you don’t respond with a comment about how you do not change your style. May be it is time you do change Charlie because what you are doing is not working. I can not believe I am saying this but I am actually rooting for ND to lose another game so this clown gets the ax.

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