Irish Stewed: Blood in the Water, Idiots at the Microphone

Swarbrick is on the clock, and McSweeney is on his Rosary Beads (Photo - Icon SMI)

As the curtain was drawn on the ND-UConn game—on yet another late-game collapse by a Charlie Weis-coached team—the sports media talking heads prepared to feast on some pre-Thanksgiving Irish leftovers.

“Coach Charlie Weis’ tenure is all but certain to end after five mercurial seasons of unmet expectations Weis himself was largely responsible for creating,” said Dan McGrath of Sports Illustrated. “A program steeped in lore is at a crossroads, its uncertain future again clashing with its mystical past,” waxed The New York Times. And of course, the ultimate indictment from the ultimate critic: “They are missing physical toughness, mental toughness and discipline,” said Lou Holtz.

Where to go from here? As tempting as it is to add to the emoting cesspool that ND message boards have become over the last several weeks, I’m going to bite my tongue. Weis is as good as gone, and justifiably so. Rest assured I think there are some great Tier-1 candidates, some good Tier-2 candidates, and some ridiculous reaches who would be the exclamation point on ND’s 13-year freefall towards mediocrity. (Let’s just say if Jack Swarbrick uses the phrase “a great institutional fit” in any context whatsoever when introducing Weis’ successor, we are screwed.)

Here’s something to ponder: anyone ever stop to think that, no matter what happens over the next couple weeks, Notre Dame will find a way to right the ship and the media is fundamentally full of shit? No? Okay then, explain to me the following. Notre Dame has had four head coaches in the last 13 years, five if you count O’Leary (and I don’t). The media would have you believe this turnover is a uniquely Notre Dame phenomenon—the scarlet letter we alone bear as the rest of the college football world passes us by. No offense, but people really need to shut the hell up before they hurt themselves.

From 1988 to 1999, it took Oklahoma 12 seasons and five coaches to get to Bob Stoops after its last national championship coach.

Beginning in 1982, Southern Cal burned through six coaches in 20 seasons before an interview process in which they settled for Pete Carroll after their first five or six candidates turned them down.

From 1996 to 2007, it took Alabama 12 seasons and five coaches to get to Nick Saban.

Show of hands: who here can recall editorial-after-editorial about the irrelevance of OU, USC or Bama? Who here can recall every jackass with an opinion grabbing a microphone and screaming to the rooftops that the Sooners, Trojans or Crimson Tide “will never be back again”? Nebraska has had four coaches since 1997. LSU has had seven coaches since 1983. Good programs make bad administrative decisions: IT HAPPENS.

Notre Dame Reportedly Set to Name John McNulty New TE Coach

Make no mistake, the current state of Notre Dame football sucks. I wish I had an ounce of confidence in the Administration to get this next hire right. Coach Holtz was absolutely right to call out this year’s team (and by extension all ND teams in the Weis Era) for being soft and undisciplined. But the next time someone seeks to write Notre Dame’s obituary, pat that person on the back, smile, and say, “If that ever happened, my friend, you’d have nothing to write about.”

The irony with all the legion of so-called “haters” is they’ll do whatever they can to knock Notre Dame off its pedestal, but when no one’s looking they’re the first ones to put the Irish right back on that shelf. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men, “You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties you want us on that wall, you need us on that wall.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go light a candle, say a few Hail Mary’s and pray Swarbrick does his best Hesburgh impersonation.


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  1. POWER RUN THE BALL 10 years ago

    This isn’t even a valid point.. Watching Notre Dame the past yrs u learn a few things. That a lot of these commentators don’t really know what they are talking about because they watch 1 or 2 ND games a season and think they have a valid opinion, then you hear your co-worker repeat the same nonsense… When you watch the games you know which games we are just physically overmatched and others that we are just OUTCOACHED. which was the problem this yr..
    The past 5 coaches were all thought of as decent coaches but proven not to get the job done. (period) If Notre Dame gets a great coach they will be a great team because they are capable of recruiting top notch talent….EG: Clausen, Floyd, Teo, Tate, Rudolph, Evans and hopefully more to come….

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    1. Teo 10 years ago

      I don’t know that this is true. That is, I don’t know that Notre Dame just lacks the coaching. I mean, clearly that is part of it. But, when I see an offensive line as big as ours gets outplayed week after week by Navy, Connecticut, Purdue (yes, Purdue), Michigan — nearly every opponent — it’s discouraging. I just don’t believe it’s only coaching.

      We have talent at so-called skilled positions, but we have an awful defensive front and a bad offensive front, too.

      The NFL is filled with players who did not compete for national titles. They were great players on weak teams. I think Clausen is in that category. I think Tate is, too. And, Rudolph is just plain overrated right now.

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      1. POWER RUN THE BALL 10 years ago

        O-line is massive but they never run power running plays.. their running offense consist of sprint draws, counter and a toss. When 300lb linemen are taking there first steps backwards for run plays that eliminates there advantage. Another thing to look at is the RB’s Hughes is a decent power runner but with no speed. allen hits the hole with speed but can’t break a tackle. Jonas I believe would be the best but plays with no confidence. And all because CW doesn’t believe in the run. He things a swing pass to rudolph or kumara is the same as a smash mouth run. I believe rudolph has phenominal ball skills when the ball is in the air and has great atheleticsm for a big guy. I not sure about his blocking but he is still only a soph where he will get stronger and better at with age.

        ND never tried running the ball against Navy which is why i think they lost…

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      2. POWER RUN THE BALL 10 years ago

        about the talent..
        Remember u may not like the talent but they are nationally the top ranked players, and they are comming to notre dame.. so it is not like we can’t get the best of the best. Ur issue might be scouting not recruiting..

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      3. POWER RUN THE BALL 10 years ago

        defensive front– is pretty weak and I am hopeful some young talent matures into better players..

        It is easy to coach defense with a dominant Defensive line which ND doesn’t have.

        But a coach has a job and that is to stop the other team and nd tenuta hasn’t done that at all this yr..

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  2. nddad98 10 years ago

    That should be the last words said before the hiring of the new coach………but there will be trillions of bytes about the subject, likely none necessary or enlightening.

    It has become evident that CW cannot bring ND to a level of play needed to satisfy the masses…..and there may be no one. Identifying one man that can do it under existing parameters may well be a fruitless undertaking. For sure, there are some bright and determined people stepping to plate to try….but they will likely welcome all the candles, prayer, and Fr. Ted advice they can get. Hope the Lord has has the time and interest to give the Irish a break. If not, I will still enjoy ND football and pull for the success of whomever is chosen to undergo the next 5 years in the ND form of purgatory.

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  3. Teo 10 years ago

    I am watching the end of Alabama/Auburn. It seems that a coach from the SEC or the Big Ten or the ACC has experienced a lot more pressure in their job than a coach from the Big East. There is much more pressure on a coach in one of these conferences than there is on a coach in a primary basketball conference. Look at these Auburn and Alabama fans. Lots of electricity.

    Having said that, I am also watching the UConn/Duke hoops game and recall when Connecticut hired Calhoun from Northeastern. NU had become a bit of a regular in the NCAA when Jimmy joined Connecticut. And, he’s won two titles and has been there for 23 seasons.

    So, I am not sure if there is a way to ensure that the next coach — whether it’s Kelly or Ferentz or Tuberville or someone else — is THE coach. It’s difficult to predict. One thing that is irrelevant, though, is whether someone is Irish Catholic. I want the best coach available, not the best Irish Catholic coach available. And, I would observe one more thng: ESPN and ABC have an interest in our picking an inferior coach, as their main competitor is Notre Dame on NBC.

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  4. Erik 10 years ago

    So im watching the Cincinnati and Illinois game… Im watching one of our former 4 star players in Demetruis Jones playing LB??? He fits the part from playing qb… We need to make an offer to Brian Kelley today and he’s a in your face guy.. I love that… Or hire him right after the game on Saturday. Im sold he is also the offesive coordinator by the way… I love is fire from the coaching perspective.

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    1. Teo 10 years ago

      We’ll see how this game ends up. I don’t think that Cinci is that nasty. I mean, they score a lot of points, but they gave up 29 points to Illinois.

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  5. Scav 10 years ago

    It seems more and more likely that this is Jimmy’s last game at ND. If he does indeed leave, I think he will be remembered as the biggest bust in ND history replacing his current QB coach.

    It all started with the announcement at the College Football Hall of Fame where he said he was going to help ND win 4 championships. Instead, he helped them win 16 games, while they lost 21. His signature moment was a 2nd Tier Bowl win and a comeback victory over Purdue. He will be remembered more for his failed attempts against USC and his fumble at the 1 yard line against Navy, which was the play that turned this season into a bust. If he scores, the season maybe totally different right now.

    Now, I understand that Jimmy is not totally responsible, but when you are the QB at ND, it does fall on your shoulders. When ND went to the BCS in 2005 and 2006, it wasn’t Charlie that took them there, it was Brady Quinn. If Jimmy leaves, he will be viewed as a failure and he will be viewed as the reason Charlie got fired.

    Now, if he came back and played one more year, he would have the opportunity to change everything. If he could lead this team to a BCS win and a Top 10 ranking, he would leave ND as one of the best and he would emerge out of Brady Quinn’s shadow. Also, he would do it without Charlie. Again, if he does leave with Charlie getting fired, the two will be linked together forever as underachievers.

    I know there are millions in his future at the NFL, but there is going to be millions next year as well. He could stay and be the face of College Football, possibly win a Heisman, and possibly win a BCS game. He could leave ND as the best to play QB and be a legend in ND History forever.

    His decision will shape his legecy forever, will he be a hero or a bust…we will find out in the next few weeks.

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    1. McSweeney 10 years ago

      Charlie Weis is the reason Charlie Weis got fired, not Jimmy Clausen. Clausen is on track to leave ND with the highest completion percentage and QB rating of any QB in ND history. He’s widely regarded to be the most accurate passer to ever suti up for the Irish. It’s an indictment of Weis, not Jimmy, that he’ll leave with a sub-.500 record.

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    2. Teo 10 years ago


      Absolutely. Jimmy Clausen will be remembered as the biggest bust in ND QB history.

      However, the pros are filled with QBs who did not have great college careers. Again, so often an offensive line in college is weaker than necessary to protect a quarterback. Who can forget Jimmy’s freshman season, when he literally ran for his life from the moment he took a snap? Of course, the flip side to that is Weis’ unwillingness to allow Clausen to hand off to decent running backs.

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      1. MMA83d 10 years ago

        With NO offensive line for two years Jimmy could have handed off to Jim Brown and it would not have made a difference. For the last two years a hand full of players have kept this team above .500, JC is one of them. His leadership, competiveness, arm strength and accuracy are excellent. Bust does not even enter the conversation. He has shown he is exactly what CW predicted he would be: a great talent.

        I hate to even talk busts at the college level but two Irish QBs come to mind: Blair Kiel and Ron Powlus. Both were huge under achievers with talented teams.

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  6. Jack 10 years ago


    I agree that the coaches you just named would be defensive minded, but Kelly’s defense is not bad and he has had a lot of turnaround on that side of the ball.

    Elroy to review the talent right now at ND I would say it is not top 5 but can be top 10. There defense is young and makes stupid mistakes. Their defensive line stunts out of plays and the tackling is horrible. I was watching Texas play and these players need to learn how to wrap. They want to go for the kill shot everytime and the ball carrier just bounces of and goes for another 15 yds. I also see no one breaking down before the hit to make sure they have perfect position. Again this is fundamentals which this team on defense has not shown. Also stupid bullshit penalties on offense which kill drives. Discipline is the key to winning championships. Players need to know their assignments and execute them. The defense and offense at times, but are like an ADD child and don’t focus the entire time.

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  7. Cliff 10 years ago

    check this out via football scoop

    The Tribune, citing a person close to the core of Notre Dame’s decision makers, reports that Notre Dame wants its next coach to have a defensive background and that Stoops, TCU head coach Gary Patterson and Texas defensive coordinator — and head coach-designate — Will Muschamp are at the top of the list.

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  8. Elroy Kona 10 years ago

    I wrote there is not much “honesty” in your posts. Not that you are “dishonest.” I think you write as a fan, which is fine, this is a blog, but you’re not an analyst. An analyst would work through, wrestle with, all of the shortcomings in the program, the schemes, the talent, the coaching, etc. I think Blue-Gray Sky does a great job with this.

    Complaining about the media is a convenient shortcut to stir up fellow fans, but it adds absolutely nothing to the fan’s knowledge of the program, or what the future holds. This is, after all, why the fan turns to your site. To learn something.

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    1. McSweeney 10 years ago

      What? I’m a blogger telling a story. If I educate someone along the way, great. And if I’m not personally dishonest, then tell me which one of my statements is dishonest. Is it accurate to call out journalists for their ND-centric venom? Yep. Is putting the ND coaching carousel in its proper historical context in respect to other traditional programs a teaching moment? Yep.

      In previous columns I’ve done my fair share of statistical analysis. This column went in a slightly different, though still very much educational direction. The last column by Blue-Gray Sky was a lame rainbows-and-lollipops post about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. That’s some Pulitzer-winning stuff right there.

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