The Wreckage

The Notre Dame Football Program has effectively been wrecked for 15 seasons. It was destroyed the moment Bob Davie was hired as head coach to replace Lou Holtz. From that point forward, the program wasn’t run competently, from a program level, until, perhaps, Brian Kelly was hired to replace Charlie Weis. We don’t know. We wont know for a while. Even if Kelly does excellent work in fixing what is broken, the program would still look broken for a while. To get out of this “program debt,” if you will, first the fundamentals must be fixed. It’s like taking steps to balance the federal budget to fix the nation’s debt. Even if you manage the gargantuan task of balancing the budget, you’re still in massive, massive debt. Even if Kelly had set the college football world on fire, and won 10 games this season, or even if he’d just won the Tulsa game by 2 points, it wouldn’t have changed the status of Notre Dame Football. Notre Dame Football would still be fundamentally wrecked.

Before Willingham, there was Davie, the illustration of a fact of life; that if you smile at the right people and subvert the others (or both), you can get ahead career-wise. You may not be able to operate a self-serve hotdog machine, but you can become the head coach at the highest profile football program in the country. And while you do that, you can completely ignore the offensive side of the game because it’s just so much fun watching your defense kick the crap out of it every day in practice. Plus, if you never develop half of your team, you can just keep scapegoating it right into a contract extension, particularly if your boss arrived at his position is similar fashion to the way you arrived at yours.

Before Weis, there was Willingham. I don’t even know where to start. Do we even talk about all of the golf, or is that pretty well covered? Do we go over the fact that Washington went ahead and proved everyone’s point for us, that he was an absolutely incompetent head football coach? Do we discuss that his technique in recruiting consisted mostly of refusing to leave a recruit’s couch until someone snapped? Or that his best offensive recruit in his tenure only got recruited because another actual recruit did the work? Do we discuss that he recruited OL like he was running a flag football team? How about the installation of the Bubble Screen Offense West Coast Offense with Holiday as starting QB?

Hiring Davie wrecked the program. But all the wreckage was set aflame by Florida State 7 years ago to this day, when they walked into Notre Dame Stadium and scored 37 unanswered points. The Irish were so torched that evening, that it should have sent a signal to any of us who didn’t know it yet. The program was a wreck, just laying there, unable to muster even a semblance of a response to a throat stomping. And Willingham was so dumbfounded as to what had just happened that he actually said, “I don’t know if I can explain it because if we could, hopefully we would have had some answers prior to this moment.”

But sometimes it takes a signal, like the light of a flaming wreck of a program, quite a while to be received. And sometimes it can be hard to see if you’re looking the other way.

Enter Weis, with the gleam of his superbowl rings, a fresh breath of bravado to infuse into a down-trodden team, and the capability to slice and dice his way out of most games, at least until it was time to pay the piper for sins committed before he took the reigns and after. Weis never had a plan to rebuild a program. Weis could just keep calling plays that should work. Right? So long as he had the players.

At least Weis realized he needed the players. And he realized he needed to go get them. He at least did that. He needed to consort with sports psychologists, ND faculty members, and the Patriots to even decide on a direction – every year – in terms of how to go about building his program, but at least he knew he needed talent to do it. Unfortunately, he apparently thought that talent, once on campus, was a finished product. And meanwhile, that talent was not working on blocking or tackling in practice, and was competing in tater-tot eating competitions.

And remember, through the vast majority of all of this time and all of these coaching regimes, we had Kevin White, the “Athletic Director” of Notre Dame, busy trying to figure out a way to create synergy between the ND brand, and local car dealerships. Answer: Jumbotron! The guy never even considered that the answer to “maximizing the ND Brand” could be “win.” And if you demanded wins, then he was going to schedule the way Bob Davie had always wished ND would.

This is the wreckage. This is the thing first cratered by the hiring of Bob Davie, set aflame by Florida State, and then left smoldering in front of its fans as it loses to Navy 3 out of the last 4 years and Tulsa after the worst week in program history. But do the fans even see it? Can they allow themselves to see it? When they look in the abyss left after 15 seasons, do they appreciate the depth to which it plummets, or do they fool themselves into thinking that where the light stops, so too must the drop?

This isn’t to say that things can’t be recovered. This isn’t an estimate as to how long it might take to recover the program. It’s not even an argument over who actually can and will complete the massive job. It’s just an effort to create some context and derive some appreciation for where things stand.

This program is wrecked. It’s been wrecked for a long damned time. And the only way to actually “rebuild” the program is to actually do some program “building.”

But thus far, fans seem to be caught up in minutiae. If the program’s direction were a forest, many of them would be walking into trees, and saying, “Ah ha! I recognize this tree! It looks just like others I’ve seen recently! We need a new forest!” And they’d be saying that without most of the forest having even been planted yet.

I’m as frustrated as any ND fan out there. Probably more so, really. Because whereas so many other fans want to identify and correct the “some thing” that is broken with this program, I’m the one standing off to the side right now, shaking my head, wondering why it is that these fans have no idea.

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  • The Biscuit

    I 100% agree with all of this. I am as guilty as any, if not moreso, of getting stuck on an individual tree. If that tree would just kick the Damn FG, I would have a lot easier time of looking for the freaking forest.

  • JakeDC

    I totally agree with this perspective. We have to stop taking the short view–there’s no quick “if we hire the right coach” fix here.
    There’s been a lot of luck involved in obscuring just how bad ND football got under Davie and Willingham, and what a mess it was under Weis–even the successful seasons under those coaches were flukes (or in Willingham’s case in his first season, some of the best defensive luck ever). ND is not one or two (or 10) bad playcalls away from being a good team.

    I don’t know either if Brian Kelly is going to be able to pull us out of the morass–ND, despite all these vaunted recruiting classes, is not an “on the brink of winning” team that just needed someone who knew how to coach football. It is clearly a true rebuilding project–it needs someone who knows how to coach football with the time to build a balanced TEAM of good players, not just a hodge-podge collection of highly rated recruits that leave gaping holes at certain positions.

    From 97-09, our peer schools with similar win/loss percentages are Clemson, Arkansas, Iowa, UCLA, Purdue, Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Missouri. That’s where the school has been for the last 15 years. To kids born in the 90s (soon to be all kids in college) those are the teams ND is like. No coach is going to turn that around in a year–especially in a day and age where there’s more parity than ever in CFB (which was not the case in 1986).

    It’s even worse if you look at just the last 5 years — which shows that not only has the program been bad for a long time, but it has recently gotten worse. ND’s peers for the 2005-2009 seasons are Pitt, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Southern Miss, Fresno State, Western Michigan, Arkansas, South Carolina, and UCONN and (one of the most ignored stories in CFB–the death of), Michigan (Which has the EXACT same record as ND).

    We’re just not in that much different a spot than Tennessee and Michigan — once great programs in a state of disrepair. And turning it around at ND isn’t going to be any easier than at those two schools. Denard Robinson may single-handedly save Rich Rod’s job, but you saw that game–Michigan is still a long way away from being a good team (I mean, we darn near beat them with a guy who couldn’t start for his JUCO team at QB, they’re probably looking at 7-5 as a best case scenario). And they’ve got plenty of top recruits as well. The same with Tennessee, which is in a disastrous post-Kiffin state. Neither of those schools is going to get a quick fix, and neither is ND.

  • domer03

    God… so right on. I hated Kevin White even when he was at ASU. I couldn’t stand him when he was at ND. That man was all about marketing, didn’t care about the quality of the product he was selling. Beauchamp and he drove this program into a ditch.

    I think you’re right that most people don’t realize how bad it is. That is why I can’t stand NDNation et. al., where they think that it will all work out if we just fire BK and bring in Bob Stoops, or Urban Meyer, or knute Rockne’s house-keepers grandchild, or Mickey Mouse, or, or, or… NO! the problems are deep and I really think that we have to rely on BK to fix it. He was the choice not just to coach the team, but to rebuild the program. I hope it turns out he was the right choice.

  • Kevin Morrissey

    I am a huge fan of Notre Dame and love it blindly. I think that is us fans’ biggest fault. I don’t think the University cares about winning at this point in time. We don’t need to win to put fans in the stadium. We still have a contract with NBC when we are only .500 or so. It is a similar situation to the Cubs. If money is coming in, do you really need to win? Other programs such as Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida…they need to win. Notre Dame? As a business, which is what they are, they don’t need to win to turn a profit. I think the problem lies in the administration, and the power trip they have. Remember people, this is a Roman-Catholic school led by priests who are as power-driven as anyone. There is a reason Stoops and Meyer don’t want to come here. They have all the power in the world at their respective schools. Holtz was losing power at the end of his career here, and look what was being produced on the field. Success begins at the top.

    • Joe Magarac

      Remember people, this is a Roman-Catholic school led by priests who are as power-driven as anyone.

      Huh? Have you even met any Holy Cross priests? I have met many (I was a seminarian back in the day), and saying that they are “power driven” is about as gross a misunderstanding as anyone could make about anyone. Each priest gives up sex and money for life and goes through six years of training post-college, and he does this knowing that in all likelihood he will spend his life teaching high school, or serving at some remote parish, or dealing with 18-22 year olds and their nonsense as a dorm rector. Nothing powerful about any of those jobs.

      ND has a lot of problems, and some of them can be laid at the feet of Presidents (and Fathers) Malloy and Jenkins. But “power-driven”? Come on.

      • Kevin

        Yeah I have met priests and they have thrown away parochial education in my hometown by being lazy and wanting to show everyone who the the boss was, which is led by the bishop and the closing of a majority of parochial schools. I went to Catholic grade school k-8th and Catholic high school. Wouldn’t you say you hold some bias in favor of the priests as you were a seminarian for awhile?

  • Johnny Drama

    Thanks for the well needed insight. I, like many ND fans, willingly get my heart broken every year despite any cautious optimism that I try to convince myself towards. The problems are much deeper than a last second interception. Nobody wants to admit it because we always think we have a chance every year.
    Regardless of how we feel about Brian Kelly now, it has no bearing on what happens in the future. Personally, I am trying to withhold judgment on him until year 3. I was suckered in by the phenomenal starts of Ty and Weis that it hurt even more when things dissipated like smoke in the wind. We must go through more fire as a program to build something more substantial than we have. Better earlier in BK’s career than later. If Weis’ seasons were flip flopped and he ended his tenure with 2 BCS losses, I believe he would still be our coach. Whoever is at the helm of the program, be it Kelly or someone else, will require patience on all parts. The gamble is we will never know if Kelly is capable of rebuilding Notre Dame until he does it. My fear is that if he can’t do it, who can?

  • Brendan

    From Spencer Hall’s Alphabetical this week:

    O is for Onus. This week’s extremely judgmental second-guessing will follow Brian Kelly. 42 seconds are on the clock. You have a good field goal kicker, and are on the Tulsa 21 after running the ball on first down. YOU MAKE THE CALL. Do you:

    1.Allow time to run out, then kick a field goal, then stand like a befuddled muppet on the sideline?
    2.Fumble, recover, and then lose 23 yards on the play and attempt a hopeless FG stoically?
    3.Throw a fade into the endzone for an interception on second down?
    4.Throw a fade into the endzone for an interception, and then call Jon Bon Jovi on your personal cell phone just to show everyone that even though you are a terrible head coach, you know famous people and stuff?
    If you said one, you are Bob Davie, and are fired. From what? Everything. if you said two, you are Ty Willingham, and why are you reading this when there are golf greens just sitting out there unputted? If you said three, you are Brian Kelly, who went for six when three would have done with his inexperienced backup QB. If you said four, you are Charlie Weis, and are really insecure despite having made more money than most people will ever dream of seeing coaching mediocre college football.

    (The onus was on Kelly to make the right call, and as much as we like Kelly, the deep throw was insane and Miles-ish at best. At least Les waited until there were less than ten seconds to go before doing the same playcall to Auburn in 2007, and got an incompletion out of it before a game-winning FG. a win out of it, because he is Les Miles.)

  • http://rut4nd TLNDMA

    After saturday, I’ve been telling myself I have to dial it back. Not dial back my love of ND football, but dial back my expectations. This program has sunk to low depths. Depths lower than any of us thought. Broken is the correct word.
    There’s a sadness to all this, and I feel it in your posts. We all yearn for those days when those gold helmets would come out of that tunnel and the boys would exemplify what “play like a champion” meant. Now it is a metal sign that other teams scoff at as they play us.
    We have no choice but to believe that Brian Kelly can turn this program around and start it on a long hard climb back. There are some good players here and hopefully with some good coaching they can develope into winners. I caution though, look at those next two schedules. Progress may be slow, if you measure it by wins and losses.
    The 86′ team was 5&6, but you felt something had changed. That season gave you hope. That may be all we can wish for right now.

  • Nate

    Great post, and though you and I may disagree on specifics, I think we feel the same way. The “forest for the trees” is what I was also trying to get at with my rant in the sideline. It’s not a coach, or a scheme, or any ONE thing that’s going to fix ND. We’re not the Old Notre Dame anymore, and we need to realize that. That doesn’t mean we can’t be great again, and I hate those people who suggest that we embrace our new mediocrity and accept that we’re the peer of Northwestern and Stanford, that we can have a few good years interspersed with .500 seasons. Screw that. But right now, we’re no better than those teams, and a good deal worse. Other historical powers have had runs of bad seasons too, only to come back and become prominent again, because they don’t keep expecting it to just happen for them because they’re Oklahoma, or USC, or whomever.

    Joe Montana, Johnny Lujack, or Tom Clements aren’t stepping through that door to play QB. Ross Browner and Alan Page aren’t going to sack the QB or stuff the runner for us. Ara isn’t going to design a defense to contain the Navy rushing attack. The past is past. Focus on where we are, and where we want to be, and map out a plan to get from here to there, because there is no “should” be. Believing we’re entitled to a championship football team doesn’t make us one.

    I think Kelly is our best chance to get it done. I think we need 5 years to get there. There is no instant fix, and we’re not going to work on a 3 year plan either with the scheduling the way it is. But even at 5 years, is that enough to tell if the rot has been cleansed and healing has begun? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • NDAlum

    Kelly is not the answer either. By the time he resigns or his contract is not renewed, the program will be in shambles.

    He and his staff have lost games owing to poor preparation and bad — really bad — game-day decisions.

    And that’s very worrisome.

    For the sake of the players, though, I hope you see something that I don’t.


      The program has been in “shambles” for a decade and a half. People making the argument you are making would apply CPR to a corpse that’s been in the morgue for 2 months.

      This is no time for triage.

      • The Biscuit

        I agree. But…I think what makes it hard for people, me included, is that Kelly has made it difficult to believe that he has an approach that will, in fact, build the program. Boneheaded decisions(even if they are debatable, he hasn’t seemed to fall on the side where the majority of fans/coaches/pundits think he should’ve), poor game planning/prep (Navy, Stanford), and a lack of development in key areas over the season (Crist), along with a bunch of injuries (everyone) is masking anything along the lines of progress or ‘building’. Recruiting was one area where he seemed to be on a roll, but there’s been major steps backwards over the past month. Maybe it’s happening. Maybe this is all part of some plan. But man it’s hard to see it.

        • domer_mq

          What was “poor game planning” for Stanford? Not saying it didn’t exist. Just remind me. Too lazy to go back and dig it up.

          As for development, just about every 2nd stringer who’s been on the field has looked markedly better than he did early on. And Crist himself was demonstrably better at recognition than early on. Maybe people should learn to read coverages.

          • The Biscuit

            Stanford was probably more of an adjustment thing – the O was completely unable to adjust to their Drop 8 coverage package. So I was a little loose in the wording there. For Navy it was planning on D, along with the inability to ‘adjust’ (although per Birddog no adjustment was really needed).

            I agree that we’ve seen some progress with a few players, but I’d also argue that we haven’t seen much in just as many others. And I disagree on Crist. Maybe he was reading the coverages better, but if he was then he was just making a ton of terrible decisions on when/where to throw the ball in those coverages. For every pick he threw, there were 2-3 more per game that he tossed right into a defender’s arms and he was lucky to get away without one.

          • domer_mq

            It took Clausen 10 games into his Soph. year to get drop-8 figured out. Drop-8 can come in about 4 dozen flavors. It’s not like Kelly could just say, “when they drop 8 guys, do this one or one of these 3 things.”

          • The Biscuit

            Yeah, but he could’ve said ‘let’s run the ball a bit more so they can’t just hang out back there all day’. Instead, he had Crist try to throw balls into 3 inches of space over and over. Boo.

          • http://herloyalsons irishjh2

            Its not so much poor planning as not adjusting.Anyone watching the game would know that wherever number 41 lined up for Stanford,thats where the play was going to be run.ND was outmanned by at least one p[layer at the point of attack on every play.

  • Geoffrey

    I agree. BK is trying to make something out of wreckage. Add in this season’s injuries, and it is not surprising that the result is pure pain.

  • Mark Makers

    You need big stones to make that call and even bigger ones to defend it after it blows up. The consequence of an interception couldn’t have been lost on BK before the play was called. But he did it anyway. There had to have been something more at stake (at least in his mind) that we aren’t getting. Competing in a real game do-or-die scenario? A life lesson that it’s tough to kick, pass or piss into the wind?? I don’t know, but the obviousness of the call is glaring. One thing that has always struck me about good coaches is that they need an overall perspective. BK has a track record of being a good coach. I just wonder what he was trying to teach with such a bone head call.

  • http://ndnation brendan fisher

    I couldnt agree more with this opinion. Kevin White was absolutely the worst athletic director. The only hit he had was with Mike Brey. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. As long as we don’t learn anything new about the terrible tragedy from last week, let BK give it his best shot before we add another coach to the ND payroll. However, don’t good coaches recognize the need to keep the ball away from the opposition (meaning run the ball more) when its clear that the D is having a hard time getting off the field?

  • Mike Gorman

    We hired the wrong coach yet again. We hired another Charlie Weiss a coach who only worries about the offense and his QB and not the defense, special teams, etc. We hired another arrogant coach who thinks he is smarter than the other guy which is why he had Rees throw the pass at the end of the game instead of kicking the field goal. The Kelly statement afterward still grinds on me. Weiss nor Kelly have any interest in running the ball they lack the patience. The last time ND was great we ran the ball, we were physical and we had a great coach in Holtz unlike what we have now.


      Interesting insight from a dude still spelling it as “Weiss.”

      • Brendan

        I think it was One Foot Down that had a post a year or two ago about how to spot a troll on an ND board. One of them was that the person talks about “Weiss”. I don’t know why it’s so common, but man, it sure is an easy litmus test.

      • Mike Gorman

        So I mispelled, is that all you got? I still would have kicked the field goal instead of asking my Freshmen to throw his 54 pass. keep living in your dream world pal but when you wake up we will still have 4 wins and have been beaten by navy and Tulsa.

        • domer_mq

          Just pointing out that your attention to detail doesn’t really indicate that you’re actually, you know, paying attention.

        • Brendan

          No, it’s not all I got, but it seemed like all that was needed at the time.

  • Whitecoat

    Sorry, but it all comes down to coaching. We have 4 star players, not 2 star, and have had them since Willingham. If Kelly wanted to make a bowl, he should have coached like he wanted a bowl – and not just in the Tulsa game. For the past 4 games his teams have not been well prepared and shown any emotion to win – but flat and not caring.

  • alli

    We do not have anything close to four star players. Do you guys watch SEC football? Our guys are slow as molasses, lumbering across the field. Kyle Rudolph is one of the slowest guys I’ve ever seen.

    Interesting that y’all bring up the FSU game. I was there (my freshman year at ND) and was reminiscing about that game as I drove through Tallahassee this past weekend. The icing on the cake was watching the Noles dig up a piece of our turf for their stupid graveyard. Ever since, I have had zero expectation about being able to win at home.

    Of course, how could we have any kind of home-field advantage, when our fans are quiet and deferential? It’s like we don’t even get mad about anything. Instead of yelling like the world’s about to end on third down, we shake our stupid keys and think it’s intimidating. We change the color of the shirt every year, so the fans who come back for the games never know what color to wear – meaning, every team who walks into our house, our stadium, can wear their ONE color and be more intimidating and unified than our entire fanbase.

    There are problems top to bottom. It’s depressing as hell. Blaming it on a coach without looking at the bigger picture – and making the relevant comparisons – is folly.


      I don’t think you actually watch football. Kyle Rudolph, when healthy, has proven time and time again to be a premier talent. Entire defenses worried themselves sick over what to do about him. Do yourself a favor, and stop trusting your eyes.

    • Pat

      I think we have talent. It is just grossly underutilized. For years now there has been little ‘fight’ in the Fighting Irish. And that’s possibly the saddest and most depressing fact of them all.

      This team wasn’t about the barnstorm the BCS. But Navy? Tulsa? Come on. We are a laughingstock.


        If Oregon and BSU teach us anything, it’s that getting a team to execute extremely well is the “secret sauce” of the college football world. And it was back in the day for Holtz and Ara too, but back then we had 100-120 HS all americans on the roster. Much easier to get a guy to execute flawlessly when, if he doesn’t, someone else will.

        • Pat

          Executing flawlessly is the secret to winning 10-12 games/year. I never had those type of expectations for this team. It shouldn’t take 100+ All-Americans to beat Tulsa; the current roster should suffice. It shouldn’t take six first-round draft pick offensive lineman to get a one-yard push against Navy. I would never ask this squad to compete for national championships year in and year out, like the Ara days. I just wanted them to at least be able to beat the teams they are supposed to beat.

          • domer_mq

            It absolutely shouldn’t take all that to beat Tulsa. It probably would have helped not to have the worst week in program history before the game. Though I do think the loss also illustrated that our “current roster” hasn’t been developed such that it could score more than 30 points on Tulsa – one of the worst defenses in the country. We’ve many miles to go. Even had ND won the game, it would have illustrated that we’re still looking at a wreck of a program.

    • Brendan

      Right on. Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, all slower than guys like Randy Moss and Andre Johnson. What’s up with that?

  • Pat

    We really, really stink.

    Not sure anyone on this teams knows how to win.


      Considering our 4th year seniors started as Freshmen in 2007, no. I don’t think any of them have any idea what it’s like to win in CFB, and thus can’t possibly know what it takes to win.

      • Pat

        Yeah, I think that’s right. Mediocrity has become commonplace — and seemingly acceptable.


          I think a lot of the kids on the team find it unacceptable, but they’ve no idea what it actually takes. It’s not just about working hard, it’s about working hard in the right ways. Lots of kids all over the country are working hard.

          • Mike Gorman

            It is coaching. We are getting beat
            by teams with less talent but we are
            getting out coached. How many times in
            the past few years have we been beat by
            a freshmen QB or a second string FB like
            navy this year?

      • Mike Gorman

        So we have experienced players but still cannot win?

  • MouthOfTheSouth

    I had an inkling of this after Navy and again this weekend after Tulsa. Thank you for articulating it.

  • WilhelmD

    I think the thing that mystifies me the most is that during his press conference earlier in the week Coach said the key was getting to a bowl game because we NEEDED the extra 15 practices. A win against Tulsa and Army was all he needed to reach that goal and THAT is what he should have focused on – i.e. you run once more up the middle and kick the freakin’ FG. Now, barring miracles I no longer hope for, we will NOT have those 15 extra practices.

  • Jim P

    I get it. We’re a disaster program right now and personally I see no hope in sight. We have talent that BK is trying to develop BUT that talent infusion needs to be maintained. His dumb-ass game decisions are costing us recruits!

    I’ve always been willing to sacrifice wins in the short term, in order to focus on the long term, but those loses have to indicate progress. This past week BK effectively killed all momentum he had gained within the program and with the future players. It all comes down to one play. You can get your players to ‘buy in’ to your philosophy, and work hard for the coach, but when your coach costs you a win becuase of a bonehead call that any Pop Warner coach could make correctly, it’s really difficult to maintain a level of trust. Think about, from a players perspective, you are willing to work hard only to see your coach cost you a win? You hold up your end only to see your coach give the game away. What reason do you have to be motivated moving forward? It would not suprise me to see us end up 4-8 with a thrid straight crappy November. I can’t imagine the team putting forth any effort now. I would take a lot of personal pride, which, unforunately, I think is lacking with many of these players, based on the last two Novembers. I’m intersted to see if we have a bunch of quitters or fighters.

    It’s really sad to see the death of a once proud football program. I really believed BK was the right guy to help rebuild. This week proved me soooo wrong. Clay Burton? Decommit. Aaron Lynch. Decommit. Who’s next? I wouldn’t want to play for a coach that I could single handedly cost me a chance at a National Championship because of his arrogance. It’s one thing to make qa bad call. It’s another thing to sit back, think about it, and say he’d do it again. I guess smart, basic coaching wasn’t a requirement at Grand Valley State. Sigh….

    • domer_mq

      Kelly’s 2nd string, true freshman QB just stepped on the field in a game following a hugely traumatic event in the week, and went and threw 4 TDs. And 65% of the reception yards went to sophomores and freshmen. If you’re trying to build a program, what’s really indicative of “building?” I’m not saying “winning” and “building” are mutually exclusive, but they’re not absolutely correlated either.

      I don’t require a lot in my debates, but I at least require the other side to take a moment and look beyond any facade.

      • The Biscuit

        This is what I was trying to say earlier in the forest/trees thread. A lot of people (most), including me at times, can’t get past what we see as horrible coaching decisions to see if there’s anything else worth including in the evaluation. “Forget Rees’ apparent stellar development, he should’ve kicked the FG!” I think it’s just hard for folks to get past the glaring ‘problem’ to see that it’s more than just that. And even if they do recognize that it’s more than just that, the ‘problem’ is so egregious that they don’t care. I’m not disagreeing with your perspective on this at all – I think you’re 100% right. I’m just trying to say that I understand why most people aren’t seeing it the way you do. I think it’s human nature. If Kelly had kicked the FG and missed, I think you’d see something slightly different. Had he kicked and made it, you’d see a whole lot different from people, even though the underlying status would be almost 100% the same. It’s all about perception.

        • domer_mq

          I understand what most people are thinking. That’s why I’m trying to point out that there’s more to it.

          A 2 point win over Tulsa, by the way, would have been met mostly with incredulity that we only won by 2. Such is the ND-internet-fandom world.

          • The Biscuit

            right on.

          • JM

            In recruiting, I think overall record makes a big difference, even if you just beat Tulsa by 2. I agree it is not a much different statement about the players in this situation, but I think it has a different effect on recruits.

      • goldnblew

        Let’s not forget it was “Tulsa”….. Let’s see how this guy does against Utah before the coronation….. BTW, I find it sad that so many ND faithful have thrown Dane under a bus.

        • domer_mq

          I’m not throwing Dayne under a bus. I just think it’s going to be a huge challenge for him to get his starting job back unless Kelly subscribes to the “you can’t lose your job to injury” philosophy, and even then, this situation would really test that philosophy.

          Dayne was making pretty easily identified strides this season. The Navy game was poor, but largely b/c he went into desperation mode for some reason.

          • The Biscuit

            Who is this Dane character?

            Does he play for Weiss? Can Bob Davies do an interview?

          • JM

            Crist has made good progress considering it is a completely new system, he almost never saw the field before this year, and he is clearly a pro style offense QB. I feel bad for him because I think he would be awesome somewhere else after a couple of years but may not get the chance at ND. All things considered, Rees looked good against Tulsa, in a rebuilding sense, mind you, not in a competing sense.

    • Irishblood

      You’re assuming the players held up their end of the bargain. BK said at the beginning there was a sense of entitlement with the players. Maybe this is his way of knocking them down. He’ll tell the recruits the real reason he made that call (I don’t believe for a second it was because of the matchup).

      • The Biscuit

        if he was just sending a message to his players (which wouldn’t make sense to me) that would be just criminal.

  • Big Al

    My favorite ND team was the ’66 team. Go back and look at their record. The key to this team was their defense. I believe they had 5 shutouts that season. Until we get a defense, we’re always going to be playing in these close games, that are decided by the last team that has the ball when the clock runs out. The ’66 team had the same attitude every game…SEEK, KILL & DESTROY. That my friends is NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL…

  • Jim Kress

    Brian Kelly should be severely, publically reprimanded by the University for that last pass play call and then his flipping off of the ND fan base and alumni by telling them to “get used to it”.

    That was utterly stupid. There’s aggressive and then there’s dumb. Calling for a pass in that situation was dumb, dumber than many of the “4th down go for it” calls by Weis. Top that off with the arrogance of stupidity he demonstrated at the press conference and you see he is just not the type of coach we need at ND.

    BK is showing that he does not belong as a coach at this level of football. Indeed, if you viewed the truly embarrassing video by Dicao from Oct 26, where he admitted he didn’t know what to do about, or how to adapt to, the alterations in the Navy offense, what you begin to see is a coaching staff that’s too inexperienced and in way over their heads, to compete against well coached, high level programs like Stanford, MSU, Utah, USC and even Tulsa.

    That coupled with the obviously poorly conditioned team members (i.e. I have NEVER see this level of hamstring injuries in any football team) makes you understand that BK is just not up to the challenge.

    The kids are playing their hearts out for a coaching staff that reminds me of a combination of Charlie Chaplin, the Marx brothers, Abbott and Costello, and Jim Carey – i.e. dumb and dumber and dumbest. They deserve better than this.

    I predict our final record for the season will be 5 wins, 7 losses, unless Dicao can’t figure out Army, either. Then it will be 4 and 8.

    This is a tragedy for the team and a travesty for the fans and the University.

    • domer_mq

      What “level of football” is ND, exactly? From what I can tell, ND’s been a sub .600 team for 15 years. When do the fans stop acting like we’re elite just by virtue of being a ND? Do I get to pretend I can still run a marathon today because I could 4 years ago?

      • The Biscuit

        Do I get to pretend like I could run a marathon 4 years ago bc YOU could? Please?

    • Mike Gorman

      Jim, well said. We will end up 4-8 because we will not be able to stop Army. A 2 point win over Tulsa is better than a loss to Tulsa. A win is a win and a loss is a loss.


        So wins over WMU and Purdue count as much as wins over Utah/SoCal, right?

        • Mike Gorman

          Wins over WMU and Purdue count more than
          Than a loss to Utah/So Cal ane even Tulsa.
          Kicking a field goal against Tulsa and
          winning that game by 2 could have put us
          in a bowl game. A win is a win……

          • domer_mq

            You’re not even using your own logic. You state “A win is a win.” So I’m asking, is a win over WMU just as good as a win over Utah? Or do you really mean “a win is better than a loss?” To which, I’d reply, “derp.”

  • Evan

    I disagree that the paradigm shifted with the FSU 37-0 drubbing, I think you go all the way back to Davie’s swan song as the point where ND lost it’s elite status. They were exposed then by an Oregon St. team in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. It wasn’t just the 41-9 score, it was being outmanned/outcoached in every aspect of the game. Only difference now is that it’s not a #5 team in a BCS bowl – it’s Tulsa. BK’s coaching calls from the beginning – Montana throwing instead of kicking v UM, going for it on 4th down against MSU, and throwing the last pass yesterday – have bordered on criminal. And there have been other bonehead coaching decisions that somehow are forgotten when the team wins a game. Is there any wonder the recruiting class is dropping like flies. These are smart kids and they are watching the same game we are. There’s no sugarcoating it – it’s TULSA. It should never have come down to “Do we throw, or do we kick?”. The tradition and lore can only get you so far with high school athletes, you have to win, or at least be moving in that direction. Let’s just hope Kelly’s RKG’s are hidden amongst the 2 and 3 star players that still get starry eyed at the ND tradition. And I thought CW’s decision to let Stanford score last year was the low point in Irish history and pride. But BK has brought a new ‘floor’ to Irish disappointment. By the end of this season, Holtz will be a full on deity. SInce Holtz’s departure, ND has had a slow and steady slide toward football irrelevance that recently seems to have ground to an unceremonious halt. Although… we still have Army to push us further down the slope into college football obscurity. As for giving Kelly another year or 2 at the helm, just keep in mind that, although his team finished 5-6 in his first year after inheriting a similar team from the now not-so-horrible-by-comparison Gerry Faust, Holtz lost to 4 top 10 teams (excluding Alabama, they lost by a TOTAL OF 7 POINTS to those ranked opponents). They finished the year beating #17 USC. And I’m pretty sure that in similar positions, Lou ran the ball north/south until he found a way to control the line of scrimmage – thereby sidestepping the curse on one dimensionality. If Kelly continues, and arrogantly I might add, down this same “get used to it” path, he’s likely to inspire his very own version of the Tea Party in the hopes of somehow holding this ‘proven winner/program turner arounder’ accountable while simultaneously catapulting Holtz to sainthood.

    • Evan

      Sorry, Davie had another year left to cement his legacy as a coaching version of the ‘cooler’. It wasn’t his last game against OSU, it just should have been.

  • ND Fan For Life

    Seeing the forest through the trees?


    I agree with most of what you wrote: the Notre Dame program is broken from the top all the way down. Poor decisions, poor coaching hires, poor recruiting, and poor play leading to poor morale. The faithful have been “patient” for over 20 years while Notre Dame has tinkered with its program.

    Brian Kelly may or may not be the answer for the long term, but let’s get one thing straight: losing games doesn’t help to build for the future. You don’t tell your freshman QB to throw a high-risk pass with :42 seconds left in the game, when a field goal would have probably won the game for Notre Dame. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure that out… Larry Holmes would figure that one out.

    Notre Dame’s failure to join a conference, lack of coaching stability, as well as a lack of adapting to the 21st century game is what is and has failed them. Granted, their graduation rate is high, but if you actually expect that the university will get the best players to attend the university, especially when they can’t win and demand higher standards for their athletes, then Notre Dame will continue to falter.

    Finally, the past legend of Notre Dame just doesn’t have the luster it once had on potential recruits. Why would one want to play at ND when they can go to OSU or Florida and constantly be vying for the National Championship year after year?

    Forest through the trees? Indeed.

    Only this ‘forest’ is an illusion, and the trees are the recruits, coaching and talent that are choosing to go elsewhere where their journey will lead them to a championship. AFAIC, Notre Dame won’t win another championship until it dramatically alters its philosophy and stances on recruitment and being in a conference.

    • domer_mq

      “failure to join a conference.” You just called ND’s biggest victory in the last 10 years a “failure.” Maybe it was a typo.

      • ND Fan For Life

        It wasn’t a typo, sir.

        If Pyrrhic and moral victories are your cup of tea, then yes, Notre Dame not joining a conference is a victory for the school. It’s too bad that it’ll be the only major victory the football program sees for a long time.

        What does it say to you when a coach tells the fans and alumni to “get over it,” after a loss to a school that most Division II teams could handle? Forest through the trees? Again, indeed.

        You read no typo. While I agree with part of your assessment, it’s no secret outside of Notre Dame-dom that this club can’t compete because of stringent academic and recruiting standards and failure to join a conference.

        But hey… if you’re happy, I’m happy. But, at the end of the day, moral victories don’t add up to championships or a return to respectability; they add up to more failures like Navy and Tulsa.

        Even a pee-wee football coach wouldn’t have made the call to throw a dangerous and unnecessary pass with :42 seconds left in the game with one of the NCAA’s finest kickers.

        Enjoy the mediocrity; I know I won’t, but then again, it’s always comforting to know that the school won a major victory against the system by refusing to join a conference and perhaps improve its situation.


          I don’t think you get what “forest for the trees” even means, let alone my slightly modified metaphor.

          You even try to argue that there’s no excuse for ND losing to Tulsa, but then you state that the failures, overall, are due to “stringent academic and recruiting standards.” So you’re saying ND doesn’t have the talent to beat Navy or Tulsa?

          Congratulations, you may be the dumbest person on the internet.

          • ND Fan For Life

            Name calling? LOL! That’s the best you can do?

            I got your whole “forest through the trees” metaphor. You don’t understand it, so you call names. Next time, mix in a book and some grammar classes for further information

            I won’t debase myself arguing the merits of football to a person who enables a poor program and makes excuses for the losing to continue. As a former player and coach, I know exactly what Notre Dame’s problems are, as outlined above. If you’re just being obtuse to not see it doesn’t bother me. Just don’t call names when your argument is shredded.

            And yes, Notre Dame obviously didn’t have the talent to compete with Tulsa and Navy. The proof is in the results.

            Congratulations, you are the type of “fan” Brian Kelly wants to continue to have this program slip into sub-mediocrity.

          • The Biscuit

            Wait, ND Fan, I’m not going to call you a name, but I want to understand this: Are you saying that ND lost to Navy and Tulsa because of talent? You’re saying that Navy, and Tulsa, have better talent on their rosters than ND has on theirs?

          • Evan

            C’mon now, you all have valid points which you can bring up in your Anger Management meetings.

  • Peter Lacock

    Sounds like loser talk to me. Too much giving up, like you advocate, is the problem. If you can’t beat’m, join’m is for those good for nothing more than wasting air.


      You, sir, must possess a reading comprehension that only a corrupt politician could love.

      • The Biscuit

        I think you’re seeing why I just like to type in ALL CAPS and rant a bit. Less room for confusion. Heh.

        • Evan

          Wow, domer sets ’em up and Biscuits knocks ’em down… maybe you 2 should get a room.

  • Doug

    Well said. Should be required reading for all Irish “fans,” and especially right before they post anything to a message board. This is not an easy, quick-fix type of situation. Kelly may or may not be “the guy” to turn things around, but nine games into his tenure is to early to tell much of anything about what will happen in the years to follow.

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