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ND football: Word for the Weis

November 11, 2007
The Altoona Mirror
As Notre Dame set yet a new low with its loss to Navy, the same recurring arguments are being raised about what is causing the demise of the program.

Notre Dame can’t recruit with its academic standards. Notre Dame needs to join a conference for success.

Recently, Charlie Weis’ has been criticized as well for questionable playcalling and supposed lack of program development.

From this viewpoint, Charlie Weis can coach. Notre Dame can recruit. Notre Dame can stay independent.

So what’s the problem?

Well, you have freshmen playing ALL of the following — offensive line, quarterback, receiver and the backfield. You have a schedule that is the second-toughest in the nation and was frontloaded with the tough opponents. You have a lack of talent and leadership from the upperclassmen.

A combination of all of these factors has led to a 1-8 record (entering Saturday’s game with Air Force), a team that has lost its knowledge of how to win and a coach that is on the hot seat.

But we knew this was the case going into the season. No one expected the Irish to be good. Just not THIS bad.

But it’s getting better.

Notre Dame was spiralling down this path for several years.

A few years ago, many questioned the Tyrone Willingham firing. I mentioned in this column then that the biggest disappointment of the Willingham era was Ty’s inability (or lack of passion) to recruit.

The players from those recruiting classes are now the juniors and seniors on this Notre Dame team.

Mind you, the media will lead you to believe the juniors are Weis’ recruiting class. They indict Weis because he now has his “guys.”

If you recall, Weis was hired after the 2004 season. Most kids are committed to a school at this point in the year, and Weis had to try to save the recruits Willingham had locked up.

I mean, which school doesn’t know right now who is in its upcoming 2008 recruiting class? If this year was 2004, however, Charlie Weis has yet to be hired.

These aren’t Weis’ guys. Not yet.

Who are Weis’ guys (pardon the pun)?

Weis has landed three straight Top 10 classes, the first Irish coach to do this since Lou Holtz. The 2008 class is ranked No. 1, despite the season they are having.

The problem with the team is the lack of talent, especially on the offensive line, with the upperclassmen.

This gap with the fourth-year seniors and juniors the Irish haven’t been able to overcome. Only seven players are playing meaningful minutes from these two classes – that’s two classes!

Give Weis time to work through the mess he inherited from Willingham. Let him play with his guys.

I think it will be worth the wait.

As for not kicking the field goal at the end against Navy, have you seen the Irish kicking game this year? Maybe it’s not such a bad call after all!

The best call Weis can make is to recruit a kicker that can kick.

Brian Irwin is a 1994 Notre Dame graduate and an occasional contributor to Voice of the Fan. He resides in Altoona.

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