It’s Notre Dame I’m worried about.
The Irish manage to get major firings through their human resources department with relative ease. They fired Bob Davie (35-25), Tyrone Willingham (21-15) and now Weis (35-27) for cause — the cause being lousy football — although they wind up shelling out stacks of greenbacks in the process.
So now comes Notre Dame’s most important hire ever. The folks there want to compete for the national championship. They want to maintain high academic standards among their football players. They want a marquee name to lead the way. They need to lure someone with a Weis-like deal.
The Irish endured 10 games this season that were decided by seven points or less. But this coaching search will be more nerve-wracking to the alumni than any of them.
So I’m here to help the two main decision-makers — athletic director Jack Swarbrick and university president Rev. John I. Jenkins — sort through the muck.
Swarbrick believes Notre Dame can keep its lofty academic standards and still pursue the national championship in football. I agree. The sticking point is how often. If Notre Dame continues to make it difficult for recruits to qualify, and grants few exceptions in the process, then it will simply not be able to accumulate the across-the-board talent and roster depth needed to do it every single season.
If there is a common thread that ran through the tenures of Davie, Willingham and Weis, it’s that.
Under the current setup, Notre Dame could conceivably go 12-0 and reach the BCS title game. But the following year it could also go 7-5 and accept a bid to the Las Vegas Bowl. The year after that? Maybe 9-3, and the Fiesta.
Stanford is an example that is often mentioned in the same breath with Notre Dame. It’s a wasted breath, too. Jim Harbaugh is doing a magnificent job at that brain emporium. But this is considered a boffo year for the Cardinal, and it’s only 8-4 overall, third in the Pacific 10 at 6-3, and is rated 24th in the BCS. Last year under Harbaugh the team went 5-7. Next year, who knows? That’s what the impact of strict admissions policies does to a football team.
Now, if Swarbrick can figure out a way to ease the academic standards just a bit, it would allow more talent to come in and strengthen the entire roster. Then Notre Dame would not be reliant on the occasional Jimmy Clausen or Manti Te’o for inspiration and leadership. It would have a whole team full of such players.
Then the head coach of the Fighting Irish would have a fighting chance.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Would Brian Kelly and Bob Stoops have the same results at Notre Dame as they’ve had at Cincinnati and Oklahoma, respectively? Or would they be more like Rich Rodriguez going from West Virginia to Michigan, or Dan Hawkins moving from Boise State to Colorado?
The problem at Notre Dame isn’t the expectations. It’s the formula for attaining them.
Lingering questions were answered emphatically by the 2012 team, but 2013 is an all-new season that brings all-new question marks. Brian Kelly feels fairly confident his offense is in a great position to take a step forward, but to do that, they’ll need the services of some under-the-radar players.
Now that Notre Dame has fired Charlie Weis, take a look at some of the potential candidates to take over for the Irish.
Notre Dame's 2012 season
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Meet the 2012 Irish
Take a look at some of the key contributors for Notre Dame this season
2012 Notre Dame opponents
Take a look at some of the key players the Irish will face this season
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