SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/03/2007 07:06:00 PM
Saturday Observations, Part III
Navy's Ram Vela made the play of the game, sacking Notre Dame QB Evan Sharpley on a critical fourth down.
EUGENE, Ore. -- I’m guessing there were a whole lot of newfound Navy fans around the country Saturday. And I’m guessing there were a whole lot of people smiling and celebrating right along with the Midshipmen when, at about 6:40 p.m. EST, they stopped Notre Dame’s two-point conversion attempt in triple overtime to finally end the 43-game losing streak.
(The Autzen crowd let out a giant roar when the p.a. announced the score.)
Who cares if it was a 1-7 Notre Dame team the Midshipmen beat? I can’t imagine a happier set of players or fans than Navy’s must be right about now. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to achieve such a significant victory in such dramatic fashion.
As for the now 1-8 Irish … I’ll just say this: At his introductory press conference three years ago, Charlie Weis memorably proclaimed, “If it comes down to everything being even and it’s X’s and O’s, I have to believe we’re going to win most of the time.” If there’s anyone besides Weis himself who still believes that … there are excellent facilities where you can get the help you need.
OK, I need to focus on the game I’m covering (just in the time it took to write the three paragraphs above, both teams scored).
Charlie Weiss reminds me of Mike Martz in many ways. Both guys can coach an offense. Both guys were great coordinators who could get the most of their talent. However, both guys needed a head coach and/or front office staff to get them players to work with and to over-ride any bone headed decisions. Charlie apparently needs some recruiting help. He also needs someone to over-ride some of his decisions, and he is not going to get it as a head coach.
What the heck was that 4th down call when they were in field goal range? So much for Weis having an Xs & Os advantage every time out... So much for this being Willingham's fault... At least Ty never lost to Navy.
No matter what else Weis does, the stench is embedded and the hypocrasy is exposed. At this point, ND apologists and rationalizers are just that.
Notre Dame officials ought to reconsider Big Ten membership.
First, because it gives a team that competes for a national championship maybe once in a generation a shot at a meaningful conference championship annually. Consider Michigan, which still had something to fight for despite its 0-2 start.
Second, because it gives the Irish access to more bowl games than their present arrangement, not to mention the shared revenue of the Big Ten's bowl package.
Third, because it gives the Irish an easier shot at a BCS bowl game than their independent status.
Fourth, all of that should mean they'd be more competitive at recruiting.
Finally, a 12-game schedule with 4 non-conference games should allow them to retain their USC, BC and Navy rivalries.
I think a Weis-led collapse accelerates Big Ten membership, so I'm all for Weis staying with the Domers.
I agree. If ND didn't have their own NBC contract that generated a ton of revenue that ND doesn't have to share, they'd have joined the Big Ten (or Big East because it's easier) several years ago when it was up for consideration.
I also agree that they are entering a phase similar to what Penn State experienced as an independent prior to joining the Big Ten. Unless ND changes to a wuss schedule, their days of getting to BCS games routinely are done. After another 3-5 years, even the ND haters will be bored enough to render ND meaningless, and in order to maintain relevance, perhaps then they'll look to join a conference, as Penn State had to. Recall, it wasn't too long ago that JoePa's outfit was as big as any other school in the land, as an independent.
The days of the independents are gone. Nute Rocke and Joe Montana aren't walking back through those doors!
"The days of the independents are gone." --statdoc
When Penn State joined the Big T(elev)en in 1993 there were still 10 independents. Today there are 4 -- Army and Navy, which will remain independent, and Temple, which no conference wants. In essence, Notre Dame stands alone.
Neitzen, I agree with you. The only point I was making was ND will find it increasingly more difficult to be successful as an independent. It's history and stature has contributed, in my opinion, to being the last significant indy standing, but perhaps we're seeing that being drained to its limit.
The real question with ND is whether or not they will lose the NBC contract. If they can still be on your TV every Saturday afternoon, they aren't ever going to join a conference and have to share the TV revenue.
And, if they do lose that contract, the question then becomes does the Big Ten want a watered down Notre Dame to join the conference when they are already being questioned for strength of schedule by the national media? With ND's "high" academic standards, will they ever truly recruit the kind of athlete to compete with the Ohio State's (much less the LSU's and Florida's of the world)?
Alignment with a conference has to do with more than TV revenue and strength of schedule. ND is academically comparable to, of comparable enrollment size with, co-located with, and despite its records in the post-Holtz Era a marquee team. Besides, I think the point statdoc and I were making earlier is that alignment with the Big Ten would make Notre Dame better; not just the conference.
Also, I may be mistaken, but I believe the Big Ten told ND they could keep their TV contract and its revenue. The college football landscape changed considerably since NBC issued that contract initially, and if I were running the network I'd have to ask about the advisability of continuing a relationship with a team that (the last 2 years not withstanding) hasn't been setting the world on fire. If the contract were the only remaining justification for remaining independent, and it disappeared, I say welcome to the conference.
Netizen said... Alignment with a conference has to do with more than TV revenue and strength of schedule.
I completely agree with you, and that is why I made the point about ND being essentially irrelevant. The Big Ten is already challenged enough on the national scene with "embarrasments" from UM with App State and Minn with ND State and with NW with Duke. Would adding ND really "strengthen" the public's view of the Big Ten conference, and allow additional doors to be opened vis a vis the ACC/Big East realignment?
At this point, I know that people want to add ND because they think that adding a twelfth team would allow two divisions and a championship game, but that has never been what the Big Ten was about.
And, would it really make sense for the Big Ten to allow ND to keep the TV revenue and not share with the other teams when they have a competing network in "The Big Ten Network?" I don't see that one flying.
I am absolutely opposed to further expanding the Big 10. I'm biased though, because I'm a Buckeye, and the last thing in the world I want to see is the OSU-Michigan game losing its luster. That game, more often than not, decides the conference championship. I'd like it to stay that way, to stick with the tradition. I don't think a divisional set up and a conference championship game makes it any easier for a Northwestern or Indiana to win the title; if anything, it makes it harder. The Big 10 should stay at eleven. The season ends before thanksgiving, and that's the way it should stay. But I suppose I'm old fashioned, and its inevitable that the 12th memeber joins. Unless ND joins the Big east, and I'd be just fine with that.
Charlie Weis should be fired. This is an outright travesty. NOT kicking the game winning field goal? Running for the 2 point conversion in clearly a running formation. I am truly at a loss for words right now. I have been a staunch Weis supporter from Day1, and today that has changed.
Phork, that was my opening salvo. I'm just wondering if true ND fans have any objective set of criteria that they'll use to decide that Charlie isn't all he's cracked up to be. What a set of bone-head calls!
To date he's underachieved with so called top 5 recruiting classes.
He's been blown out in record fashion.
And yes, Charlie, the steak does mean something - to alums, historians, and mostly Navy!
At what point in time does the faithful lose the illusion (delusions?) that he'll figure this out. Remember, he was the one who said this wasn't a rebuilding year... Remember, it was ND who said Willingham did everything right Sunday through Friday but it was Saturday that mattered...
Big Ten affiliation is definitely NDs second best long term option (the first, returning to dominance looks increasingly difficult in this landscape - old ND wasn't about prominence but dominance).
The Big Ten doesn't want or need two divisions and a championship game. Why should they? They get two teams in the BCS most years as is. What's the SEC's claims of being the toughest conference worth financially when the Big Ten can place one team in the BCS title game and another in the Rose Bowl! Plus, it's TV Network generates the most loot per team nationally with it's geographic spread from PA to Wisconsin.
Big Ten/ND is a good fit. Sorry, but the Big Ten is about academics as much as it is athletics, and although ND is in Indiana with Purdue and Indiana, it's national reach and academic tradition make sense.
The only thing that isn't good (for ND fans anyway) will be the first decade of ND getting routinely bashed on the field by Big Ten teams (like they have been for a few years).
A large part of today's ND loss to Navy falls on Weis - no doubt. But why does the media NEVER mention Kevin White's abysmal job as AD at ND. This season might not look as bad if the schedule was aligned like most schools have theirs. FWIW also, even though I would have tried to kick the FG, Weis clearly said the in warm ups the kicker was not even close to making it from 42+ yards. It would have been a 46 yarder from the right hash. So, logically you might try to go for a 4th down because you just converted 2 others before that and Navy was on their heels.