- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Through it all, heroically, stood the Pitt defense, being forced to play a grisly kind of Russian roulette as its offense kept coughing up the ball and asking for another chance. During one stretch Notre Dame recovered fumbles on the Pittsburgh 26-, 16-, 16-and 11-yard lines. For all that opportunity, Notre Dame got very little. But very little was all it needed—a tying field goal of 35 yards by Dave Reeve early in the fourth quarter and a winning field goal of 26 yards by Reeve with 5:42 to play. The clinching touchdown (if you can call it that—Pitt wasn't about to score again) came on a drive of 11—count 'em, 11—yards with three minutes left.
This is Devine's third year. He lives daily with persistent reminders of his recent past—his ineffectiveness toward the end at Green Bay, his early problems at Notre Dame when fussbudget ways and lack of rapport with some players were roundly criticized. One former Notre Dame player was quoted early on: "When they made Joe Kuharich [a former and spectacularly fallible Notre Dame coach] they didn't throw away the mold, they used it to make Dan Devine."
Unfortunately, Devine continues to leave himself open for this kind of slander by lapsing, almost inexorably, into forced comparisons between himself and his immediate predecessor at Notre Dame, the Armenian Presbyterian, who happens to still live in South Bend. Devine does this while fussing around his office—straightening pictures and plaques, smoothing his sweater on a hanger, thumbing through neat stacks of letters from approving ex-players. Invariably at such times he drops ill-disguised hints that his record is every bit as good as Ara Parseghian's. Ara left him with practically nothing, the argument goes, and it is a sound one: 10 off Ara's last team (1974) were drafted by the pros; only three have been drafted since.
The fact is that Notre Dame football has been respectable under Devine—8-3 both years—and the Irish would have gone to major bowls both years if Devine had not let them vote "no" to the Cotton Bowl in 1975. Now it is conceivable he is on the verge of a national championship because of that monster defense and because from here on out the Irish play a one-game schedule: Southern California at South Bend on Oct. 22.
Devine is now proud to say that this is his team, not Ara's, and he is willing to stand on its accomplishments—or be blamed for its failures. Unfortunately, there is always somebody around to remind him that he is not Ara, and that at Notre Dame snafus are not forgiven.
Such a failing is Notre Dame's, not Devine's, of course, but he bears the brunt of it. An unconscionably cruel column appeared in a Pittsburgh paper the morning of the game. The writer, a Jim Murray faddist, could not bring himself to use Devine's name but did manage to suggest that Don Shula was more Notre Dame's type. Devine might well have read this with his game-day scrambled eggs, but Athletic Director Moose Krause warned him off it.
Spinach is one thing, slander is quite another.