Is Notre Dame Football Content with Mediocrity?
At what point did it become acceptable to field a pretty good team in South Bend? Was it in the Davie era, Willingham's maybe or possibly the current administration? Sure, there's a sense of entitlement here; maybe more so than any other program in the country.
That's a natural reaction which inevitably comes with winning at least one National Championship in every decade since the 1910's. So why is it different now?
Arguably, the last time Notre Dame was in the NC spotlight was in 1993; they were actually awarded the championship title by the NCF and probably robbed otherwise. The following year was a disaster for Coach Holtz, losing five games for a 6-5-1 record.
And the following two, both three-loss seasons. Lou Holtz has claimed to have left for many reasons one of which being he felt it was time to move on and to give someone else the opportunity he was given.
But part of me believes another reason is because the team compiled 11 losses and a tie in those last three seasons. There may have been a feeling that it was unacceptable at Notre Dame to have the football team lose 11 games in a three-season span.
Enter Bob Davie. I actually like Bob Davie. I think he is a hell of a defensive coordinator. What he did at Texas A&M and later somewhat at Notre Dame has rarely been repeated in college football. He coached some of the most feared defensive units ever, albeit mostly at TAMU with the Wrecking Crew.
That said it was just not in the cards for him to be a head coach, more so, head coach at Notre Dame.
I don't think it was a bad choice at the time. Given his track record and his time there at Notre Dame, it was a natural selection. I've said this before...damned good coordinator, okay head coach, but not so good recruiter.
If you take any consecutive three-year span out of his five years as head coach, you will get 16, 11, 16 losses. While there were some underlying problems during that time as well with violations, that loss count was unacceptable.
After the George O'Leary debacle (which I cannot even fathom) Tyrone Willingham was brought in. This choice has always kind of baffled me, but if you look back at history, it's Notre Dame's MO to pick these kind of guys. Faust was a high school coach. Devine had a couple good seasons at Mizzou but nothing spectacular.
Parseghian was a big ole bust-a-rooni Northwestern and just kind of fell into the position. So it wasn't all too far out that Notre Dame was going to pick someone off the radar. But even still, I'm not sure what White saw in his resume that screamed, “I will bring a NC back to South Bend!”
I have also said this...Willingham was a better recruiter, good motivator, but not a good head coach. He was only given three years, where he compiled 15 losses. Unacceptable.
Now good ole Charlie Weis. He comes in, high profile hiring, now in the spotlight, going to change things in South Bend. He's got three Super Bowl rings and is the self-proclaimed offensive genius behind the 199th pick of the 2000 draft “Tommy” Brady.
And that's exactly what happened. Everything changed. Notre Dame goes 9-2 and by Notre Dame Clause is selected to play Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. “Hmm...what just happened here,” we all thought after that drumming? Next season, 10-2! And by Notre Dame Clause once again, they play LSU in the Sugar Bowl.
No chance Notre Dame holds the bowl losses record right? “Hmmmm...trend, or just another fluke?” And, of course, we all know what happens next. So, of course, if you mix in a nine-loss season with any other, chances are it's going to look poor...and it does. Take any consecutive three-year span and you get 15 and 18, not counting this season thus far.
Just for the sake of argument I'll go back a little bit farther. Gerry Faust, considered the worst of the bunch by many, can claim 15, 14 and 16 in any consecutive stretch over his five seasons. Devine has 7, 7, 8 and 9 with a NC of course.
So barring they win out this season which is highly unlikely, or as far as my standards go finishing with two losses, is another three loss season acceptable? What about four?
So just going by the numbers, why is it acceptable now for Notre Dame to field consecutive years of mediocrity where in the past it was unheard of? Have they lost that sense of entitlement where they are relegated to “hopefully a decent season” status every year? Coach Weis has said it himself, two- and three-loss seasons are unacceptable at the University of Notre Dame.
Of course, this season is still new. I'm not saying they will lose three games this season. I am saying it is likely and if that indeed is the case, will people finally call an ugly baby an ugly baby and realize what we've got here? Or will the grass be continually greener...next season?
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