Five Truths About Notre Dame

Nathaniel WrightContributor IOctober 22, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks to pass the ball against the USC Trojans in the first quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Its hard enough to watch your team play on Saturday. It's even harder to watch your team lose. I sat and watched my beloved Buckeyes lose to lowly Purdue on Saturday afternoon.

The game was at noon, by 2 p.m. I thought Terrelle Pryor would come back in the second half to lead his team to victory.

By 3 p.m., I thought he was the worst quarterback this decade for the Bucks. By 4 p.m., I thought he was the worst Ohio State quarterback I'd ever seen.

By Sunday, I wanted to see the backup Joe Bauserman. By Tuesday, I thought that the Purdue game was the best thing that happened to Ohio State.

By Wednesday, I thought Terrelle Pryor would bounce back for an epic game against Minnesota that would catapult the team back into contention.

By Saturday, I believe that Ohio State is gonna be okay and we are going to right the ship by the end of the year.

What does this have to do with Notre Dame and its fans? Well for the most part I want to let you guys know I get it. I know why they think the way they do.

I know why they think Jimmy Clausen is the best quarterback in the country (he is by the way). I know why you think Charlie Weis is going to turn this program around by next year.

I get it because if you are anything like Buckeye fans, then the team affects your life. I know that when my team loses, I don't want to watch Sportscenter afterwards.

I know I don't want to respond to e-mails from friends and my readers dogging my team. I know I'm going to dread having to defend my team.

I know that a loss means more than just my team losing. I know that if my team loses, then I am going to have to adjust my life to cope with the loss.

Also what I learned is that sometimes I need a little bit of perspective. I listen to Sportscenter and the radio to hear what the world is saying about my team.

I have in-depth conversations with my colleagues who hail from SEC country when they tell me what they think about my Buckeyes because they don't watch the game the same way that I do.

They don't care about the kids like I do. The perception of that team does not affect their day to day lives like it does a Buckeye fan.

With that said, I would like to do that for the Notre Dame faithful. I started watching Notre Dame when they hired Tyrone Willingham.

I thought it was a great moment for college football and equality in general. I was proud to see a black man at the helm of the most famous football team in America. Things happened, Ty got fired (classless) but I continued to watch.

I watched because I wanted them to lose. I felt that they deserved what they got and thoroughly enjoyed watching my Buckeyes giving the Irish a beatdown like they did. The next two seasons I enjoyed watching the worst two seasons by the Irish. 

This year was different. What started as a Mark May-type hate for the Notre Dame program grew into a respect for the program. I have a newfound respect for Jimmy Clausen and two of the best receivers I've seen in quite some time. Here are five truths about Notre Dame.

1. Jimmy Clausen Lost the Heisman.

I don't care about anything else. He could have played valiantly for two quarters and could have faced pressure from the mighty Trojans... that doesn't matter.

It was first-and-goal from the four and he blew it. Yes...HE blew it.

You heap all this praise on him for coming back against Purdue a couple weeks back when it was more due to Golden Tate and Crist keeping them in the game when Clausen was out.

You want to talk about how he's the best QB in the country, then you have to put the blame on him. If you are the top quarterback recruit in the country, future first-round draft pick and Heisman hopeful, you win that game.

Everything set up for them to win and have a glorious season, but they lost it because when it came down to it their QB couldn't lead them to victory. That is Clausen's fault and no one else's.

2. There is no guarantee that Notre Dame is going to go 10-2

There was a lot of talk that Notre Dame might still be able to get into the BCS without beating USC. I agree it was gonna be difficult for the Irish to get into a BCS game without that USC victory, but I still do not believe that it's gonna matter.

I see two more losses in the irish schedule. Boston College is going to be a bear and Pittsburgh is not a joke. Both have shown they have what Notre Dame seems to lack: a strong running game.

Unless they do what they haven't done yet and beat a team they weren't supposed to they are 8-4 going into a December Bowl game. They can win the games against Pitt and BC... but don't assume it's a foregone conclusion that 10 wins is a gimme. It's not likely and it's gonna be damn hard if they do. Ohh... and by the way Navy Doesn't suck. They have two losses... to aforementioned Pitt and to the Buckeyes. That's not gonna be easy.

3. Charlie Weis will get fired... but he shouldn't

If what I said before rings true and the 8-4 Notre Dame team goes into a bowl game... then Notre Dame is going to let go of Charlie. They shouldn't because even the most die hard Notre Dame hater is learning that Notre Dame is better than they were before. The old Notre Dame would not have came back on Saturday.

The way Jimmy led his team down was better showing than anybody has seen from Notre Dame in some time. If you gave Charlie Weis three more years he would get Notre Dame back to a national power.

The thing that makes Charlie Weis is his recruiting. He has amassed a lot of talent in South Bend and if he started to shift his focus from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive...mainly the D-Line and Secondary, and couple that with the firepower he has on offense, then you would have a team that would become a national power.

Everybody can see that and are hoping and praying that he gets fired this year and Notre Dame has to start over. In three years Charlie would beat USC at home.

4. Jimmy Clausen is the best quarterback in the country... But he's a bust as a Notre Dame quarterback so far.

If he was playing at most other schools in the country then he would be judged differently.I wrote last week about his legacy and I couldn't have scripted better myself. Seconds left on the clock ball in your hands less than five yards from the goal line and you lost. In football one offensive player can change a game.

One quarterback can win a game. Ask Vince Young, Tate Forcier and Tim Tebow.

For the past three years we have watched James Richard Clausen hold down the best job in college football. What is is signature win?

Think about it... what is the win that you tell your grandkids about? What is the first win you think of when defending my previous comment? It's Hawaii!

The win that got all the Golden Domers excited about the season was a game against the Warriors from the Pacific. That win catapulted people to believe this team would be better than they were.

How that offense looked made people believe that they were back in the BCS hunt. He only has one more shot at a career defining victory and that's against the bowl team they play... nothing else. He doesn't have another shot against a career defining team left on the schedule.

5. Notre Dame is America's team

No matter what anybody tells you, Notre Dame is the most important team in college football. Most people grew up in two camps, grew up to love Notre Dame and grew up to hate Notre Dame.

Either camp you still watch. Ask anybody about college football and they will tell you about their team and Notre Dame. The reason that it's hard to be a Notre Dame fan is the same reason for being a Notre Dame fan.

When Notre Dame is good, there are more people to argue with vs. their program. When Notre Dame is bad, more people will have opinions. When I hated Notre Dame I watched because I wanted them to lose.

One of the barbershop talks every week was how bad Notre Dame was and that they deserved it for what they did to Ty.

No matter how hard the season gets no matter what happens, Notre Dame will always matter.

Charlie Weis said it best "You're gonna be the lead story in the country one way or another." You always have and you always will be.

Thanks to Dan Scofield... here is a Bonus truth for you.

6. It's not Tyrone Willingham's recruiting for the 3-9 and 7-6 seasons.

Whenever you bring up Tyrone Willingham's name with the Irish they roll their eyes or huff. It is a common for the Irish to believe that Tyrone Willingham's lackluster recruiting is why the Irish are as bad as they were.

Here is some cold water for you. I would put Tyrone Willingham's recruits up against Charlie Weis' any day of the week'.

Quarterback... right now I'd put Brady Quinn against Clausen... and I'd come out the victor. Quinn was a Heisman Trophy Candidate and Clausen used to be.

Receiver... Jeff Samardzija Is equal to or better than Golden Tate. Add to that mix Darius Walker, who is light years ahead of anybody pounding the rock against any of the current Domers.

With the talent that Willingham left behind, Notre Dame went to two BCS games. Charlie Weis had two years to recruit and the talent he put into place for his third year went 3-9. The talent he brought in for his fourth season went 7-6.

In his fifth year the talent so far has gotten Notre Dame to 4-2. You can say Weis coached the players up more, you can say Tyrone couldn't hack it against USC... but you can't say it was Willingham's fault for the talent level.

Any good coach (Rich Rodriguez, Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel, Nick Saban) brings in their players by the second year and moves on. Charlie had three years to get his staff together and couldn't. (I will say the talent is starting to show in Charlie's fifth year.)


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