There have been times when I’ve become severely depressed after watching a Notre Dame loss. Nothing was worse than driving eight hours to South Bend to watch the Fighting Irish defeated by Navy, then cutting my vacation short because I had to return home and glue the pieces of my love for the Irish back together.
I don’t want to make light of those with real depression problems, but after Saturday’s loss I’ve found myself utterly confused and lost. It was the only time in my life that I’ve questioned why I’m a Notre Dame fan.
I’m just going to let it all out and get it off my chest:
Get rid of the natural grass
I was arguing with my buddy before and during the game that the natural grass hinders the Irish because they are always slipping. And it never seems to affect the other team.
Floyd slipped on his first catch, Parris nearly blew out his knee when he fumbled, and Floyd got tackled by the grass late in the 4th quarter on what could have been an enormous game-changing catch. There are a dozen examples every game.
Is it really worth the “tradition” of having natural grass when it is so clearly evident that the football team plays better and runs faster on modern surfaces?
Home field advantage?
My first Notre Dame game last year was an awesome experience. But I was more in tune with a lot of criticisms of the Irish program/campus/experience this time around and the loss to Navy just magnified it all.
It seems that there is some weird reverse home field advantage working against Notre Dame. Nearly every visiting opponent gets jacked up to play at ND Stadium because of the tradition, the national broadcast, and there’s always this target on the Irish even when Notre Dame clearly isn’t a good team.
In contrast, Notre Dame is always slipping all over the field and playing in front of a painfully quiet crowd that gives them zero home field advantage. That doesn’t even bring into account the expectations the players must feel to win at home under such circumstances.
I couldn’t believe how quiet the crowd was against Navy, specifically in my section. There were about four third down plays when Navy had the ball and the crowd got somewhat close to loud and only one or two other instances throughout the entire game.
Seriously, there were maybe two or three men who were loud near me and the rest of the people just seemed to do nothing during the entire game. People were carrying on conversations not related to football, playing with their phones, leaving their seats multiple times, or otherwise just sitting there in muted silence.
In effect, Notre Dame sets up the perfect conditions for opponents to come in and steal victories from this team.
Is there a curse?
I know there are thousands of hardcore rabid Notre Dame fans out there, but how many attend the games each Saturday? As I was leaving the stadium Saturday my mind kept thinking there is some sort of curse on the football team.
Why a curse? I believe it’s because the stadium is full of so many people that are not fully invested in the football team, particularly whether it wins or loses, that the ghosts of Rockne & Co. are very angry.
Sitting in the stands at the end of the game I wanted to puke, cry, scream and shout in anger that Notre Dame had just lost to Navy. I looked around and all I saw were happy faces who looked as if they’d just watched an intriguing movie and not a devastatingly painful Fighting Irish loss.
No one seemed to care and I am not exaggerating in the least bit. I saw a group of Latino men who seemed as crushed as me, but literally everyone else buoyantly shuffled out of the stadium as if they were leaving Disneyworld.
I understand that football isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things, but it just seems counter-productive, and downright wrong that there could be that many people in the stands who could care less whether Notre Dame wins.
There’s also a former USC quarterback doing color commentary for Notre Dame games on national television. Don’t tell me that isn’t bringing unholy hatred from deceased Notre Dame players. Could you imagine Joe Montana calling games for USC or Michigan?
Due to the above issues, I didn’t leave the game blaming Weis or thinking that he should be fired or that Notre Dame lost because Weis is the coach. However, I think his time has passed and I’m finding it very difficult to support him.
But I still don’t think a lot of the problems are due to Weis (in the grand scheme I still blame the administration). I’m definitely baffled by the play of the defense and there are some questionable play calls every single game, but the team racked up 512 yards of offense, never punted, and were one field goal miss away from winning.
Weis didn’t throw an interception in the red zone, miss two field goals, fumble at the goal line, or prevent the Irish from putting this game away. The players really shot themselves in the foot in my eyes.
But ultimately, Weis is the leader of the team and he is responsible for yet another disappointing loss. Now more than ever he is standing near the precipice of being fired.
The biggest problem is that the defense isn’t very good and Weis isn’t a defensive minded coach. He also makes it difficult for his offense to succeed by not running the ball enough and throwing fade routes at the two yard line.
It may be true and I would agree that this team probably isn’t coached very well outside of a few offensive players, but looking at this game exclusively I didn’t think Weis was the problem.
On a program wide level I am starting to believe Weis doesn’t have what it takes and I am ready to move on. But leaving South Bend this weekend I had a lot of questions about Notre Dame football and not many were concerned with who is coaching.
Still, what if Notre Dame goes into Pittsburgh and takes home a victory? What if they finish strong and end up 10-3? A lot of people may think Notre Dame won’t do this and that they are heading into downward spiral, but I’m still not sure.
It may seem like Weis will definitely be fired right now, yet I still think there is much more drama, confusion, and debating to follow in the coming weeks.
Notes & Rants
*Do you think this was one of those games where Weis didn’t think he’d need Armando Allen but that he probably could have played?
*Anyone who thinks that Hughes doesn’t drag down the offense is fooling themselves. In reality, he may be the slowest and least explosive running back in Notre Dame history.
*Which is why I don’t understand how Weis could go back to Hughes against Navy after seeing how effective Riddick was with his limited carries? If we start the game running the ball more with Riddick I think Notre Dame wins easily.
*I was ripping my hair out wondering why the Irish didn’t put a defensive lineman under center when the Navy fullback was gashing through the middle of the field. Even a little seven year old boy made that comment (hey someone was watching the game!).
*I still think the defense is not very talented and they are poorly coached. How many players on the defense will play in the NFL? They’ll be lucky to have one with a decent pro career and we all know which players that will be.
*I’m starting to believe a different coach would improve this defense and could keep the offense relatively strong with the current talent on the roster for the next two to three years. It’s after Weis’ recruits are gone that I’m worried about.