Notre Dame QB Clausen: "Charlie Weis IS Getting Fired Because of Me"
Writers and broadcasters put words in Jimmy Clausen's mouth when they recount how he predicted national championships on that April 2006 commitment day at the College Football Hall of Fame.
His actual words were, "That's what I'm here for, to try to get four national championship rings."
It wasn't a prediction. It was a hope.
Yet for three years, it was the California native's most quotable moment, used mostly as a punch-line.
Then came April 2009 and the Sporting News ' cover story.
"Coach Weis will not get fired because of me."
That was a prediction. It was a promise. And ever since, it has become the Notre Dame junior's most quotable moment.
Unfortunately, it seems the Irish are about to turn Clausen's words into a punchline again.
To his everlasting credit, Clausen has transformed himself from a signal caller who was intercepted 17 times in 2008 into the nation's third-leading passer in 2009. The Irish would be no better than 2-7 without his personal improvement.
But at some watershed moment in every great quarterback's career, personal improvement isn't enough. They must use their actions and words to elevate the players and coaches around them to even greater heights.
Clausen is dangerously close to letting that moment pass.
In the aftermath of a sinking loss to Navy, Clausen sent an apologetic late-night text to Weis, who he describes as "the reason [he] came to Notre Dame."
"I take full responsibility for everything, all the mistakes that I [made]," Clausen said this week. "Having the fumble on the one yard line, that's not coaching, that's playing."
On the referenced play, the Heisman candidate coughed up the football attempting to bowl over a Midshipman, momentarily forgetting he was Jimmy Clausen, not Tim Tebow.
His words reminded us.
In the era of Tebow's Promise , "I felt really bad for not only the team and myself, but really bad for Coach Weis" doesn't cut it.
That self-sympathy stands in stark contrast to Tebow's championship chatter: "A lot of good will come out of this. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season."
Perhaps it's unfair to expect Clausen to be as prolific with his speech as he is with his arm. Perhaps it's unreasonable to expect him to address NDNation the way Tebow addressed Gator Nation following last year's loss to Ole Miss.
However, with his coach on the hot seat and his program on the brink, I can't help but sense the void in Clausen's presence.
"Coach Weis is the right person to lead this football team, this year and into the future. And we're going to prove why from here on out," would reassure a lot of Irish ears right now. It might even reassure some of the doubters within that locker room as they prepare for BCS No. 12 Pittsburgh.
But far be it from me to join the ranks of those who have put words in Clausen's mouth.
If he's afraid of becoming a punchline yet again, maybe that says it all.
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