Thursday, December 4, 2008

Charlie Still in Charge

Nick Shepkowski, Domer Sports Report
Edited by Mark Allen

Notre Dame Football

Charles remains in charge of the Notre Dame football program, this after going 6-6 over the past year and only 3-9 a year ago. Needless to say things have not gone the way the Irish faithful would like during the past two seasons. Notre Dame appears headed for either the Sun Bowl, Texas Bowl , or Hawaii Bowl in the coming weeks, but where is the direction of the team headed? Under the watch of Charlie Weis it is hard to tell.

What is most bothersome to me is not necessarily the record Notre Dame has compiled over the past two seasons, but they way they have compiled that record. The Irish had losses in '07 to the likes of Navy and Air Force, whom the Irish had much more talent than, and then choke jobs against North Carolina, Pitt, and Syracuse with near disasters against both Navy and Stanford in which the Irish hung on for victories after leading by two scores or more.

What bothers me most about Charlie Weis and Notre Dame is why are the Irish out-coached, seemingly, from halftime on? So many times this year the Irish have let teams back into games in which the opponent had no business being in. Where does the responsibility of much of that fall? Some on the defense, yes, but what would burn clock while also putting points on the scoreboard?

The running game. Notre Dame has not been able to run the ball under Charlie Weis. John Latina is in charge of the offensive line and after two train wrecks of seasons in that department, where do the Irish turn? In 2007 the Irish yielded more sacks than any team in college football history. In 2008 Notre Dame averaged a whopping 3.4 yards a carry. Granted, the running backs having quite lived up to their billings of four and five star recruits but the offensive line is much to blame for that.

To me, the O-Line has gotten better in the pass blocking department, but the fact of the matter clearly is that Notre Dame needs to be able to run the football. Charlie Weis promised in his inaugural speech as Notre Dame's head coach that the Irish were going to be a nasty football team. To me, nasty means power football, lining my guys up against your guys and pounding the ball down your throat for the duration of the game. Needless to say we have not seen that under Weis - not even signs of that.

I am not calling for Charlie's head. I am, instead, giving him one last chance. Begin to be able to have a power running game. Start to show signs of this nasty football team you promised. Don't give up so many damn two possession leads that leave Irish fans' heads in their hands after games. It's time to put up or shut up, Charlie. I don't care when you run your mouth as long as you back it up. So far it is safe to say that you have not. I don't like to set a standard barrier for what keeps Charlie around longer than 2009, but there is no reason Notre Dame should not be playing in a BCS game next year.

Does keeping Weis bring Notre Dame any closer to winning a National Championship? Let yourself answer that question honestly and then ask yourself again if you really think Charlie Weis should remain as head coach of Notre Dame.

***Personal Note:

I backed Charlie after the Navy loss in '07. I backed Charlie after giving up a lead on the road to UNC. Hell, I even backed him after blowing a two score lead at home to Pitt. However, enough is enough! A loss to 2-8 Syracuse and a mind-boggling 93 yards of offense against USC later, I am now understanding where people are coming from when they call for Charlie's head. He is not getting the most from his players and does not have me feeling any more confident in the program after 2008 than I did at the conclusion of 2009. I wish success on Weis at Notre Dame because, first and foremost, that means that Notre Dame football is a legit title contender on an almost yearly basis. I, however, feel that the best we will ever see from Charlie is a run at a BCS game, heck, maybe even a win in a BCS game one day. We will not see Notre Dame play in a title game under Weis, he simply losses to too many teams he should beat. With that said, I do not understand why he will remain as head coach in 2009 besides and because of Kevin White giving Weis far too much to stay away from the NFL...that just days after Weis' finest moment at Notre Dame, which was still a loss to the Irish's biggest rival.

*Nick Shepkowski has been a Notre Dame fan virtually since birth and is a recent graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. He currently works at both Chicago Sports Radio 670 The Score and the Big Ten Network.

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