Does the Weis era end tonight?
Tonight should be the last game as head coach for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. He certainly does not deserve another season as his 35-26 record at the helm makes him among the worst coaching records at the school. The 26 losses ties him with the "Akron Flash" (Gerry Faust), as the second most in ND history. At 6-5, and after tonight probably 6-6, the Irish will be sitting home for the bowl season.
Weis told a news conference this week that if ND fired him he would have a "tough time arguing with that, because 6-5 isn't good enough especially when you've lost five games by a touchdown or less." He added, "My intent is to be here. But if that were the rationale, I mean, it would be tough for me to argue with that point."
Weis came to South Bend with a reputation as a offensive genius and a ego big enough to fill Notre Dame stadium. His first two years were successful as he attempted to turn around a program that was in deep trouble thanks to Tyrone Willingham. But the last three years have been terrible, at best. The team has faltered, his leadership is questionable and the problems continue to mount as his teams play with little desire, little drive and little motivation. Despite four highly rated recruiting years, changing assistant coaches, giving up offensive duties, then taking them back, nothing has worked out well. His offense is very, very good, but that is it. As I said last week if the Notre Dame decision makers follow the same reasoning in the dismissals of Bob Davie and Willingham, then Weis should be gone.
Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, only two years on the job, said he will look at the program after the season. A major problem the last 13 years for the Irish has been replacing coaches. When Faust left, Lou Holtz arrived a day or two later. When Ara Parseghian retired, Dan Devine arrived a day later. That's the way it should be for recruiting purposes, for the good of the program and mostly for the good of those players who return for the 2010 season.
Swarbrick should look back at the way former AD Kevin White handled the Davie and Willingham dismissals. It was a mess and made Notre Dame look very, very bad.
The time for change begins on Monday, Nov. 30, by announcing the departure of Weis. And by no later than Dec. 4 there should be a new head coach named, one with pure college experience.
Today the Irish are at Stanford and face a team that can score points. However, the Cardinal is a team that is hard to figure. Two weeks ago they hammered Southern California, 55-21, then last week lost a shootout to California, 34-28. Stanford enters at 6-4. Along with the USC win, the Cardinal has beaten Washington State (39-13), San Jose State (42-17), Washington (34-14), UCLA (24-16), Arizona State (33-14), and Oregon (51-42). The three other losses were to Wake Forest (24-17), Oregon State (38-28), and Arizona (43-38).
The Cardinal is led by running back Toby Gerhard who has 1,531 yards this season on 282 carries and 23 touchdowns. He is backed by Stephan Taylor with 43-263-2. QB is Andrew Luck has 2,377 yards on 148 passess and 13 TD throws. He also has 319 yards rushing on 58 carries.
Receiving is led by Ryan Whalan with 48 catches for 786 yards and three TDs and Chris Owusu 34-636 and five scores.
Needless-to-say Stanford runs the ball very well, can throw it and does score a lot of points. With NDs defense unable to stop the run, Stanford could roll up record-setting rush yardage tonight.
ND leads the series 15-6. ND won in 2006, 31-10, and has won the last five meetings between the schools. The game will be televised by ABC-TV with a 8 p.m. kickoff. Although listed as a regional game for the West Coast, the local ABC channel, WNEP-TV 16, has it listed on its schedule.
IRISH NOTES ... Golden Tate is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award given annually to the nation's top receiver. The other finalists are Texas' Jordan Shipley and Bowling Green's Freddie Barnes. The winner will be announced on The Home Depot ESPNU college football awards show on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Tate is currently fourth in the nation in receiving yards per game (117.8) and ninth in receptions per game (7.6). He broke All American Jeff Samardzija's single-season records for receptions and receiving yards Saturday in the Connecticut game....Three Irish players did not make the cut from semifinalist to finalist on the major awards list. QB Jimmy Clausen for the O'Brien award; TE Kyle Rudolph the Mackey award; and kicker Nick Tausch Groza award....Some individual stats from the Uconn game: Clausen was 30 of 45 for 329 yards and two TDs. Tate caught nine for 123 yards and a score; Michael Floyd eight for 104 and one score; and Armando Allen seven for 64 yards. Allen rushed for 106 yards on 24 carries. Defensively, Kyle McCarthy had 11 tackles....ND's defense apparently not only can't stop the passing game of opponents it now can't stop the running game of opponents. After showing improvement early in the season the defense has given up huge rushing yardage the last three games. UConn out-rushed ND, 231-123. It is the 41st time in Weis' 61 career games in which his team has been outrushed. ND is 15-26 when outrushed under Weis and 20-0 when outrushing their opponent. Weis is now 3-10 in his last 13 November games....There is a report that Weis won't be unemployed for long if ND fires him. His named is linked to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs' general manager, Scott Pioli, was vice president of player personnel for the New England Patriots when Weis left there to take the ND job....Fumbles and penalties hurt the Irish last week and that can be tied to lack of consentation or lack of desire. No emotion, no in-your-face type play that Weis promised to bring to the ND program when he took the job five years ago....As I previously said, if Weis goes, Clausen will probably give up his senior year for the NFL draft. He has been rated very high by NFL scouts and considered a top 10 pick for the draft. Clausen's decision could also be influenced by who ND names as the new head coach. Tate may also give up his senior year for the draft. Again, it depends on who replaces Weis....ND is 1-1 in overtime games this year, 1-4 during Weis' tenure and 3-7 overall....Latest update on personnel: Rudolph is still recovering from his injury and will probably play sparingly tonight. Allen is out and won't play at all. His spot will be filled by frosh Theo Riddick and junior Robert Hughes. Offensive guard Trevor Robinson is still hampered with a ankle injury but could play tonight....Clausen was involved in an incident at a downtown pub/restaurant after the UConn game. AD Swarbrick said Clausen was "sucker punched" by a fan. Clausen was at the pub/restaurant with his family and girlfriend. He was leaving when he was struck. He left without further incident and did not get involved in a fight with the man who struck him, according to Swarbrick. Police did not brother to file a report in the incident...Weis was suppose to stay on the West Coast after the Stanford game for recruiting but has been called back to South Bend by Swarbrick leading to much speculation in the press and on the airways that the head coach will be a former head coach by Tuesday....Today a season with much hope and expectation ends. A loss is probable since the Irish defense can't stop the run and Stanford loves to run the football. It is a shame. Weis came in with a lot fanfare and a big ego and said he would bring the once proud football program back to how it was in the Holtz era. He failed and it is time for him to move on. Hopefully Swarbrick will have a coach in place that has college experience and some fire that will ignite the program once again. Think of it, in 13 years the Irish have had three different coaches. Weis, at least, did bring talent to South Bend with four of his five recruiting classes but failed to produce. My pick for tonight has to be Stanford but with the team knowing that this might be Weis's last game as head coach could rally around him and give him a win in his final game. Thanks Irish fans for reading this column all season.