How High Is Too High And Where Should One Set The Bar or Draw The Line ?

How High Is Too High And Where Should One Set The Bar or Draw The Line ?

Well the short lived Labor Day weekend came and went in the blink of an eye . Not much to be had by way of the sporting festivities unless you were completely enthralled by the first week of the college football schedule ? For myself I simply am not overcome by the events to be had until the third or fourth week of the actual schedule and by then no doubt many of prognosticators out there are already telling us who will be on the bubble and who may well be simply be playing for their reputation. No doubt a case can be already made for Notre Dame and the fact that they suffered a rather embarrassing loss (23-20) in their home opener to USF of the Big East . Far be it for me to suggest that “The Fightin’ Irish’s program is no longer relevant but I simply refuse to see how NBC Sports can continue to gain any traction from televising any game of Notre Dame ! I understand that the school is still beloved by its alumni across the country but let’s get real here , with the coaches that have recently held tenure of the post as head coach of the football team , theirs is in essence, a really pitiful story and list of accomplishments .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Brian Kelly as the present incumbent as coach of Notre Dame succeeded Charlie Weis whose accomplishments with the school was simply to drag it down to such depths of mediocrity , that it is hard to explain how was as such , he was successful as as an assistant with Bill Belichick . But I guess when you’re simply being rewarded for riding on someone else’s coat-tails that basically assures of a well paid position at your next vocational stop off point ! Now with that being said I do believe that Kelly can turn things around for the program but herein lies the caveat for the school , in particular for Kelly , his coaching assistants and AD Jack Swarbrick . One understands that the criteria set for entrance into one of the nation’s most respected parochial establishments of higher learning is exceptionally high and those student athletes granted entrance are gifted . But I do feel that the school is now fighting a losing battle in terms of recruitment when adjudged against such powerhouse programs such as USC , Florida , Alabama , Penn State , Auburn and a slew of other programs across the country. Granted , tradition has its place within every sport and Notre Dame carries a proud tradition of success and scholastic achievement but that no longer seems to matter for the vast majority of the players who seek to use the school as a stepping stone for their upward progress to the NFL . And it certainly isn’t the case where two of the school’s most recent athletes to have made the jump to the professional ranks have been a resounding success with their respective teams.

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In this photo taken Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly calls a play against South Florida during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll after losing to South Florida. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ……

For Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate ——- the duo have yet to catch on with the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks . But it is still early days yet in both of their professional careers and it would appear that Claussen for his part may well be the one who has more to lose at this juncture . The young quarterback is second on the team’s depth chart in terms of the quarterback position with the Panthers having selected Cam Newton the number one overall in the past NFL Draft . For Tate he may well be able to provide the spark that the Seattle Seahawks need in order to make their offense much more potent . But I hardly think that either Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst will be the cure for Pete Carroll’s need in a signal caller for the team .

As an Independent within the College Football Subdivision (D1 level) Notre Dame is afforded way too much prestige merely because of its name and the mere fact that as a school it’s literally bankrolled by NBC . One should not be at all utterly surprised by this when you consider that one the broadcast outlets most powerful executives is none other than Dick Ebersole the former head of NBC Sports and the creator of the network’s Olympic broadcast coverage . Ebersole has since been succeeded by Mark Lazarus and the Notre Dame television contract still remains in tact . Should the fact that Ebersole’s close affinity and ties with Notre Dame be misconstrued for sheer solicited bias and be seen as the primary reason why the school is s such a benefactor of the station’s largesse by way of its yearly multi million dollar television contract ? At some point NBC’s parent company Comcast may well want to review this matter and decide upon whether or not they are still in fact getting value for money in terms of their continued coverage of the school's football program. It's one thing when you're getting 5.5-6.5% ( Neilsens’ Ratings) point share but when it now borders on a mere measly 3.5% some questions will indeed have to be asked . As of yet nothing has been forthcoming by way of a formal statement from the broadcaster but one can surmise that nothing will be left off the table as they assess the strengths and weaknesses within all of NBC as a whole.

When tradition simply becomes long in the tooth insofar as Notre Dame is concerned should the public at large be asked to endure each season the football program be given unadulterated coverage in the way it has been by NBC ? Granted , the school still has its loyal legions of fans and alumni across the nation but in reality that simply counts for nothing when the school itself simply hasn’t been a part of the the college postseason fare in terms of a major BCS Bowl appearance in over a decade .

This season Notre Dame’s schedule isn’t one that can be looked upon with sheer gratification and the thought should they meet the bare requirement of having a 6 win season as part of that calendar they are automatically guaranteed a Bowl appearance . A 10 win season might just guarantee a BCS Bowl appearance but let’s not get ahead of ourselves at this juncture in terms of that premise ! The loss to USF shouldn’t come as much of a surprise albeit that Vegas had the USF Bulls as a 10 point underdog but then again Vegas is in the business of making money and not much else beyond that !

Brian Kelly and his coaching staff has a roster of players that will be looking to prove themselves . Certainly perhaps none more so than Dayne Crist , their senior quarterback on the team. Alongside Crist , also there are also fellow seniors , Matthew Mulvey , Andrew Plaska , David Pozluszny , Trevor Robinson , Chris Salvey , Ryan Sharpley and John Goodman . But this season simply won’t be about these seniors leading this team , it will however be about a collective effort in terms of the contributions all-round . If anything anything last season was proof of that for the team and the statistics posted over the course their schedule .

Having finished with an 8-5 record overall with an appearance in the Sun Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes which resulted in a 33-17 victory for Notre Dame . This season however , you can be sure that Brian Kelly will be hoping for a far more productive and successful season than last year. Anything less than a major BCS Bowl appearance has to be viewed as a major disappointment for a program that allegedly prides themselves on being amongst the elite within college football. But as I have alluded to earlier within this piece that simply is no longer the case ! The coach may well feel that the players (freshmen) recruited to complement his existing roster will be enough to make a full on run at the national championship or one of the major bowls but they will have raise the level of their play beyond what was exhibited against the USF Bulls .

The next scheduled game for The Irish will be against one of their most heated and some might say hated rivals __ Michigan (Wolverines) in Ann Abor , Michigan. With a national television audience and what is sure to be a stadium filled with rabid Wolverines’ fans , I am more than certain that Brady Hoke with have his team more than ready to acquit themselves against Notre Dame .

Amongst the players that Brian Kelly will be looking to also to provide some potency to the offense will be Michael Floyd whose own off the field issues have been well chronicled this season . But there can be no denying what the wide receiver brings to the game . He might just be one of the most prodigious talents within the collegiate football and his athleticism especially in the yards after the catch category makes him a desirable future NFL Draft prospect for a team in search of a wide receiver. My own feeling is that as good as this team may well appear to be on paper it can only go as far as Dayne Crist can lead take them ! He appears to be a player a player who is willing to learn and who applies himself to his craft but that in ofitself alone is all that is needed . It will be encumbent upon Brian Kelly , offensive coordintor and quarterbacks’ coach Charlie Molnar to have Crist and the other quarterbacks on the roster , as well as the offense well prepared. From a defensive standpoint also this team needs to be far more aggressive in its play if it is to have any chance being successful over the course of the season. I certainly don’t believe that the opponents that they will be facing will give any ground to Notre Dame . Most certainly not the likes of Michigan , Michigan State , Boston College , USC (Trojans) , Stanford or Wake Forest for that matter . It will be interesting to see how the team fares against these teams on their 2011 schedule and whether or not they are indeed good enough to mount a serious enough challenge for a BCS Bowl appearance , much less an actual championship run.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article and what if anything do you hope to see from the College Football season ? By all means do leave a comment as to your thoughts on this and anything else you feel pertinent with regard to the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) In this photo taken Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly calls a play against South Florida during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll after losing to South Florida. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ……

(2) SOUTH BEND, IN – SEPTEMBER 03: of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend , Indiana. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …..

(3) Evan Landi (9) of the University of South Florida Bulls catches a touchdown pass under pressure from Carlo Calabrese (44) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. USF would go on to defeat Notre Dame 23-20 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …….

(4) Tommy Rees (11) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks for a receiver as Trevor Robinson (78) and Braxston Cave (52) move to block against the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …….

(5) Theo Riddick (6) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leaps to catch a pass in front of Michael Lanaris (55) of the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …….

(6) Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick (R) greets Brian Kelly as he is introduced as the new football head coach at Notre Dame University on December 11, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. Kelly most recently led the University of Cincinnati to two consecutive Bowl Championship Series appearances including a perfect 12-0 record this past season. Getty Images North America / Frank Polich …….

(7) Dick Ebersol former Head of NBC Sports and under whose direction the television contract for Notre Dame was negotiated to cover the team’s football schedule . Ebersol’s successor Mark Lazarus was named by NBC Sports Group Chief Executive Steve Burke . The <a href="http://www.und.com/genrel/061908aab.html deal itself is set to expire in 2015 but there has been no indication that NBC’s parent company Comcast is willing to further tie itself to a long term commitment with the football program . USA Today / Mark Pitt ……

(8) Mark Lazarus successor to Dick Ebersol as Head of NBC Sports is seen here in London at a meeting of IOC Executives to discuss the 2012 Summer Games for which the broadcast outlet has the sole proprietary North American rights. AFP/Reuters/ David Morris …….

(9) Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talks with Dayne Crist (10) during a game against the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……..

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NFL news

NCAA Football

NCAA Football news’ headlines

Notre Dame official athletics’ website

Notre Dame/ Fightin’ Irish news

Notre Dame coaching staff

Notre Dame football team roster 2011-12

Notre Dame football schedule 2011-12

Notre Dame team statistics 2010-11

Notre Dame team individual stats 2010-11

FBS Football Polls from various sources

The 1,000 lb Gorilla In The Room ……….. Charlie Weis

The time has come for the University of Notre Dame to do the right thing and ask their football coach, Charlie Weis to relinquish his position as the team’s coach. It now makes no sense for him to continue in his role. Over the course of his tenure, this present team and the program overall has not improved, nor have they shown signs of improvement. And to see the decline of this program further under Weis, is a sign that the program’s belief in signing a big time name from the NFL, clearly hasn’t worked out. Pedigree or not , Weis’ failure can squarely placed on the shoulders of the coach and that of his staff.

Weis is seen here after the team’s embarrassing 23-21 loss to Navy ,discussing the game. And now the continued speculation surrounding his future is on the rise, once again.

The talent on this roster, if one can call it that, can be best described as being marginal at best. There has been a preponderance of missteps by Weis and his staff. Now we’re to believe that Weis has steadily improved the program ? If that is the case then what ought we to use as that perceived template ? An appearance in a non descript lower tiered Bowl Game has shown how far the program descended into an abyss of mediocrity. If one looks at the legacy of the Fighting Irish program and that of the achievements of Weis. Then,clearly it shows that this program is a long way off from where it needs to be.

Navy  midshipmen  celebrate the  team's  upset victory of  Notre Dame 23-21 in   game played in South Bend , Ind,.  picuture  appears  courtesy of   ap/photo/ Darron  Cummings  ............
Navy midshipmen celebrate the team's upset victory of Notre Dame 23-21 in game played in South Bend , Ind,. picuture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Darron Cummings ............

There’s growing dissent amongst the masses but there’s also the view that there ought to be more patience given to Weis in trying to turn the program around. If it means having to further watch the banality of what has been served by Notre Dame in its present format ? Then , the answer has to be undeniably no ! Under Weis, the program has regressed to such an extent. That, in watching this team play, has bordered on being downright monotonous. And for those who are of the belief that the team’s present quarterback, Jimmy Clausen has what it takes to make it at the next level as an NFL quarterback ? Then clearly the signs being shown by Clausen is one of a player, with bright ambition but marginal talent. Leadership wise, Clausen is still in a maturation mode, that has yet to fully meet its potential . The one bright spot may well be the play of the team’s wide receiver Golden Tate and the fact that he’s viewed as a playmaker and ready for the next level in the NFL.

Jimmy  Claussen , second  from the  left  alongside his  teammates  on the  sidelines  watch  as  the Notre  Dame alma mater   song  is  sang  after  the  team's  inexplicable  23-21   loss to  Navy in  a  game  played  in South Bend ,  Indiana ,.   picture appears courtesy  of ap/photo/ Darron Cummings
Jimmy Claussen , second from the left alongside his teammates on the sidelines watch as the Notre Dame alma mater song is sang after the team's inexplicable 23-21 loss to Navy in a game played in South Bend , Indiana ,. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Darron Cummings

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports and Irish Illustrated.com :

The burden of proof lies with Notre Dame

By Tim Prister , IrishIllustrated.com , Senior Editor

Charlie Weis stared in the face of adversity Thursday night-or at least at the thought of the adversity the Irish will face Saturday night in Heinz Field against No. 8-ranked Pittsburgh-and shrugged with nonchalance.

Will the Irish, fighting for their post-season life-and quite possibly their head coach’s future in the program-be a bundle of emotions and play hampered by their own anxiety?

“I think the (Notre Dame) team will be loose,” Weis said. “(We’re) going in as an underdog playing on the road. (We) have more reason to be loose than the other team.

“The other team is a BCS contender, playing at the top of their game. They’re 8-1, 5-0 at home, sold out stadium, raucous crowd, night game, national TV?We’ve been on national TV plenty of times before. This isn’t our first rodeo.”

No, this isn’t Notre Dame’s first rodeo. But in this rodeo, the cowboy will throw his lasso, and if he catches it just right, he will pull the noose tight around the head of the Fighting Irish and tie up Notre Dame’s chance of salvaging a season that turned precarious with one simple loss to Navy last weekend.

To be sure, there is a lot at stake for Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers, who are playing at a level not seen around these parts in nearly three decades. Their defense suffocates teams at the line of scrimmage. Their offense has balance and quick-strike ability in the running and passing games. Wannstedt’s teams are always a threat to block a kick.

Pittsburgh’s BCS bid, however, doesn’t hinge on the outcome of this game. That is connected to the next two games against West Virginia and Cincinnati. The Panthers could lose by four touchdowns to Notre Dame, yet still would land the Big East’s BCS bid with victories over the Mountaineers and the Bearcats. All that would be lost is its quest for a national title, which wasn’t a realistic expectation anyway.

As for the hoopla inside Heinz Field Saturday night, that’s not likely to disturb Pittsburgh’s focus on the matter at hand. No, they’re not accustomed to playing in front of a full house. But the difference between 45,000 fans and 60,000 fans shouldn’t have any bearing on the Panthers. A national television audience? This is 2009. Ho hum.

No, the heat is on the Fighting Irish. If either team is feeling the pressure of the noose around its neck, it is Notre Dame, which is battling to live another day and trying to give their head coach a sixth year in the program.

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Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, middle, is congratulated by safety Jarred Shannon (10), left, and running back John Howell (5) after Navy defeated Notre Dame in an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009.   picture appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/ Darron Cummings ................
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, middle, is congratulated by safety Jarred Shannon (10), left, and running back John Howell (5) after Navy defeated Notre Dame in an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Darron Cummings ................

Charlie Weis, for all of the mistakes made and you have to believe that many have been made. He continues to make the same old excuses for the diatribe that his teams continue to show on the field of play. Now, were this any other coach without the pedigree of being a former NFL assistant of Bill Belichick. Then, it shows that Weis has been given a pass by the AD, Jack Swarbrick and that of the faculty. And clearly,when judged against that of his predecessor, Tyrone Willingham. Then, it clearly shows that there’s something amiss with the policy of the faculty and that of its athletics department. The only reason why Weis is at present being kept in his position , is the mere fact that the faculty and the AD are weighing up the potential financial loss to the athletics’ program. Tens of millions of dollars rolls into the coffers, each season for the university. Much of that came from the interest shown in Weis when it was announced that he was to succeed Tyrone Willingham. And were that money to dry up , it could lead to some sort of call for Weis to be kept in place for the moment , in the hope for things to change for the better. And at this moment in time, those financial positives outweigh that of the negatives on the football field. The thought though, is how much longer can this go on for the fans of the program and that of the boosters ?

Navy fullback Vince Murray (47) runs against  Notre Dame safety Sergio Brown during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Navy fullback Vince Murray (47) runs against Notre Dame safety Sergio Brown during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Darron Cummings .................

Now clearly, if there’s a case here for Charlie Weis to remain in his position as the coach of the football program.. I for one, cannot find an answer to see how the situation can remain with him in tenure as the program’s coach. Questions have been asked and the answers that have been given thus far has resulted in a mess. The university for its part , has shown nothing more than a passing interest in the predicament that it is now faced with. Money more than anything else, is the clear driving force behind their indecision. And that indecision has led to the morass of denials from all of the parties closest to the situation. Weis is in denial , as too, in large part are the continued supporters of the coach, faculty and the AD. So the course of action now to be taken, is a wait and see method ?

Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate (23) is tackled by Navy tackle Steve Spada (51) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate (23) is tackled by Navy tackle Steve Spada (51) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Darron Cummings ............

The 1,000 pound gorilla in the room, is that of Weis and the belief that he can still be viewed as the savior of the football program. If ever there was a basis in fact that he can still make the program a success. Well ,clearly it has yet to happen. The only thing that we’ve witnessed so far, is the program’s fall from grace and the fact that the excuses are still forthcoming in the support of Charlie Weis. Who not only because of his size but also because of his proclivity to be in denial, as to how far the program has fallen under his tenure. The 1,0000 gorilla in the room is Charlie Weis and the whole world is now beginning to notice that very fact. The voices of dissent are being kept quiet by those who clearly do not want the well to run dry. Mediocrity, it appears and the financial gains that the program is now attaining far outweighs that of common sense. Or could it be that one of the greater mistakes was the fact that Notre Dame signed Weis to an 6 year long contract extension and having to terminate that contract could cost them in excess $30 million ,as well and that of his coaching staff ?

In the midst of this all, it just goes to show how irrational the coach has been. As too, has the faculty and the whole internal organization of the university. The question I’d like to ask of the fans boosters , alumni and die hard apologists of the program. Is what now ? Where’s the program going to go now ? Presently, it’s not going up and it appears the only way is further down into the abyss of mediocrity. Where do you see things going for the program ?