By Stewart Mandel
November 21, 2009

The news out of South Bend, Ind., on Saturday will undoubtedly focus on the losing coach. Let's take a minute, though, to salute the winner.

Just moments after Andre Dixon ran into the end zone in double-overtime to seal Connecticut's 33-30 upset over Notre Dame, coach Randy Edsall -- whose team has dealt with unthinkable tragedy and a slew of heartbreaking losses this season -- conducted an interview with NBC's Alex Flanagan. He began by pledging to bring the game ball home to the members of slain cornerback Jasper Howard's family, pointed his finger to the sky to salute "No. 6" and proclaimed "Jazz, this one's for you, god dang!"

By the end of the interview, after talking about "little known Connecticut" coming to play "this storied program" and notching "the best win we've ever had," Edsall was choked up and weeping. I'm guessing a whole lot of people watching were, too.

You couldn't find a coach or group of players more deserving of a triumph than the Huskies, who improved to 5-5 with the victory. Entering Saturday, their last win had come against Louisville back on Oct. 17 -- about nine hours before Howard was stabbed to death outside of the school's student union.

But with Edsall's joy comes further misery for doomed Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. The fifth-year coach likely needed an upset at Stanford next week to have any shot of keeping his job -- but even that was assuming the Irish took care of business against the Huskies. Instead, Notre Dame, once 6-2, dropped its third straight game, likely setting up its second straight 6-6 regular season.

As Connecticut's Dave Teggart lined up for a last-second 37-yard field goal that would have won the game in regulation (he missed wide left), NBC showed footage of Weis at his introductory press conference in 2004, back in his cockier days. Notre Dame, at that time, had just completed a 6-5 regular season.

"If you think they hired me here to go .500, you've got the wrong guy," he said.

Well, they got the wrong guy.

Notre Dame hired Weis based on his reputation as an offensive guru, and in that department, he largely delivered. He led the Irish to consecutive BCS bowls his first two seasons behind Brady Quinn and a high-scoring offense. Saturday, Jimmy Clausen threw for 300-plus yard and both Michael Floyd and Golden Tate recorded more than 100 yards receiving. That's been par for the course this season.

But so, too, has teams with seemingly inferior talent having their way with Notre Dame's defense. Connecticut running backs Dixon and Jordan Todman combined for 244 yards on the ground, much of that coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Imagine what Stanford's Toby Gerhart might do next weekend.

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbick has continually insisted he won't make a decision on Weis' future until after the Stanford game. But he's also made it clear money won't be a factor. And it won't. It's now a matter of when, not if, the Irish make a change. Next time they need to find a coach, not a play-caller, a guy who inspires confidence and gets the most out of his talent.

They lost to just such a coach Saturday.

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