As they trudged off the field following a dispiriting, hard-to-fathom loss to Syracuse in last season's Senior Day home finale, Notre Dame players were pelted with snowballs.
The anger was not as visible after this year's Senior Day loss, but the absence of snow on a balmy 52 degree day was more the reason than any sort of progress by the Irish. In fact, the gloomy, misty dusk that settled over fabled Notre Dame Stadium as a 33-30 double-overtime defeat to Connecticut entered the books was an appropriate metaphor for the current state of Irish football. Coach
"You're a 6-5 football team," he all but sneered at his introductory press conference in December 2004, "and if you think they hired me to go .500, you've got the wrong guy."
Weis, 35-26 overall, is 6-5 this season and riding a three-game losing streak with one game remaining, a tough one at Stanford. The Irish were 7-6 last season, losing four of the last five before a Hawaii Bowl win over Hawaii, and a school-worst 3-9 in 2007. That is hardly evidence of an upward-trending arrow.
"Six-and-five is not good enough -- I still agree with that," Weis said on Sunday. "I intend to be here, but if they decide to make a change I'd have a hard time arguing with that."
Weis was hired to replace
When Weis was introduced as the Irish coach he arrogantly flashed a Super Bowl ring and boasted of having "a definite schematic advantage" once the talent level had been upgraded -- he was coming down from a higher league. His schemes produced two field goals in Notre Dame's last nine possessions of regulation against UConn. The thought of
The week before Notre game lost to Navy -- the same team the Irish had beaten 43-straight times -- for the second time in three years.
Turnovers, bad penalties, poor tackling and silly mistakes like an out-of-bounds kickoff following a go-ahead field goal sabotaged Notre Dame against UConn. They've been common this year. They're not the sign of a well-coached football team, any more than those late-season losing streaks are.
And the talent level? Weis was 19-6 and took the Irish to two BCS bowl games in his first two seasons. He did a lot better with Willingham's players than he has done with his own.
"His players" locked arms with Weis and insisted he lead them onto the field for Saturday's Senior Day festivities, a gesture of support that brought tears to the eyes of the self-styled Jersey wise guy. "We're 110 percent behind coach Weis," star quarterback
But those same players have known their coach's job was on the line all season, and they've hardly played like a team intent on saving it.
So a change seems inevitable. Domers will flood the blogosphere with breathless tales of
All well and good. And not happening. Meyer chose Florida over Notre Dame in 2004 for a reason: It's a better job. Many of them are. Notre Dame hasn't won a national championship since 1988 or been in contention for one since 1993. It needs an upgrade to reach the middle-class prosperity of Iowa, Missouri or Cal -- decent every year, really good occasionally -- before it can aspire to rejoin the Florida-Texas-Alabama-Ohio State ruling elite.
Still a magic name, a special place? To some, but not everybody.
Former Notre Dame athletic director
It seemed like a good idea at the time.