A Fitting Endposted by John Vannie
Notre Dame led by 24-13 in the first half on the strength of Jimmy Clausen's passes to Golden tate and Michael Floyd, but Stanford kept pounding Notre Dame with a relentless ground game led by Toby Gerhart. The Cardinal finally caught the Irish at 38 with nine minutes left in the game when Gerhart threw a wobbly scoring pass to Ryan Whalen and Stanford successfully executed a two point conversion.
The Irish offense could not sustain a drive on the next possession and punted to the Cardinal 28 with six minutes left. Gerhart took over and willed his way through Irish tacklers until he reached the Notre Dame four yard line with a minute remaining. When Weis realized that Stanford could run out the clock and score the winning points without fear of reprisal, he ordered his defense to let Gerhart walk into the end zone on the next play.
Clausen took over deep in his own end with 59 seconds on the clock, but the last gasp comeback died when his offensive tackles gave up untimely sacks as they have throughout the season. The Irish fell to 6-6 for the year, which is an outcome that even the most pessimistic fans had not predicted.
A press conference announcing Weis' departure is a mere formality at this point. The embattled head coach avoided the media before and after the game, but expressed confidence to friends and colleagues that he would land on his feet with another coaching position (probably as an offensive assistant in the NFL).
Notre Dame fans are more concerned about the second press conference that is yet unscheduled. This will take place when a new coach is ready to be introduced, and speculation has been running rampant since the loss to Navy on November 7. Bob Stoops and Brian Kelly are the names most frequently mentioned, but I would not be surprised if another dark horse candidate emerges as the designated savior.
Let's hope that Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick and the Notre Dame administration have a better plan than the Hail Mary pass that fell harmlessly to the ground as the Charlie Weis era came to a merciful end.