Hope and Change - what a new coach brings.
by mkovac (2014-12-30 12:16:07)
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This may be considered a perspective post, so take it for what it's worth.

Let us consider Notre Dame football in 1985. Gerry Faust was the head coach and the season began to unravel at 6,000 feet in Falcon Stadium. I was at the game, so it's like yesterday to me. ND was leading 15-13 and driving for the nail-in-the-coffin touchdown with about 2 minutes to go.

It had been a sloppy game, with ND incurring stupid penalties such as a personal foul when they kicked off to AFA after a score and one of our guys delivered a forearm shiver down onto a Zoomie in clear view of everyone. The penalty, as I recall, led to an Air Force score. Dorsey Levens, I believe, was ejected from the game for an egregious personal foul. ND couldn't get the right people onto the field during a change of possession and so was penalized for that. Shoddy coaching. Total Chinese Fire Drill. The Air Force fans, however, were anticipating a win, having beaten ND three times in a row.

Beurelein had ND at about the Air Force 20. First down - run with Pinkett. Stuffed. Second down, pass toward the end zone - incomplete. Third down - draw play, stuffed. Fourth down, John Carney attempts a field goal. Air Force's All America Terry Maki gets a hand on it, the ball tips into the air and is plucked by an Air Force db who runs untouched 80 yards for a touchdown. Score: Air Force 19 - ND 15. Air Force goes for two and get it. Final score: Air Force 21 - ND 15. It takes the ND bus 2 hours to get out of the crowded parking area. It take me, my wife and son 3 hours. Total Depression.

The ND football program was sick. They were poor in fundamentals, and they needed a coach who could re-focus them. They knew what their goal was: to win every game and win the national championship. That is always ND's goal. But their objectives were all screwed up. What were they: to master the fundamentals? To practice so that they knew at least 20 plays so well they could play each other's positions if necessary? To block with perfection? To tackle with solid stopping power instead of shoulder tackling?

Lou Holtz came in and set things straight. It took some time, but he focused on the fundamentals and even though we got spanked by A&M on January 1, 1987, the next season was perfection.

Now, we have a team that does not have mastery of the fundamentals. Looks like Charlie Strong's team is having trouble with the fundamentals as well. But, he's a first year head coach and he will get some time to right Texas's ship. Kelly, on the other hand is in his 5th year and after the miracle year of 2012, things seem to be a rusty ship with parts falling off, the result of inattention to detail and a scheme that is high risk in spite of poor production.

Hope? We always hope that there will be change from a season such as this. Now, the hope is for a new head coach. The chances of getting a Holtz are slim, so we are faced with a long off-season and many believe that as long as Kelly is the head coach, there is no hope of another national championship at ND. I am one of those.

Has the game changed that much from 1988 when we won our last national championship. We were 60 minutes from winning one in 2012, so it's reasonable that we should be able to field another national championship team in the near future.

But, it's completely justifiable that we should expect Kelly to tell us what his objectives are, just as Lou did, and that Swarbrick should hold Kelly accountable to achieving them, and do so in meetings during the year. OK, Brian, let's go over your goals and objectives. It's now October 1st. Let's go over the objectives since the season began. First, you tell me how you think you've done and I'll weigh in after that."

If Swarbrick is not having meetings like this, as we do with our supervisors then he is suborning incompetence once it sets in and is not nipping it in the bud.

At least, that's the way I see it. Swarbrick is just as responsible for this season as Kelly is.


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