Sunday, September 24, 2006

Comparisons are Odious

You could hear the pencils scratching as the third quarter wound down in East Lansing.

Both 11-5 after 16 games. Both lost their first bowl game. Charlie got an extension. Tyrone didn't. Implied racism. Ooh, and Washington just upset (an overrated) UCLA (at home in the only semi-difficult game they've played all year), while Charlie's about to lose the second straight (in a harsh four-game opening stretch against undefeated teams).

The scribes had been waiting since December of 2004 to write that column. Waiting to stand up and say, "Ha Ha, we were right." Waiting to say all the things they couldn't say when Charlie Weis' team was winning games and competitive in defeat during the 2005 season.

And you could hear the grinding of teeth as the Fighting Irish pulled out the victory (thanks, in part, to a Michigan State implosion). ABC is lucky John Saunders wasn't mic'ed as the Irish came down the stretch. Then again, he may have been busy rewriting his rant for the next day's Sports Reporters.

God bless poor Greg Couch, he didn't want all that work to go to waste, so he tried writing that column anyway in the Chicago Sun Times today (I'm not going to link it because I don't want to give them hits -- suffice it to say it's probably as bad as you're thinking it is, and spare yourself the eye pain). I guess even Jay Mariotti needs a Renfield sometimes.

Yes, if one looks at the high-level W/L numbers, Charlie's career is starting the same as Tyrone Willingham's did at Notre Dame. But if you dig deeper than those numbers, you'll see the stark differences -- differences that justified a contract extention for Weis and show why an extended tenure at Notre Dame by Willingham could have damaged the Notre Dame program even more than he did in three years.

Work Ethic

Tyrone Willingham was lazy, with a capital L-A-Z-Y. I'm sure he has a lot of other fine qualities, but working hard wasn't among them during his ND tenure.

Don't believe me? Ask the operators of Warren Golf Course and other courses around the South Bend area, who were asked not to record the number of rounds Willingham was playing on a daily basis, to shield him both from a handicap adjustment and criticism from ND fans who might have been disturbed about how much time he was spending there. Or ask golfers on the course, who would find Willingham joining their groups around the third hole and leaving them on the 16th or 17th (and not speaking to them during the round, of course), all to avoid the already-mentioned recording of rounds. By all estimates, Willingham was playing four to six rounds of golf per week during seasons where his teams were getting steamrolled on the field and his coaches were getting steamrolled in recruiting off of it.

Or ask the coaches of high school prospects Willingham pursued. Instead of spending an hour or two getting to know them and showing them why their charges would benefit from his tutelage at Notre Dame, Willingham would meet with them for a token 10 or 15 minutes, and then head to his rental car (which, more often than not, had his golf clubs in the back seat). This really turned the coaches off, and had a not-insignificant affect on recruiting efforts.

Or ask the recruits who would show up for visits, only to find no coaches available to greet them or answer their questions. This happened multiple times during Willingham's tenure at Notre Dame, meaning he was either excessively disorganized or just didn't care.

Or ask the members of the Board of Trustees who, after the dismal 2003 campaign, wanted to discuss the problems and potential solutions with Willingham. Trouble is, they couldn't find him. He and the rest of his assistants, days after signing an unranked recruiting class, were enjoying a golf junket in Florida. Needless to say, the BOT called them all back from vacation and told them to get to work. Didn't do much good; the 2004 class wasn't anything to shout about either.

Let's contrast with Charlie Weis, who brought in a top-five recruiting class last season and is working on a possible top-three class this season. I don't think he's ever picked up a golf club in his life, and while some HS coaches may not like his brash demeanor, at least he's giving all of them the chance to get to know him and what he can do for their kids. Outside of the month of July, which is dedicated to his family, Weis is working long days (and nights) trying to improve this football program. When a recruit showed up unexpectedly last year, Weis called an assistant back off the road on a moment's notice to meet with him. The recruit came away impressed.

Weis works. Willingham didn't.

Football Acumen

Tyrone Willingham was over-promoted too quickly, and as such, is a caretaker-type head coach who depends on the abilities of his assistants. While that model can and has worked at places, it falls apart when those assistants are sub-par.

Willingham has never installed an offense or defense. He has never expressed a strong philosophy on either side of the ball, preferring vague references to a "West Coast offense" that never seemed to match what happens on the field, and defensive references that never seemed to describe anything ever done in football. He was (and is) ill-equipped to strategize any kind of gameplan, preferring to be the stoic figurehead strolling the sidelines.

Willingham was either unable or unwilling to recognize and deal with under-performing assistants. Bill Diedrich's offenses were painfully easy to dissect, and yet Willingham took no steps to rectify the situation, going so far as to try and take Diedrich with him to Washington. Kent Baer's defenses were average, and yet his employment at Notre Dame continued.

It's no accident that not only did no one try to hire ND's assistants away from Willingham, but most of them also accompanied him to Washington because no one else wanted them. It's no accident that Willingham's offense is better at Washington because UW forced him to ditch Diedrich if he wanted the job.

Again, the Charlie Contrast. Weis was known as an excellent offensive mind in the NFL, so he's well able to strategize and gameplan against opposing defenses. When hired, he went out to get the best assistants he could get, unlike Willingham, who simply brought his Stanford group with him. David Cutcliffe, the QB coaching genius. Rob Ianello, architect of Wisconsin's quality recruiting. Michael Haywood, both an alumnus and late of the Mack Brown recruiting express at Texas. And when Cutcliffe had to leave for health reasons, Weis had Peter Vaas ready and waiting.

In only his second season, it remains to be seen how under-performance will be greeted. But given the micro-management of the program in other areas, logic dictates it will be dealt with more swiftly than under Willingham.

And recruits know acumen (or lack thereof) when they see it, which is why Willingham managed only one decent class during his tenure while Weis is working on his second straight in the top five. High schoolers are voting with their pens as they sign LOI's.


Simply put, Tyrone Willingham didn't want to be at Notre Dame, and it showed. He spoke disrespectfully of the program in the weeks before he was hired, changing his tune in a probably-SID-produced anecdote about running home from church to listen to the ND reruns as a child at his introduction presser. He never understood the things that made ND special. He never connected (or tried to connect, for that matter) with the alumni, blowing off scheduled events and delivering a poor performance at the events he did attend. His representatives had already talked to Washington during his third season, knowing the reduced buyout clause in his contract would make the move easier. Willingham was all set to jump before he was pushed, and it's disingenuous of him in interviews not to acknowledge that.

Charlie Weis wants to be at Notre Dame, and you can see it in everything he does. The reverence with which he talks to recruits about the Grotto and other campus landmarks. Giving the game ball for MSU to Ara Parseghian, which is something that wouldn't have occurred to Tyrone Willingham (or Bob Davie, for that matter) if you had given him a year to think about it. It's all little things to show the ND fanbase he's one of us.

(and lest you think the "one of us" includes skin color, Bob Davie made the same mistakes Willingham did, and should have been fired after his third season, too)

Desire also shows on the field. Willingham's teams were passive. If an opponent came out of the gate and smacked them in the mouth, it was, "oh well, we'll get them next time." Weis-led teams punch back. They may take a shot, but they're never out of games even when they're behind by three scores four times in the first three quarters.

Notre Dame magic was not made by the timid. Weis understands this. Willingham did not.


I've given up depending on some media folks to do their homework, but hope springs eternal.

I hope the next time Craig James or one of his cohorts talks about ND's lack of speed, they take the thought to the logical conclusion and mention how the team is still three quarters full of Willingham recruits. They don't hesitate to talk about it when ND wins, so I hope they're not hypocritical enough to abandon the train of thought when it suits their purposes.

Ditto next season, when the team will be depending on freshmen and sophomores because Willingham's last two classes don't reflect favorably against the teams ND will play. I'm not holding my breath for a "Willingham recruiting shortfalls come home to roost" headline, but I still believe in guardian angels too, so....

I hope the next time Michael Wilbon or one of his cohorts bemoan the damage ND did to minority hiring, they also take the time to note Tyrone Willingham was as much (if not more) to blame for his failure at ND as ND was, and that perhaps a stronger foundation in football fundamentals would have served Willingham better in his career. I also hope at least one of them has the guts to call him out on his role in his failure at Notre Dame, rather than serving up softballs and voluntarily serving as Willingham's lap dogs.

I hope the next time Greg Couch or one of his cohorts start comparing Weis' record to Willingham's and alleging "panic" on ND's part when dealing with Willingham, they recognize in the next breath the foundational damage Willingham's poor gameday and recruiting performance was doing to the Notre Dame program. Two more years of this under-performance, especially coming on the heels of Bob Davie's inept leadership, might have acted as a de-facto death penalty for the Notre Dame football program. While I'm sure the ND haters would have no problem with that, excuse the ND fans for not finding that result palatable.

Weis is doing the little things Willingham never did. If Willingham had done them, he'd still be at ND right now. But then again, that's not what he wanted.

That's the only comparison that stands up to scrutiny.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, well said! Willingham came to recruit 2 studs from my home town and their HS Head Coach is my cousin. He said Willingham spent 20 minutes with each of them and 15 with him. They both ended up at Iowa. You can see one of them playing safety for the Colts, NFL All Pro, Bob Sanders! Nice work Ty!

9/24/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get what your saying, and I'm with you on your points, but you've missed the crux of the argument.

Go back and look at HOW Ty won his first games. Look at the stats, the numbers, and there's the true story. In his first year, he was 3-0 WITHOUT AN OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWN.

Even at the time, I said it - we were winning on luck and D, and neither is a consistent or focused strategy. He was flailing, and somehow winning, at the time. Then he started to flail, and lose.

Weis puts together plans, and executes (most of the time), and that is why he deserved the extension. In addition to all of your good points.

9/24/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this talk about Ty and Charlie isn't necessary. Charlie's record over time will speak for itself. And it will be impossible to dispute. Weiss will win because he has many of the qualities a great leader.

There is simply no replacement for experience and hard work whether it be in sports or in the real world.

If you listen to the people that have worked with Charlie over his career, he is totally committed to success.

He works tiredless to prepare his team whether on the recruiting trail, in game planning or on the practice field. No opposing coach will beat him and his staff by outworking them. They will do the work.

Like other great leaders, he recognizes and attracts great talent. Charlie's ability to build a first class staff is not fluke. Great coaches look to be on a staff where they can learn from the top guy. Conversely, they will not join a staff where they view that the head coach and the other assistants are not great. Talent attracts talent. Simple as that. Imagine the impact on parents and recruits when this staff is in their living room. They are committed to greatness and it is hard not to see it.

And finally, Charlie has a rare combination of passion and discipline. He uses his passion to motivate his team and at the same time is rigorous in his execution .... every detail matters.

I have had the opportunities to see many great leaders and am familiar with their telltale qualities. Charlie has the qualties to be great. No doubt. Ty did not appear to possess those qualities.

The Irish have chosen well and the facts will bear it out over time.

9/24/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During Willingham's first game versus Maryland in the Meadowlands (a bunch of ND field goals and no TD's) the Irish where inside the 5 yard line ran three plays getting inside the 2 yard line, Ty elected to go for a 3 pointer instead of stuffing the ball in the end zone. I turned to my buddy and said "This guy has no faith in his line, I don't like that attitude". Sure I got catch up in the first eight wins but I knew it was all smoke and mirrors.

It was trouble from the start with Ty-d-bowl, your observations are spot on.

9/24/2006 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful!! Very well analyzed and thought through. BRAVO!!!

9/24/2006 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger ChiTownFilos said...

If Chalie Weis has a better "work ethic," better "football acumen," and more "desire" than Tyrone Willingham, won't the next five years or so bear that out? Why feel the need to go to such great lengths to defend Weis's contract extension or Willingham's firing one and two years after these facts?

I can anticipate one response to this question: "The Greg Couches of the world must be set straight" or "Someone has to get the truth out about this situation." The problem with offering these kinds of reasons for spending so much space and energy on the Weis/Willingham comparisons when you claim that there is no comparison is that you end up placing yourself on the other side of the same Greg Couch coin. In other words, those who read your blog are most likely to be sympathetic to your position and think that Couch is reaching at best and ridiculous at worst while those who think Willingham was mistreated at Notre Dame will be sympathetic to Couch's column and think that your "insider" anecdotal arguments are a reach and sound defensive. To those less emotionally attached on either side of the issue (although it's unlikely this demographic is going to read your blog and Couch's article) would likely view both Couch's article and your response as reaching. In the end, it seems you are placing yourself categorically closer to Couch by paying so much attention to his "odious comparisons."

So, I think that "Comparisons are Odious" contributes to a circle of mutual dislike between sports media and certain factions within the Notre Dame fan base. Mark May, Mike Wilbon, and some others clearly do not like Notre Dame and think its fan base is arrogant and delusional. They make public comments based on these beliefs or write columns comparing Weis to Willingham and then someone writes "Comparisons are Odious" and May and Wilbon, etc. think, "this is why I think Notre Dame fans are arrogant and delusional" and I think it only fuels their position when as the support for your argument you parade your "insider" information that essentially means no one can argue with you because they would have to be privy to the same "insider" information as you and they are not, rendering your complaints about Willingham unarguable, though one does get the feeling that Willingham himself would have a much different version of the story. It also fuels their position when you claim that Willingham never wanted to be at Notre Dame and that, (gulp), he didn't always want to win. Outside of a relatively small group of people, these arguments are going to sound way off the wall.

Having some knowledge of your audience, "Comparisons are Odious" is, for the most part, preaching to the choir almost two years after Willingham was dismissed. What else did you expect from this blog other than your bretheren patting you on the back? Outside of that group, this blog would sound awfully defensive.

9/24/2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger gwzimm said...

Do you believe in miracles?

9/24/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Davie and crew sure enjoyed taking shots at ND, especially Charlie Weis, when they were down. I think Davie wants ND to perform poorly so everyone will think that poor performance under his tenure wasn't his fault, and continues after he got the boot. I think ND fans deserve better than the current ABC crew. I want to send ABC a message - how can we do that?

9/24/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

The euphoria has already worn off in Charlie's mind, because he knows he'll be dealing with a few bad decisions of his own against MSU. Namely, calling two consecutive screen plays (one that was a touchdown - an MSU touchdown) and going for it on 4th and nine from the 40 when your D finally showed up. And he won't do it with Davies-like excuses or Ty's coolness.

9/24/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

So are you saying I should just cede the battlefield to people who want to point out how ill-treated TW was? Then that morphs into vague fact, like the "Charlie said we'd never lose to MSU again" apocrapha that no one can seem to assign to a specific date or event.

Everything I said in this blog entry came from the people who experienced it first-hand. You may think you're cute with your "insider" criticism, but it's 100 percent accurate.

The fact of the matter is Ty Willingham was not "mistreated at Notre Dame" and never was. Unless the people who know differently speak up, Notre Dame gets convicted in the court of public opinion by agenda-driven folks who want to paint ND as the villian in this piece.

9/24/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous EMc said...

El Kabong is right on. Originally, I actually wanted Willingham, especially after watching him stoically lead his Stanford team to victory over ND. I mean, I bought into that "stoic, unruffled, genius, etc." description of Ty. Then I watched him coach ND, hear the stories of his uninvolvement in game planning, listened to his description of the new offnse which never happened, etc.
I hate to say this, but Ty was a fraud and a liar. Charlie is knowledgable, hardworking coach and is honest. That's it.

9/24/2006 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous JH said...

who cares, man. Ty is the past. No matter how much you write about the comparision, those scribes are going to say what they are going to say. So have some class and quit throwing Ty under the bus. He was hired by ND. He gave it his best shot. Not Charlie is doing the same. You don't have to defend Charlie by ripping Ty to bits anymore. Charlie is a man and can take care of himself with W's and continuing to build a program of excellence. GO IRISH!!!

9/24/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Willingham came to Cincy to recruit a Jesuit-educated Quarterback who loved ND and was also being recruited by Tressel at Ohio State.

Willingham was shorter in height than the boy's mom, made little/no eye contact with her and told em "He'd have to review his transcripts and get back to him". There isn't a kid in that school not eligible for ND.

The boy is at Ohio State. Jim Tressel came offer in hand and made eye contact.

BOT made the right call not a minute too soon to stop the Willingham death march.


9/24/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ND fans have to stop harping on about Ty Willingham. Yes, he didn't do the job. He wasn't a great recruiter, he wasn't a great coach. And because of that, he was fired. Fired. The man has taken his licks, in front of a national audience, from a school and fan base that only two years was treating him like the Second Coming. Let the man go. The sooner you all can get over Ty and focus on the present and future, the better fans you'll be, and more representative of your fine team that puts it all out on the line week after week.

9/24/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

Tell you what -- I'll stop when the Wilbons and Jacksons and Whitlocks and Saunderses and Mariottis and Couches stop.

Until then, I'll continue to combat their drivel.

9/24/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Coach Walker said...

GREAT comments...I 100% agree with everything you wrote...GO Irish

9/24/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said and last night proved it

9/24/2006 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the big difference is this Coaching staff knows how to make adjustments at the half. The past two Head Coaches just got out their book of excuses!

9/24/2006 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...'re spot on. When someone complains that we're being "defensive" about Willingham...that just means someone like Couch and Mariotti is being "offensive" about the situation. They don't deserve the moral high ground. We'll stop taking about it when they stop with the stupid comparisons. Which, by the way, will be soon - when the obvious differences in their records at ND will make the story go away by itself.

9/24/2006 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Hammerken said...

I agree 100% with your comments and I will take them further. I don't recall any uproar whn Davie got the can. Saunders and his ilk were mum. The minute Willingham becamed threatened Saunders, Wilbon et al. were outraged. Why? because the rules were appilied evenly to an African American. God forbid a minority is held to an equal standard. Ty should have been given an extension for beating the likes of Rutgers, getting shellacked on the road to a "tough" Syracuse team, mismanaging games against BC, and throwing his beloved Dietrich under the bus while negotiating with the UW Athletic Dept instead of preparing for battle vs. our blood rival. Let's be honest. Willingham only got the job to cover up for the O'Leary embarassment. Willingham benefited from being at Stanford when his normal competition for recruits (USC and Paul Hackett and UCLA and Bob Toledo) decided to neglect recruiting. Look at those rosters from those "Glory" years at Stanford. Dr. White was quick to sweep that embarassment under the rug by positioning himself as a modern day Branch Rickey. AS a practicing Roman Catholic I always thought that the braver route would have been forgiving O'Leary (A damn fine coach) instaed of giving into the media. Now we are subject to the Racist Anti Catholic rants of Saunders and the gang. Willingham and Davie share another common trait. They are both bad men, low in character and lacking any moral fiber whatsoever. During the Ohio St. vs. Texas game Davie had the nads to take credit for a winning streak as a coordinator at Texas A.M. vs. Texas. He had as much impact on those teams as I had on the '88 National Title team. Where can I get my ring and how do I get airbrushed into the team photo? In a perfect world someday the truth will come out. I know that you may not publish this because it is inflammatory to some but I know that you and others can acknowledge
these facts and hopefully the truth will someday be set free.

9/24/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

As a long-ago Notre Dame graduate (Class of '61) who's followed ND football since 1949 and experienced a lot of ups and downs for the program (2-8 my senior year!), I have this comment: Get over it! Ty is gone and has nothing to do with the future of Notre Dame football today. Why waste the psychic energy on this loser?

9/24/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is absolute garbage. What an incredible waste of time. Ty didn't succeed and he got fired as a result. And somehow you felt you needed to write a long-winded dissertation on exactly how Charlie is different? There's no reason to disparage Ty here--he's not the one that keeps bringing up his time at ND. In fact, he avoids questions about it every week.

It's not worth responding to most of the charges here but I will say that Ty worked his ass off. You embarass yourself when you asset that he was LAZY. What a joke. Sure he played golf. He also got into the office before 6am. And you know what, Ty didn't play golf half as often as Steve Spurrier. He also didn't win half as much either, which is why we mention Ty's golfing. But what an incredibly weak argument. This is embarrassing to have linked on the ndn front page.

9/24/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure this will sit well, but I really gotta think that you have to lay some of the Davieham debacle directly at Monk Malloy's feet. I think Jenkins gets it. Football, although not the main output of this fine university, means a hell of a lot to it and to its alums. I don't think Monk wanted to admit that, and consequently, didn't bring in the right people for the job.

I attended the Football Banquet last year. As Lou Holtz got up to speak, he gushingly thanked Jenkins and Hesburgh. The omission of Monk's name was glaring to me. Maybe I read too much into Lou's comments (or lack thereof for Monk), but I think the guy with the collar in the corner office currently "gets it".

9/24/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

Of course Ty hasn't said anything. That's what he has Saunders, Wilbon, et al, for. They're his designated hatchet men so he can take the high road. Saunders and Willingham are old friends, and Saunders admitted he went after ND in that piece at Ty's request.

No, Ty did not "work his ass off". Talk to people who worked with him in the athletic department. Talk to people who coached the kids he recruited. I have. They tell a very very very different story.

If Spurrier golfed more, he deserved it because he (unlike Ty) actually won the games. When you're winning games and recruiting well, you can take the time to golf. Someone getting blown out at a record rate and signing non-top-25 recruiting classes doesn't have the luxury of four to six rounds a week.

It's your right to consider it garbage. I stand by it 100 percent.

9/24/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Davie/Willingham games with 40+ points by ND in a game in 8 years, only Seven Times.

Charile in 16 games 8 times.

I think that says a lot about our ability to score at will.

When Charlie get's a defense this team will be hated even more by all the ND bashers!

Charlie has an 11 year plan and I say 3 National Titles.

Go Irish Beat PU!

TY, "thanks for nothing!"

9/24/2006 09:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best thing Davie did while at notre DDame was beat Purdue in his last game even after our favorite Bif Ten Officiating crew took took away a field goal...The greatest thing Tyrone did was use Lou as a stepping stool to bring in a couple great recruits that just wanted to play for Notre Dame. The greatest thing Charlie has done is kept the foundation from completley crumbling under after being hammered by any and everyone, and now is slowly repairing every crack, dent and blemish that has marred the Golden Dome since Lou left, and is currently making the foundation so strong that given two more years, another two sub par coaches could't tear it apart if they tried. I was in favor of the coach that ws part of creating the wrecking crew, but he didn't know what a fullback was, if you don't believe that, just listen to him now, he doesn't know what to say if a fullback is part of a play, it is rather funny. Next I thought that the genius of a strong but silent emotionless icon could be the stalwart foundation that Notre Dame needed, but the reason he was silent is because he didn't have anything to anyone. The extension is due to Charlie Weis becaue he has won as many games as Ty with less speed, talent, and shear numbers. Give Weis the defense that Ty stepped into, Notre Dame would have been holding up another trophy woth ADT on it. Well thank you Charlie for all your work, and to all the critics, keep talking, but speak softly bacuae Charlie carries a big stick.

9/24/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous IrishOmar said...

All this comparison about records made me think about my time at ND. My freshman year was the last of the Gerry Faust era when ND went 5-6. My sophmore year was the start of Lou Holtz's era at ND and again we went 5-6. The records were the same but the general feeling on campus was like night and day. I can't put my finger on it, but we just knew that things were headed in the right direction and by my senior year we had wom the NC!

9/24/2006 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line Charlie is a WINNER.

Ty came into Notre Dame as a .500 coach, and he left Notre Dame as a .500 coach.

Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with 4 Super Bowl Championship rings. Charlie knows how to win, and over the next few years his winning attitude will result in a lot of Notre Dame victories.

9/24/2006 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it funny that when Weis wins,he does so with Willingham's recruits,yet how come it isn't mentioned when he loses with them?People in the press who hate Notre Dame are going to keep finding things to rip them no matter what happens.Willingham was a lazy Head Coach who has no business at a place that expects to win,he should be somewhere that hopes to win.What he did to this program was more damaging then what any other team could do to it.It's amusing that this is still an issue and I think it's very simple why it is ,because it should not be so.

9/24/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Southern Charm said...

Well said Mike! By the way, Davies finally said something right when ND was on the short end of the score. He said most definitely that ND would score a lot, and thank God he was right... other than that he was his idiot self.

Is it just me or does the offense look a lot better when they go to the no huddle? Seems like Coach should have them do that some before the get behind.

I still can't believe ND won the game.... still seems like I'm dreaming.... and what a wonderful dream it is!

Again, great commentary Mike!


9/24/2006 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Jack Kelley said...

Solid and timely. Let it go? Big mistake. Stomp out the brushfires before they burn into the apocrypha. Almost evrything about Charlie contrasts favorably with his predecessors and many of his peers. Note to John L: Take a lesson. Over time, Charlie's record and Ty's will settle the argument. But when that happens, the hacks will slink away. You are right: the time to strike back is now, while they are still bloviating.

I'll happily email your piece to anyone who comes at me with that "same record" hooey. End of discussion.

My one suggestion would be that you add a stats-based graf culled from "The Ty Willingham Fact Sheet" plus your own knowledge of recruiting data. A cascade of verifiable facts would make us all less vulnerable to claims of subjectivity. Maybe something like the following (after correcting the approximated numbers):

The media posers, gasbags, and blathering bobbleheads who say Weis is winning with Willingham's recruits fail to note that Willingham lost with those same recruits. After starting out 8-0 -- with Bob Davie's recruits, and without ND scoring a single offensive touchdown in his first three games -- Willingham’s record was 13-15.

In 3 years Tyrone Willingham lost more games by 3 touchdowns than Bob Davie and Gerry Faust did in their 10 years combined.

In Tyrone Willingham’s 3 years, Notre Dame lost by at least 30 points 5 times. In the previous 40 seasons (1961-2000), Notre Dame had lost by at least 30 points only 4 times.

From the 44-13 loss to Southern Cal in 2002 until the 20-17 loss to a 5-6 Brigham Young team, Notre Dame lost 10 games over a 15 game stretch. That was the worst 15 game stretch since 1960.

Weis inherited a Willingham-built team with only 65(of a possible 85) scholarship players. In three years, Wilingham signed only xx offensive linemen. Of those, only xx remain on the roster. Willingham recruited 17 players to the current junior class. Only nine still suit up for ND. He left Weis with only two sophomore OL and not a single junior.

What Weis has accomplished under these Willingham-imposed handicaps is why comparing their records at ND demonstrates a firm grasp of the obvious and a tenuous grasp on integrity.

9/25/2006 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

El Kabong - I agree with your points, paragraph by paragraph, just about 100%...but overall I think ChiTownFilos makes a very good point about your "insider" arguments. A lot of the rumors about Ty's work ethic, golfing, etc. have been going around NDN so long that they're assumed to be true by the readers. But I can't think of any time I've seen any proof that Ty was lazy (granted, there are plenty of pictures, comments, etc. to prove his proclivity for golfing). This is a great summary of every Ty thread on NDNation in the past year and a half, but it doesn't make any of the anti-Ty rhetoric any more convincing.

I guess I'm just a turned off by the way you base so much of this article on stories and anecdotes from unnamed sources, while this board is constantly criticizing "hack" journalists left and right for "not doing their research". If Mariotti wrote a story about some activity of Weis's and backed it up with "ask people in the athletic department" do you think any of us would buy it?

9/25/2006 03:14:00 AM  
Anonymous yz said...

all true, but the fact is that all of the ty-fenders listed are employed for one reason - to attract eyeballs for their employers. playing to the dome-haters is a sure way to accomplish that, even more so when the irish are ranked, and double true when they can inject racial over(and under) tones. it's an unfortunate trait of today's society that all trials are - first and foremost - in the court of public opinion, facts, logic, and common sense be damned. so keep all the facts of this post handy in case someone brings ty up, but getting testy and defensive is exactly the reaction first sought.

forget ty - comparing his tenure to that of the current staff simply affords him a status he doesn't deserve. charlie and the rest of the coaches know what they need to do, know what nd means to domers, but more than anything, they know that winning is the best response to all this blather.

9/25/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

They're not rumors. I've spoken to the people at the local golf courses, and some of the people with whom TW golfed. I've spoken to people in the various alumni clubs who were treated shabbily by TW, damaging their abilities to fundraise for scholarships. High school coaches have not been shy talking about how TW treated them on trips, ditto recrits that both did and did not end up signing with ND.

If Mariotti wrote a story like this and said "ask people in the athletic department" would we buy it? If I asked those people and they confirmed it, yes, we would. It's when I ask those people and they laugh his "Chicago CEO" crap as bullshit that I don't buy it.

9/25/2006 07:55:00 AM  
Anonymous G-Ho said...

I have to admitt, folks. I am one of those that had a problem w/ Ty's dismissal. I didnt think it was fair, and I was bitter w/ ND for a while...still loved my alma mater none-the-less. Guess what happened when Charlie took over...I got over it. Both the Ty and Charlie factions should relax.

Comparisons started flying all over the place when Charlie got the contract extension. Who wouldnt start comparing and speculating when one coach gets the ax after only 3 yrs, and the next coach gets a long term deal after 7 games w/ a record of 5-2.
You would think that an athletic director and a BOT that sat through 9 years of "sub-par" coaching would be a lot less hasty in making contract decisions. It just doesnt pass the smell test. So you cant really fault the media guys for jumping all over it(especially my brothas who really liked Ty). Its called being human.

This year is showcasing the fact that there are a lot of factors & variables that determine the outcome of a game...not just coaching. Charlie can be the smartest coach in the history of football, but he cant physically go out and execute the game plan (mainly b/c he's fat). Who would have thought that our heisman candidate QB would start stinkin up the place?...And who would have thought that in 2003 Holiday would have a total mental collapse after having a great season in 2002? This is why you measure coaching over the span of 4 or 5 yrs. In statistics correlation doesnt necessarily mean causation, so you measure it over time.

My whole point in this rant is that neither guy deserves to get bashed...not even bob davie. They go out and do what they think is best for team. ND alums & fans need to realize that nobody is just going to come in an wave a magic wand,and POOF=>NATNL CHAMPS. It just doesnt work that way. It takes, time, talent, recruiting, coaching, and a bit of luck. So, everybody just calm down, un-bunch your panties, and cheer on the Irish this saturday.

9/25/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Notre Dan said...

Excellent work El K. Opinions that bash ND for their treatment of Willingham from the likes of Saunders and Wilbon must be met with sound counter arguments. And you've certainly provided more objective support for your stance than I've heard from the ND detractors.

Chitownfilos makes some nicely reasoned points and it's good to have the voice of a (supposedly) neutral party injected into discussions like these. But it’s obvious he doesn't get ND. "So, I think that 'Comparisons are Odious' contributes to a circle of mutual dislike between sports media and certain factions within the Notre Dame fan base". He's wrong. That mutual dislike is not between the sports media and part of the ND fan base, it's between those who love ND and those who hate them. There are lots of reasons to hate ND and to paraphrase many; the "delusional arrogance of the fan base" tops the list. We all know that's what makes being an ND fan so satisfying and passion inducing. The more we love ND and believe it stands for everything that’s good in the world, the more the haters hate us for it. And having haters around is absolutely necessary to fuel the passion. It's a perfect symbiotic relationship. So any time you can contribute to the circle with solid rationale, you bring a smile to my face. I just wish your views on this issue received the same stage as the ones that our haters have had.

9/25/2006 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Sei-Rish Eyes said...

Defense of ND is necessary. I work at a CATHOLIC high school and we have many ND haters here who constantly harp on the Ty firing. I have to defend ND on a DAILY basis at a HOLY CROSS Catholic high school. That's the same order that runs, ND, for those of you who don't know. If I don't defend, who will? ND haters are everywhere.

9/25/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger gwzimm said...

After all this time, why are we still bitching over the Willingham saga? He was a LOSER, plain and simple, in the same genre as Davie, Faust and Kuharich. Look at what he's done with Washington!!

I didn't like it when they hired him, I was happy when they unloaded him.

Let's just be grateful we got Charlie Weis. Win or lose, you can't deny he has ND's best interests at heart.

9/25/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure this won't be recieved well, but one fact that seems to be lost on a lot of Irish fans is that Bob Davie (say what you will about his head coaching) was an excellent defensive coach. And a simple search of the Chicago-Tribune will uncover an interview just recently published with Davie about how he still gets emotional when covering a Notre Dame game. At least from that perspective, Davie understands and lives in the Irish mystique that others just can't grasp. I would not be in the littlest bit upset if Weis went out and hired Davie to be his defensive coordinator. Then again, I can't really critique any of Weis's moves since he knows what his next five moves are going to be while I'm having trouble keeping up with his last ten.

In the end, this will all come out in the wash because Weis will absolutely overshadow what Willingham did at Notre Dame, but until that happens, I'll never decry the efforts of Irish faithful serving up a counter argument to the mostly baseless arguments of the ESPN panal of "experts". Staying quiet in a debate is silly, especially as long as you can approach that argument with controlled emotions.

Alright, let's roll to USC. My heartbeat is already irregular whenever I look at that matchup.

9/25/2006 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

I understand the frustration of dealing with Notre Dame haters who bash the school whenever the opportunity presents itself. However, we respond to that poor journalism with the bashing of Willingham? How does that make any sense or make Notre Dame look classy? Obviously, it doesn't. While Willingham's win-loss record wasn't stellar, we quickly forget the final years under Davie, the subsequent hiring fiasco with O'Leary, and how Willingham took a team with no QB and led us to a 9-3 record.

The next 2 years were characterized with poor win-lose records. But people who understand football realize that Ty left the program in better hands than under Davie. He recruited the blue-chippers that are leading the team today and broke us out of the mold of an outdated, run-first offense. He played freshmen and sophomores because the talent pool he inherited was poor. While he might not have gotten us to the promised land, when was the last time the Irish landed players the caliber of a Brady Quinn?

Let's focus on 2006 and hope that our team continues to improve over the upcoming weeks. We could have something truly special. There's no sense focusing on the past. Go Irish.

9/25/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

Sorry, Ray, I don't agree.

Yes, TW recruited the current senior class. But ND lacks depth right now because of the junior and sophomore classes he recruited, a fact that will be thrown into sharp relief next season when the Irish will depend on sophomores and freshmen at a number of key positions, particularly on the offensive line.

Bob Davie, for all his faults, still managed to recruit decently. He did not "play freshmen and sophomores", he had a number of quality players available to him that he (sadly) misused. Carlyle Holiday and Jeff Samardzija rank as two top examples.

To say Tyrone Willingham left Charlie Weis in better shape than Bob Davie left for Tyrone Willingham is flat-out wrong.

And a run-first offense is hardly "outdated". The inability to run consistently this season will probably cost ND a shot at a national title.

9/25/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we'll see what kind of speed Charlie can can't win w/o defense and a running game...both of which the Irish haven't had since Lou.....

9/25/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do I really care what Couch writes or what May and Wilbon say? The proof will be in the pudding. Of course my Shakespeare comes back to me. Methinks you protesteth too much.

9/25/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone has ESPN Insider - Pull Jason Whitlock's article on the Weis Contract Extension - it's full of lovely racist comments about Notre Damte. Post it if you can.

I guess you should expect this much from a guy that played for the 6th best football program in the state of Indiana....

9/25/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

El Kabong -

Lots of questions here. To start, how do the number of rounds of golf played each week measure the proficiency of a coach? If you're saying that Ty's golf time took away from his ability to coach, you're just grasping at straws, trying to bury the guy. Of these alleged interviews with these golf course employees, how many of them are die-hard Irish fans looking for a scapegoat for seasons that didn't meet their lofty expectations? Even more disturbing, why are we monitoring our football coach's social activities and use of personal time? I realize that South Bend is not exactly a metropolis or a hot-bed of social activity, but to spend time gathering facts on a past coach's social habits including their golf game?

I love Notre Dame and I love that we have enthusiastic fans. However, the fact that we always look for a scapegoat to blame for our past failures is disturbing and it spits in the face of the Notre Dame spirit. When I went to Notre Dame, we blamed Powlus for not winning us a title. After Powlus, we blamed a tough schedule and academics. Then it was Davie's fault. When no one wanted to coach ND, including Gruden, Alvarez, etc., Willingham stepped up and won coach of the year, but 2 years later we ran him out of town. The same people who hailed him as a hero turned on him just as fast. Then people wonder why he didn't embrace Notre Dame. He didn't get it? Maybe the average Notre Dame fan doesn't get it.

People who don't like Ty? They'll continue to point the finger. They will blame the sophomore recruiting class on him even though he was run out of town on November 30th. He inherited an "offensive jugernaut" with such players as Holiday, Dillingham, Grant, and Jenkins, managing to go 9-3 in his first year, but when he realized the cupboard was bare, he bit the bullet. Instead of starting mediocre juniors and seniors and playing for 8-4, he played some guys named Quinn and Darius and Zibi as freshmen, understanding that there would be a learning curve, but that they represented our best chance for the FUTURE, regardless of the short-term results.

Unfortunately, at Notre Dame, the future is always now, and when the wins don't come fast enough, you're gone. We built unrealistic expectations after Ty's first season and when we heard the word rebuild, we wanted answers and we wanted blood. We believe that we should always win now because "we are ND."

To make make broad-based, inaccurate statements like the always popular "Davie's recruiting classes were just as good, if not better than Ty's" is just flat-out inaccurate. How many future 1st round NFL players did Davie land? Compare our current team with the roster in 2001. Go to and check it out. The disparity in talent is unreal.

Why am I thankful for Ty? Because Weis inherited a team of Quinn, Zibi, Harris, and Darius, all with game-day experience as sophomores and juniors. If someone wants to ask some meaningful questions, instead of interviewing the starter on hole 1 of the South Bend golf course, ask Weis what it meant to have a QB with 20 games of collegiate experience, or to have an entire offense line returning that already took their lumps under Ty. Do I wish our win-loss record was better under Ty? Absolutely. Do I think Weis may become a better head coach than Ty over time, regardless of their win-loss records after 15 games? Yes. However, as a Notre Dame graduate, above all else, I refuse to trash one of our own. Willingham had a plan. Unfortunately, it wasn't a one-year plan. He'll continue to rebuild Washington, just as we'll continue to grow under Weis. Let's just wish him luck on his future and thank him for the recruits we have now. As an Irish fan, that would show a little class, and after all. . .WE ARE. . .ND.

9/25/2006 02:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I read through this I read one post that pointed to one of the primary issues I see. All of the ranting about the incompetence of Willingham and Davies is a waste of time. If we spent our time emailing ABC / ESPN sports with our complaints against the incompetence of Davies as a sports announcer maybe we could achieve some action. I emailed ABC after the bumbling job Davies did on the Georgia Tech game. I did not hear back. I have to believe that they will respond if the people spending time posting well thought out comments on this blog focused on making their voices heard to the network that might actually do something it would be a profitable venture and we would never have to listen to his incompetent ramblings or to Herbstreit or Mussberger refer to this disgrace as coach, a term of respect that he never earned.

9/25/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously a decent article. BUT - please lay off of the recruiting classes of Ty Willingham. No offense, but those guys are busting their butts out there and doing one hell of a job. I do believe Brady Quinn, Darius Walker, Travis Thomas, Tommy Zbikowski, Victor Abiamiri, and MANY other guys are recruits from Ty's era. So no matter what you have to say about Ty, please lay off the guys. You can love Weis and dislike Ty without having to attack the players. Thanks! Alum '06

9/25/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old subject; however, many in the media continue to throw blind accolades at Ty...while bouncing on any anti-Weis bandwagon rolling.

This is an outstanding article and well written. Thank you.

9/26/2006 12:50:00 AM  
Anonymous G-Ho said...

Yeah, screw Willingham! man, one time my brother's cousin's roommate saw Ty parking in a handicap spot. Oh and another time somebody on facebook said he pushed an old lady down TWO flights of stairs...and he hates puppies.

Why do you people feel the need to demonize Ty, Bob, and the rest. Just support/defend the current coach, and leave the other guys alone. They came in did their best, and didnt compromise the integrity of the program (except for maybe Lou...still dont know what really happend w/ that). Wish 'em well, and move on. Thats the ND way.

9/26/2006 09:14:00 PM  

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