Just about everybody except the higher-ups at Notre Dame has already figured it out: Charlie Weis isnt going to return the Irish to the top of college football soon.
A loss to Navy for the second time in three years – and at home again, no less – should be proof enough. One of the cardinal sins of coaching is losing to a team with lesser talent, which Weis has committed more than once. Whats worse about this latest loss is that afterward he stubbornly insisted he wouldnt change his approach.
Yet thats precisely what sunk Notre Dame against Navy. Whether it was complacency or their success against the Midshipmens triple-option offense a year ago, the Irish began the game using the same defensive schemes and didnt adjust until it was too late.
I really hope this doesnt come across wrong, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said after Saturdays 23-21 win, but I think the thing that helped us this year was last year, because we knew theyd line up the same way.
Notre Dame nose guard Ian Williams said much the same thing, which still had Weis fuming a day later. At his news conference Sunday, he pointed out that safety Kyle McCarthy said Navys success wasnt the result of the Irish scheme. Then Weis added, Theres a reason why one guys a captain and one guys not.
Never mind that ripping one of your own players for stating the obvious is a low blow, or even that McCarthy, too, conceded the Irish just tried to do the same stuff as we did last year.
Turns out Weis was just getting warmed up.
The whole theme this week is going to be about accountability and dependability, he said, looking ahead to Saturdays game at No. 8 Pitt. I can authoritatively get in front of these guys and say, OK, we want to talk about what happened, and just go through the game.
Without being just totally condescending and demeaning, let them know that – You want to know why you lose? Heres why you lose, and go right down the list. Its always easy, he added, because I always start with me.
Notre Dame has three games remaining – UConn and Stanford are on tap after Pittsburgh – and while a BCS bowl is out of reach, something on the order of the Gator Bowl might not be. And if the Irish are ready to settle for consolation prizes, theyve probably got the right man.
But this much is painfully clear: The boasts that so thrilled the faithful soon after Weis arrived on the scene – Now its time for the Xs and Os. Lets see who has the advantage now, he said upon unveiling his first recruiting class – have awakened all the wrong kind of echoes.