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January 03, 2006

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Hunter Baker

I don't think the situation is as cut and dried as you present it. Notre Dame could have easily won that game. They had a serious shot until the last two minutes. You've heard the saying that a game was closer than the score indicated. That was certainly true of this one, which got away from Notre Dame at the very end.

Charlie Weiss isn't playing with his team, yet. He's playing with the Willingham squad. I think if you give him a couple of years, there won't be any question that he was worth the hype.

I write all this as a long-time ND hater, but I think they are coming back to the national scene. You can't see the game they gave USC and think differently.

Temple3

There could be more to it than that - or not. USC allowed Fresno State to march up and down the field. Arizona State scored at will for a half and dominated that game until they crumbled at the end of the game. SC was not a good defensive team this year. That ND played them tight says more about SC than it does about ND.

As for the talent level, does anyone think Samardzija, Stovall, and Quinn and Fasano (all Willingham guys) can't play at the next level? Of course not. Running a pro offense under Weiss has helped them make more money going in - but that's always the case with schools that run pro sets...look at Miami in the 1980's, today's SC team, or even Purdue or Stanford. These schools routinely produce a few guys that are really ready to rock and roll in the NFL. Sure Weiss deserves credit, but ND was overrated all year long. They beat terrible Michigan and Tennessee teams. They beat a down Purdue squad. They lost to Michigan State. Next year, their schedule is supposed to be significantly more challenging. We'll see what transpires next year.

The bowl game really wasn't that close. ND never established the threat of victory in that game and didn't have the ball with a chance at the lead in the defining minutes of the game. Moreover, they had no answer for Smith, Holmes or Ginn. If the game was played for another 10 minutes, OSU might have put up another 17 points. ND didn't need more time. Maybe they needed a different roster OR a different game plan. If they deserve props for the coaching against SC, do they deserve criticism for the coaching against OSU?

By the way, I think they'll be "back on the national scene" because Weis will be able to recruit more talent and run a pro offense. If you think of the coaches who've run pro-style offenses in college, they're all doing pretty well - Pat Hill (Fresno State); Pete Carroll; Joe Tiller (Purdue), etc. It's just that this wasn't the year that will demonstrate they're back.

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