"Man Stares Into the Abyss…

and sees nothing but darkness, this is the time that he finds his character. And it is his character, that keeps him from falling into the abyss.”

A wee bit dramatic. We’re not a recovered patient, we’re just one that isn’t on life support anymore. Right now we’re purging the staff infection. We’ve got three straight years of top ten recruiting flowing into South Bend to replace the two years of the worst recruiting classes in modern history. We’ve got a brand new defensive scheme and a just plain raw offense. A couple of good posts from Rock’s House to clarify.

Many. many people knew 2007 would be a nightmare, but that 2009 … by IrishSpirit

… and 2010 might be NC-runs. (They still might.) 2008 will be somewhere in between. If we can’t see that we may be grossly underestimating the effects of a 10 year Monkdavieham reign and misassigning the correct causes for problems. Other than making ourselves feel better while ranting, I’m just not sure what that solves? Weis will assume full responsibility as he should, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore all evidence of underlying causes. That would be like allowing the patient to blaim his heart attack on his wife’s breakfast that morning, when his arteries had been clogging on his own bad diet for years.

This DOES NOT mean that Weis isn’t responsible and accountable for last year, this year and the years thereafter. Ultimately as the HC, of course he is. It just means when you play with juniors and seniors who were ranked as top 40 talent and an OL 2-deep with 1 player that belongs there, you are going to have a top 40 team – for awhile. Especially against such a front-loaded schedule as this one.

Fans are fickle. That’s our nature. If we had played the same teams this year but started out against Duke, Navy & Stanford – we’d be 3-0 and instead of calling for the coaches’ heads, we’d be singing their praises. I’d still think we’d eventually lose 5 or more even with better scheduling, because of the lingering effects of past recruiting efforts, but maybe our younger, more talented players might have benefited from such a schedule.

At this stage of Davie & Willingham’s careers we knew they’d never compete for an NC. Many of today’s most skeptical posters today don’t go that far. As soon as I was personally certain that BD & TW couldn’t win an NC I became an early & constant critic. Going 19-6 with TW’s 1 good class and bringing in 3 top 10 classes in a row tells me Weis still could do it. Until he – proves – otherwise I intend to have his back. What is the alternative? He surely isn’t dumb enough to read this board.

Having spent almost 30 years working 100 hour weeks, Weis knows he’s paid his dues as much as anyone else in his profession. He’s very bright and hard working, so he probably feels some confidence in his ability to dictate his own future. That creates a certain long-range confidence, but I’m not sure we should mistake that for arrogance.

Because of the front-loaded schedule, Top 40 upperclass talent and the inexperience of his own recruits … I think he too knows, and has always known, that ’07 was going to be his toughest year. He also knows ’08 will be a lot better and ND will be in the NC hunt most years thereafter, as long as he’s around. After that, having seen his overweight Dad die young, he probably doesn’t expect to live a long life – but he knows his wife and kids are now taken care of. He probably spends very little time on ESPN or NDN (true ESPN isn’t as negative towards him) so why shouldn’t he smile?

Willingham had one good recruit class. Weis was able to inspire and coach the kids in that class to finally beat the teams they should over their last 2 years in college. But there was no way they could also compete against the top tier teams that were benefiting from 4-5 years of far more balanced recruiting efforts – hence the blow-outs. Perhaps made more likely because Weis decided ‘We’re disastrously out-manned but wtf – let’s try to win anyway’ rather than ‘We’d better keep it close so I won’t look so bad’.

Weis is smart enough to not care what the media or fans think, though he understands that catering to them is the price he has to pay for playing. The best thing about him (compared to the last two knuckleheads) is that he knows with 100% certainty that – whatever happens – he is completely accountable and responsible for last year, this year and the years to follow. Maybe that’s why he can maintain an upbeat demeanor more easily than we can? It’s not easy to smile confidently when trying to assume ‘responsibility’ for someone else’s game through a keyboard. Imagine if we played our own games with half the intensity he brings to his, or expected as much from ourselves in our careers as we rightly do from him?

He knows how hard he’s working and he knows that, win or lose today, there is no way he intends to let anyone stop him from winning an NC or 2 before he’s done. Aside: Will he? Besides the fact that – we – can’t know the answer to that question, the truth is it doesn’t really matter at this point. What matters the most for now is that – he – “Knows” he will.

I think Weis looks further down the road than we do and he knows exactly where he’s going. We’re just along for the ride. Occasionally though, you have to admit … it can be amusing to note the irony of our own arrogance, in thinking we’re actually driving his bus.
3 years ago many thought Ty had us standing at the edge of the abyss.
by IAND75 — Anyone who followed ND closely knew that we had stepped off the edge and had fallen into the darkness. There was a real sense that we may had passed the point of no return. That even with a great coach Notre Dame could not return to the ranks of the elite becaue of a lack of talent. The lack of success would prevent us from recruiting the needed players, which would lead to greater failure, which would further inhibit our ability to recruit, which would… It seemed that the irrecoverable death spiral had almost commenced.

The hiring of Weis was the first step in trying to halt the fall and begin the climb back out. I think many sensed that we had one chance to get this right.

Some may have been fooled into thinking that Weis had accomplished the turn around, especially much of the sports media and those who follow ND casually. The reality is that Weis stopped the free fall and stabilized the program. He began the very difficult and risky climb back out of the abyss.

But he has not reached the edge. There is not a sufficient depth of talent to be somewhat self sustaining. It is not clear that all the needed pieces in the coaching staff are there. The risk still remains that we could slip and once again begin the free fall into the darkness.

This is a high risk season. It is not simply about this team’s win-loss record, or Weis’ legacy. It is still about the long term success and viability of Notre Dame as a major football powerhouse. Of course I want Weis to be successful. He is one of us and his heart is in the right place. Of course I want the players to be successful. They are Notre Dame students, with their own dreams not unlike those of us that have gone before.

But this is all about the long range survival and success of the program and the University.

Changing coaching staffs or players isn’t an option. The people we have are the ones that are going to have to make that climb out.

I’m not going to criticize the staff or players on the boards anymore. In private I’ll speak my mind. But not on a forum read by thousands around the world. It has become us against the world.

Saunders, James and Flutie were giggling with glea like little school girls after the game. They loved being able to use the term inept over and over. They reveled in pronouncing ND “that bad”. We can expect more of the same from every corner in the weeks ahead.

I’m mad. I care far too much about this university to be ambivalent about this season. The risks are too great. Privately I may have doubts, but to the rest of the world this is my coaching staff and these are my players. They are all we have to finish the job of saving this program from the near fatal wound inflicted by Davies and Willingham. Failure in the long range goal is not an option.

I still believe the day will come where Saunders, James, Flutie, May, et al., will choke on their own words as they have to describe a dominant ND team week in and week out. I am not going to give up on that dream.

In the meantime I’ll take solice in the knowledge that were I to die tomorrow I would go straigtht to heaven. Having sat through the GT game in east stands, and watched the Penn State game surrounded by rabid Iowa fans, and suffered through the Michigan game cold stone sober I have no doubt that any required time in Purgatory I may have accumulated has been wiped clean.


19 Responses to “"Man Stares Into the Abyss…”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    As they say, “he who laughs last, laughs best” Notre Dame will have the last laugh. As for Saunder’s, he is a proven bigot anyway, so who cared what he has to say.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    It’s hard to know where to begin. For a second, I thought I was watching a high school team playing Michigan on Saturday. Suddenly, there was Gerry Faust pacing the sidelines. I am a die hard ND fan, and watching this is very painful. Just like the rest, the media has gotten to me, and I am now second-guessing the Weis era. Please, someone tell me this will end, and Mark May will be relegated to some radio station in Po Dunk, Nebraska.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Finally a post that reflects my sentiments exactly. I’m so disappointed by how quick everyone jumped ship and started calling for Weis’ removal.


  4. DrewDog Says:

    Rock, please tell Charlie to add 2 TEs, Carlson next to Sam and put the other in motion to the right side and run right. Just get a push! Something, anything! Do this 3 times every series. Anything other than every play having the opposing defense in our backfield before Jimmy can get set. And tell Armando to quit running into the backs of our linemen!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Having serious doubts the program will ever come back. It’s been at least 14 years since ND was really championship calliber. The soon to be seniors in H.S. will never know ND to be any good. All they’ll have is tapes of the past. Might be the time to consider canceling the program, ND is more then football anyway.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Hey, lost in the most embarrassing showing in recent memory: Am I the only one who took umbrage w/ Brad Nesser’s comment at game’s tail-end when, as the sun apparently made its presence: “…It’s as if God is shinning down on Michigan; and Notre Dame are supposed to be the Catholics…” What the heck is that about, and is it necessary??? (And peolple wonder where all the hate for the Dome comes from!)

  7. jim / Redondo Beach Says:

    Willingham’s fingerprints are all over this team (66% of his recruits started against GT). This isn’t to say that mistakes haven’t been made during this 5 game debacle…Yet…The “debate” on Willingham vs. Weis is not even close…follow the recruiting. While Weis is playing Willingham’s 5th year seniors, seniors and juniors…Willingham is playing (besides an excellent true freshman QB Locker) previous coach Gilbertson’s 5th year seniors, seniors and juniors.

    In three years at ND Weis has recruited 18 Top 100 HS players (Rivals.com). In three years at UW Willingham has recruited 1 Top 100 HS player (Locker). And to add insult to injury…in three years at ND…Willingham recruited 3 Top 100 players… none in the year he was fired.

    So…which would you rather be? A University of Washington fan at 2-1 with top 45 recruiting for the last 3 years…or an ND fan at 0-3 with top 10 recruiting for the last 3 years (#1 in 2008)? The glow of your “Fire Weis!” peppermint schnapps has evolved by now into a dull throb…you tell me.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Please stop blaming TW, it is getting old. CW is the coach now and responsible for this miserable season. If he is such an offensive genius why hasn’t his offense scored a single touchdown? Shouldn’t a genius be able to take mediocre talent and make them good? CW is not the offensive genius we settled for after losing out on Urban Meyer. The talent he recruited will win some big games but he can never coach them to a NC…

  9. Anonymous Says:

    here here Rock.

    I too have been a fan since my youth.

    The first memory I had as a child was watching Montana coming back from the Cotton Bowl.

    I remembered watching the game with my father. ANd while he has gone…my vivid memory remains of us watching that game and many others.

    Yes…Let’s be real..We are terrible right now. I hate to admit it…but we are.

    BUt only through failure can the character of a man..or 77 young men in this case..be tested.

    USC can have the pick of the litter, but most guys who come out of there..can’t even carry on a proper conversation.

    LSU…yeah they can run..but if you ask them what global warming is…they’ll ask for you to super size it with some fries on the sides.

    WE ARE NOTRE DAME..let’s not forget it.

    Yeah, this year is gonna be hell…it already has been…but let’s pull each other up from the bootstraps…lets go through this thing together

    and in two years…we can say to all those knucklheads at espn to jump off a lake…



  10. Anonymous Says:

    Notre Dame, Our Mother, tender strong and true.

    Proudly in the heavens, gleams thy gold and blue.

    Glory’s Mantle cloaks thee, golden is thy fame.

    And our hearts forever, praise thee, Notre Dame

    And our hearts forever, love thee, Notre Dame.

    Easy words to say, harder to practice

  11. Marcus M. Says:

    If you’re going to heaven for watching the games as you did, I get to be seated at God’s right hand. I was in the stands for Georgia Tech right next to the visiting section, and I sat in the students’ section for the Michigan debacle.

    I hope you’re right…that it’s darkest before dawn. I’m perilously close to believing the sun isn’t going to rise at all. Which is to say I’m not there yet. I want to believe…I just keep waiting for our team and our coach to give me something to believe in.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    As an Irish fan for life I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you. You are person I would share a foxhole with. This is the best ND blog on earth. Your fair level headed evaluation of what is happening in South Bend has truth and vision. May God bless you and Notre Dame. VJF

  13. houndlover Says:

    I agree. I believe it will take a few years, and my focus will be on watching this staff and group of players develop. There is nothing better than seeing that culmination in sports. I believe Charlie will do it, and I like the potential of Jimmy, Golden and Armando. Great programs build their lines on both sides of the ball. Until this is corrected, we will struggle.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    The reality is the team stinks right now. Forget about the Fluties and Mays delighting in the trouncings. When ND does get anywhere near claiming another championship, the bandwagon people will already be claiming credit for having always respected Notre Dame. What we need now is an offensive line.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    to the legions of Notre Dame haters: This is YOUR TIME! Hit us with your best shot. All those tired cliches and zingers you’ve been saving for years – THE TIME IS NOW.

    You have until the end of this season and possibly into the middle of next season.

    Irish fans TRUE Irish fans – just grin and bear it. Show as much grace as you can, (all the while mumbling “just wait, m.f.” under your breath – just like me.)

    I hate to say “character builder” so I won’t.

  16. Erik Says:

    Stay the course. I have faith in Charles. You gotta have faith baby. We still as of today have the #1 recruitng class this year.

    Remember the same ass hats on TV were saying we would be absolutely awful the past two years, but we were ok, and even better. Now they are saying we will be awful for the next few years and to bail on Charles. Eff them.

    This program is in good hands and will do better under Charles.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    I hate to say it but we (as Notre Dame fans) seem to be somewhere between myopic and blind when it comes to Weis’ accountability for this year’s struggles. To continue to blame TW for “leaving the cupboard bare” seems ridiculous. We crowed over Weis’ genius as he led TW’s underachieving players to the BCS and we applaud Weis for two consecutive stellar recruiting classes. However, now we bemoan the lack of depth and the abundance of “Top 40” or 3-star players that can’t lead us to a winning season.

    Hold on a second.

    You can’t on one had give Charlie credit for winning with TW’s players and then change your mind and say those players aren’t any good when the losing starts. And there are PLENTY of programs around the country that get by with recruiting classes less acclaimed than anything TW ever had. Look at Boston College. They beat the same Ga Tech squad and havent had a decent recruiting class since … who knows when. I watched the Huskies and the Buckeyes this past weekend and saw Ohio State’s starting lineup LOADED with sophs and they seem to be doing alright. The announcer even remarked their depth is so thin they have three walkons in the 2-deep on the offensive line and only 2 players remaining from their 2003 recruting class. Now people are picking them to win the Big 10?

    I think in order to right this ship we need to take a hard look at what’s wrong and quit making excuses for what was. We can’t keep praising Weis for being a great coach and recruiter when so many programs are doing much more with a lot less.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Can anyone tell me who was the person that originally said the quote “When a man stares into the abyss and sees nothing but darkness, this is the time that he finds his character. And it is his character, that keeps him from falling into the abyss”?

    This quote was not from Nietsche who said something similar “If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you.”

    Thanks in advance!

  19. Scott Michael Engler Says:

    Wall Street

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