Who’s to Blame

I hate to give a plug for ND hater and BC homer Mike Farrell (who’s turned into a more balanced writer now that he has national aspirations), but here are some excerpts from this recent article on Notre Dame football: Who’s to Blame.

If recruiting is the lifeblood of any program, then it was Willingham’s efforts that let the program down.

Willingham left the cupboard bare at many key positions. The linebackers were a step too slow, the offensive line lacked any sort of depth and Notre Dame was too slow at key skill positions. Weis inherited a good quarterback, some leadership at certain positions and a few key playmakers. But what he didn’t inherit was a deep football team.

Players get better the more they are able to compete with other top players. The younger prospects brought in by Weis, for the most part, haven’t had the same advantage as players at Florida, USC, LSU, Ohio State and other major programs. Without a lot of superior upperclass talent, one can argue that players such as Darrin Walls, Sam Young, George West and Jimmy Clausen haven’t had to beat out NFL-caliber talent to become starters. Don’t underestimate this factor.

The Notre Dame two-deep is made up of a lot of players from Weis’ first two recruiting years. The quarterback is a true freshman, the most promising wide receivers are freshmen or sophomores and the two-deep on the offensive line is loaded with younger players. On defense, the story is the same, with some experienced leaders such as Zbikowski and a bunch of younger players providing depth.

Here’s a nugget from Rock’s House, Morrice Richardson will start at OLB, meaning he’s now beat out one of the few recruits that was starting from the 2004 class. Terrail Lambert, Justin Brown, Maurice Crum and Joe Brockington are the only members of the 2004 class still starting.

Here is a look at the average star rating and rank nationally of Notre Dame’s recent recruiting classes (numbers for 2008 reflect current commitments):
Year Avg. Stars Nat. Rank Signees On Roster
2004 2.83 32 16 9
2005 3.00 40 15 14
2006 3.46 8 28 25
2007 3.72 8 18 18
2008 3.84 1 19

7 Responses to “Who’s to Blame”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    After that previous post that some read that we were too eager to cast blame, I’m glad that we’ve returned to the theme that this season is all Willingham’s fault.

  2. nd71 Says:


    I agree that lack of 5th year, senior and junior raw numbers, quality recruits and inter-squad competition is a key contributor to the Irish’s 2007 on field problems.

    However, I think you might agree that a fair and balanced list of other variables would also include but not be limited to:

    + DC Brown’s 3-4 scheme mismatch with available talent. Will this persist till the 2009 season? Probably this best left to another thread for subsequent analysis.

    + failure to launch DC Minter after 1st season.

    + poor player development during the lead up to the 2007 season (lack of full speed/contact practices, multiple offensive scheme installation)

    + failure to address negative trends 2005-2007 in special team productivity via coaching change(s), organizational shifts, player switches, etc.

    The above bullets fall squarely at the feet of Coach Weis.

  3. matthew Says:

    Good job

    It is what it is !! Any rational football fan would agree with you completely.

    So lets be positive,eliminate mistakes,get Golden the ball (a few run plays), a few three and outs and you will see a different team.
    You know that breakout is near.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    So, why is ND 0-5? Willingham is still to blame? It’s people like you that make other people hate ND. I’ve never seen the same excuses used over and over in a million different ways. I guess what ever helps you sleep at night, will do. Keep up the great investigative work.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    i think 3-9 earns coach weis a 4th year. i hope he can do it.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I am a lifelong ND fan. One day you will wake up and see the light and finally bring yourself to write the truth… “Charlie Weis Has To Go.”

    The Buck stops there.

  7. Irish2 Says:

    As a former high school coach & his wife, we would like to offer our perspective on this season based on a large volume of experience. Well, we have to agree that recruiting is the life-blood of any college team; however, the lack of preparation for opening-day games or the lack of ingenuity to cover for our obvious areas of weakness must be place on Coach Weis. While being ND alums, we are not blind to our areas of glaring oversight. This year probably should have been rebuilt around DJ as a change of pace…using the spread option…its flexibility, the speed of its attack, all the components that we have players for now…would have made Weis a new study to all opposing coaches again! When a coach has the same offense, he is predictable – witness all the blitzes BQ’s senior year that worked for OSU. When a coach is different, he becomes the same as Weis was his first year – hard to anticipate. We don’t feel that Weis was committed to installing the spread & didn’t commit the off-season time to its installation. When was the last time the Patriots ran an option attack? We point to the Boise State vs. Oklahoma bowl game as a case in point…tricks, change-ups, etc. WORK despite what others think. We don’t think that this offense and all the tricks in the world would make us 5-0, but we would NOT be 0-5! On a positive note, the defense this year is FANTASTIC! The only problem with it is that they are on the field FAR too much because the offense is 3 and out. Again, we expected better thinking & planning on Weis’s part. It’s NOT rocket science after all!

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