Not everything comes up roses in our summer prediction series...Irish Eyes unveils its first unfortunate prediction for the 2011 season: the requisite stubbed toe in South Bend.
At eight years old and during the 1981 Notre Dame
football season, I attended my first contest in the House that Rockne built. A few astute readers likely note that fall of '81 time stamp and have immediately recognized it as the outset of the Gerry Faust era...you've thus deduced I likely saw a loss that day, specifically, a 14-7 defeat at the hands of #5 USC.
Faust and the Irish finished his first season a respectable 4-2 in South Bend, but for his career, Notre Dame prevailed in just 16 of the 27 home games in which the five-year Irish leader manned the sidelines.
Relevance? The last 15-plus seasons in South Bend have been, well, Faust-ian, with the Irish running out of the north tunnel and assuming the role of gracious host.
Dating back to 1994, Notre Dame has lost multiple home games in 12 of the last 17 football seasons. More surprising, just once since 1989 has the squad finished a home slate without a loss – Bob Davie's 1998 team that concluded the regular season 9-2 overall, and 6-0 at home en route to a Gator Bowl berth.
I think the Irish will fare well at home in 2011...they just won't return to dominance, which brings us to the next installment in our summer prediction series...
Prediction #3 – Notre Dame will lose at least one home game
Head coach Brian Kelly and his staff remedied one glaring weakness of the Notre Dame football program in his first season – thanks to developed talent and an astute staff, the Irish defense is (finally) on par with a BCS bowl-quality unit.
Next on Kelly's short (must) list: defending his home turf.
From the 1987 season-opener through Week Four of the 1990 season, ex-Irish head man Lou Holtz guided the Irish to 19 consecutive home victories, a school record. The longest streak since? A surprising 10-game effort by Bob Davie's Irish from November 1997 until Week Four of 1999.
Defending their turf – Coaching records in South Bend
Of the group, just one of the program's last seven (now eight) head coaches made it through his Irish career without dropping at least a pair of home games in a single season.
- Ara Parseghian: An astounding 51-6-1 record in South Bend…finished four seasons with perfect home slates (undefeated and untied) – 1964, '66, '70, and '73…Never lost more than one home game in a season over his 11-year Irish career…Longest streak without a loss or tie was a surprisingly low nine games – the first nine home outings of his Notre Dame career (Parseghian, however, coached 16 consecutive home games with a 14-14 tie as the only blemish: vs. USC in 1969…Posted a 7-3-1 career record vs. ranked teams visiting South Bend.
- Dan Devine: Followed Parseghian's otherworldly effort with a strong 25-7 mark in home tilts…Finished undefeated in South Bend during the 1977 and 1980 seasons…Lost two home contests in 1975, 1978, and 1979…Began his career in South Bend with a humbling 3-3 home mark ('75 and '76) but reeled off victories in nine straight with wins in 22 of his final 26 home games...Posted a 7-4 record vs. ranked teams visiting South Bend.
- Gerry Faust: 16-11 home record includes two separate three-game losing streaks (not previously endured at the program since the 1960 season)…Lost two home games in each of his first three seasons…Once lost eight of 11 home games, a stretch that spanned three seasons…Finished 5-1 at home in his final season, losing only on Senior Day to No. 17 LSU, 10-7...Posted a 3-6 record vs. ranked teams visiting South Bend.
- Lou Holtz: Finished 51-13-1 after a 3-3 start in home contests…Forged three undefeated seasons at home: 1987-88-89; won 19 consecutive home games during that span, a school record that hasn't been approached, since…Lost two home games in 1990, 1994, and 1996 and three home games in his first season, 1986, though two of the three '86 defeats occurred at the hands of a Top 3-ranked team …Holtz's two-loss 1990 home slate is unique in that the Irish were defeated twice as the nation's No. 1 team entering the contest (and by "unique" I mean, "painfully awful")...Suffered at least one home defeat in each of his last seven seasons, though the Irish finished with a 31-10-1 mark during that span... Holtz's squad entered the contest ranked higher than their ranked foes/unranked foes in 9 of his final 10 home defeats…Posted a 15-8-1 record vs. ranked foes in South Bend.
- Bob Davie: Finished strong in South Bend, posting a 24-7 record in five seasons at the helm…Lost two home games in 1997, 1999, and 2001 while finishing undefeated in 1998 – the last such unblemished season at the school…Never lost three home games in a single season as Irish head coach and put together a 10-game home winning streak (1997-1999), technically the second longest at the program (without a tie) over the last 50 years…Posted a 5-4 record vs. ranked foes in South Bend.
- Tyrone Willingham: Finished 11-7 in South Bend after a 10-4 start…Won four consecutive home games to begin his Notre Dame career and then again to conclude '03 and begin '04…Lost three home games in both 2003 and 2004 including his final two contests in the House that Rockne built…Posted a 3-3 record vs. ranked foes in South Bend.
- Charlie Weis: Finished 19-14 in South Bend…Began his career 0-2 then improved to a 10-3 home mark before the wheels fell off in 2007…Irish lost school-record six straight home games in '07, finishing the campaign 1-6 in South Bend…Concluded his career with an 8-5 home mark with four of the five losses occurring in November contests (2008-09)…Longest home winning streak was five games in 2006…Never completed a home slate without a loss…Posted a 1-5 record vs. ranked teams in South Bend.
- Brian Kelly (Cincinnati): Finished 16-2 in Nippert Stadium over his three seasons in the Queen City, posting undefeated campaigns (6-0) in both 2008 and 2009 (a 12-game winning streak)…Home defeats occurred vs. Louisville and West Virginia in 2007…Posted a 3-0 home record vs. ranked foes while at Cincinnati.
- Brian Kelly (Notre Dame): Currently 4-3 in Irish home games with two-game runs marking both his longest winning and losing streaks…1-1 vs. ranked foes in South Bend.
Note: Of the group, only Holtz and Weis dropped their first home decisions at Notre Dame.
Click here for the conclusion of Prediction #3…