Irish Making No Friends at ABC

ABC-TV is quickly learning that these aren't your father's Irish. Under Bob Davie, Notre Dame has lost five straight games in primetime on more convincing than the next. IrishEyes has the grisly details here plus a complete notebook from Lincoln.

Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com™

September 8, 2001

ABC: Another Blowout Coming

By Alan Tieuli
The IrishEyes.Com News Service

LINCOLN, Nebraska (IE) You can just hear the call from Howard Katz, the President of ABC Sports, to his colleague at NBC, Dick Ebersol.

"You want them?" Katz will say. "You keep them. Just keep them off my network, especially at night."

Who’s to blame Katz? The last five times ABC has dared to put Notre Dame on prime time, it has turned out to be dismal programming.

September 12, 1998: Michigan State leads Notre Dame 42-3 at the half. November 28, 1998: USC 10, Jarious Jackson-less ND 0. November 27, 1999: An awful Stanford teams lights up the 5-7 Irish for 40 points. January 1, 2001: Oregon State, 41-9, in the Fiesta Bowl.

Add now September 8, 2001. The Nebraska carnage brings Notre Dame’s ABC prime time record under Bob Davie to 0-5, 79 points for, 163 points allowed. The Irish have not been competitive, or spirited, in any of the contests.

This is the ultimate in reality television. A network has broadcast the disintegration of a once proud college football program.

ABC is still committed to broadcasting the November 24 contest at Stanford in New York prime time. Unless Notre Dame turns it around, you can bet ABC will look to regionalize that broadcast.

And you can also rest assured that ABC will make it clear to Dr. Kevin White that it’s in his football program’s best interest to consider voting Davie off the island.

Ebersol may be thinking the same thing. And he has more on the line at NBC. He made a mistake with the XFL, but smartly terminated it after one year. Do you think Ebersol is looking forward to this Notre Dame home season? Maybe He Hate Me can speak at one of the Pep Rallies.


THE NOTEBOOK: There are little things about Davie that make you scratch your head. For instance, after Tony Fisher scored to make it 27-9 early in the fourth quarter, why did Davie go for the PAT kick rather than a two-point conversion? There is no difference between being down 17 or 18, but if you make the two-point conversion, it’s a two-score game………Fisher’s touchdown spared Davie of having Notre Dame’s most lopsided opening game loss ever. Dan Devine holds onto that dubious distinction, a 31-10 home shellacking versus Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 1976……Nebraska fans have come a long way in 80 years. Back in the Knute Rockne Days, Husker fans brought the infamous NINA (No Irish Need Apply) signs to the stadium. After this game, hundreds of red-clad Nebraska fans lined the tunnel leading into the Notre Dame locker-room and respectfully, almost reverently, applauded the Irish as they strode by………Notre Dame enacted the first significant uniform change since the beginning of the Lou Holtz era. The white away jersey had a Vegas gold stripe running from the armpit to the waistline. The Irish also wore full length white socks and the shade of gold on the game pants was much lighter……Davie took no credit for Shane Walton’s blocked punt in the third quarter, which set up Notre Dame’s only touchdown. "He did a great job of knowing their scheme," said Davie. "We didn’t make the call, he made the call. No coach deserves the credit for that, he blocked the punt and he made the call."……..Nebraska tight-end Tracey Wistrom may have been the best football player on the field, catching four passes for 71 yards, each contributing to a Nebraska score. "We couldn’t cover him with a safety, never mind a linebacker," Davie shrugged…….Courtney Watson, at his first start at inside linebacker, led the Irish with nine unassisted and nine assisted tackles. Tyreo Harrison had four and seven. Much was made after the game about the seemingly invisible Grant Irons (one assisted tackle). Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison deferred judgment. "Let me look at the film," he said. "Keep in mind, it was the kid’s first game in a year." But Irons, like Davie, is running out of time……Memorial Stadium is a fine setting, and the fans are remarkably loyal, getting into their seats early and staying tight until the final whistle. But IrishEyes prefers Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium for total atmosphere (we love the blue tick hound, Smokey). Notre Dame lost there, 38-14, in 1999 in an ESPN evening mismatch……David Givens caught a career high seven passes for 66 yards. Arnaz Battle’s first effort at flanker was uneventful (two catches, eight yards). The Irish wideouts, surprisingly, had no speed advantage on Nebraska’s corners. There was no separation all evening. "We couldn't get into the rhythm we needed," said Matt LoVecchio. "Down 14-0 early took us out of our game plan."……Nebraska’s I-Back Dahrann Dedrick ground out 133 yards on 32 carries, thanks to the Cornhuskers’ initiating contact at the line of scrimmage, particularly in the first-half. "I’m standing out there on that sideline in the first half it looked like Nebraska was locked in from a mental toughness standpoint," said Davie. "They were really in our face, we were back on our heels. I got to tell you, that disappoints me."……..Notre Dame travels to Purdue (1-0) Saturday. Davie has never won in West Lafayette and the Boilers have had an extra week to prepare…….Rocky Boiman played with some fire, recovering a fumble and Anthony Weaver had a sack of Eric Crouch……And this from the estimable Malcolm Moran of USA TODAY. "You want Notre Dame to go to a BCS Bowl? Root for Fresno State. If a WAC team gets an at-large bid, Notre Dame with nine wins automatically gets the other at-large." Moran is correct and trust us folks, no way does a 9-2 Notre Dame get a BCS bid any other way.

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