Seven Hours in Notre Dame Nation

If you were otherwise occupied on Saturday night, good for you. Here's your topline Notre Dame update: The football team lost, the men's basketball team won. You want more details? IrishEyes Managing Editor Alan Tieuli, with a little help from network friends, has seven hours of chronological details and analysis. The range of emotions are all here on two programs clearly going in different directions.

Copyright by Global Electronic Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™

November 24-25, 2001

Davie’s “Darkest Hour”
 To a Hawaiian Sunset

By Alan Tieuli
The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

It’s a holiday weekend.  The Notre Dame football team is playing simply for pride.  It’s still too early to get really excited about the men’s basketball squad.  The Harry Potter lines are getting reasonable, there’s only so many times you can tell your mate that “I’ve been waiting all year for this game,” especially with your DirecTV bill approaching three digits.

So just in case you missed the ND doubleheader Saturday night – Irish grid at Stanford; Men of Mike Brey in Hawaii versus Chattanooga – never fear.  Your trusty Phidippides handled the seven-hour marathon for you, and here is chronological commentary, with help from some of our broadcast friends.

(All Times Eastern)

7:13 p.m. – Oklahoma State finishes off Oklahoma.  We’re reminded that Notre Dame has not beaten a Top 5 team on the road since Sept. 11, 1993.

8:03 p.m. – ABC’s Keith Jackson signs on with a poetic weather report only he could pull off: “Most of the hay is already in the barn on The Farm.  It’s a good thing, it’s really wet.”

8:07 p.m. – Sideline reporter Todd Harris notes that Notre Dame’s potential “wish list” of candidates to replace Bob Davie include, in order, Tyrone Willingham, Rick Neuheisel, Jon Gruden, Mike Bellotti, Bob Stoops, Steve Mariucci, Joe Tiller and Tim Murphy.   IrishEyes comment: “Willingham would be a PR homerun, and he can coach.”

8:14 p.m. – Two plays in 75 yards before Cardinal drive stalls.  Stanford leads, 3-0, on a Mike Biselli 29-yard field goal.

8:18 p.m. – Jackson:  Arnaz Battle, remember him, has checked into the game.”  IrishEyes: “Who?”

8:35 p.m. – One reason to consider DirecTV pay-for-view events:  Virtually all the commercials are for ESPN.  IrishEyes: “Our three favorites: 1) George “Marquis de Sod” Toma; 2) Rich Eisen being “sent down;” 3) Anything with Joe Titeshortz.

8:39 p.m. – Davie in interview: “In some ways, and this may shock a lot of people, we are like a military academy.  We have to be a disciplined offense.”  IrishEyes: “Who cares about the BCS when you have the Commander in Chief Trophy to play for?”

8:40 p.m. – Omar Jenkins scores on a 47-yard slant pass – probably Notre Dame’s most athletic play of the season.  It culminated an outstanding 95-yard, 11-play drive.  Irish, 7-3, in a driving rain storm. 

8:51 p.m. – Early in second quarter, Julius Jones – running harder than any game since Nebraska, 2000 – pops off a 59-yard run.   But, of course, Tony Fisher moves early on second-and-goal and Kevin Rogers’ “military offense” calls for a straight off-tackle on third-and-goal from the five.   Nick Setta field goal makes it 10-3.

9:04 p.m. – Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison brings Rocky Boiman up as a fifth lineman on fourth-and-two from ND-19 and the strategy blows up Cardinal play.  An active Grant Irons recovers fumble.  IrishEyes: “Notre Dame playing a physical, classic  road-game style.  If only this was Lincoln in September.”

9:24 p.m. Kurt Vollers is ejected for an illegal “chop block” sending Davie into rare hysterics on the sidelines.  It also sabotages an Irish drive that could potentially expand the lead by halftime.  It stays 10-3 at intermission.

9:36 p.m. – ABC gave Davie the velvet gloves treatment.  At least until Terry Bowden brings down the hammer in the studio “At one time, Notre Dame would turn down Bowl invitations.  Now, Bob Davie will accept one just to save his job, not the dignity of a once-proud program.”  

9:59 p.m. – Irish maintain control of both lines of scrimmage as second-half begins.  Irons, playing one of the best games of his career, sacks Randy Fasani to kill first Cardinal possession.  IrishEyes comment:   “You can’t help but root for this kid.  If there is a reason to go to a Bowl, it’s Grant Irons.”

10:09 p.m. – Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers finds a way to complete a forward pass.  If he can’t find an aerial that Carlyle Holiday (one-for-nine to this point) can complete, he’ll throw the ball to Holiday.   Battle does the honors on an option reverse, good for 17 yards, and it sets up a 38-yard Setta field goal.  Jackson: “Stanford is just getting hammered.”

10:16 p.m. – Holiday leaves game with severe cramping in both calves.  Meanwhile, the skies open with the heaviest rain of the night.  Stadium by now is virtually half filled with Notre Dame fans, loudly chanting “Let’s Go Irish.”

10:33 p.m. Tyreo Harrison sacks Fasani, Notre Dame’s fourth of the night, as Irish continue domination of a Cardinal offensive line that has a combined 134 career starts.  ABC color man Tim Brant: “It looks like Ross Browner and Chris Zorich are in the Irish defensive line.”

10:44 p.m. – Brant: “The last time Kevin White made a change with a football coach it was Buddy Teevens for Greg Davis at Tulane.  When you make a change at Notre Dame, it’s a career-maker.”

10:58 p.m. – Irish defense has been so dominant it’s almost easy to forget that Holiday has just thrown his 13th straight incompletion. “Can you believe this?” Davie says on the sideline, sensing that things are slipping away.  Assistant coach Steve Addazio counsels Holiday.  IrishEyes: “Has anyone ever seen Addazio and Jim Colletto in the same room at the same time?”

11:04 p.m. – The defense can only do so much.  Stanford drives 81-yards keyed by 46-yard Fasani pass to Nick Sebes.   Casey Moore scores from nine yards out to make it 13-10.

11:08 p.m. – The wheels are coming off.  LoVecchio replaces an utterly ineffective Holiday.  Three-and-out.   Joey Hildbold shanks a 15-yard punt.

11:10 p.m. – On the good news side, the comforting voice of Jack Lorri signs on with Notre Dame basketball pre-game show from Honolulu.  If at all possible, you can hear the sun setting on the Hawaiian horizon.  With the football game slipping away, we’re transporting to a “happy place.”

11:16 p.m. – Crisis time.  Fasani, on QB draw, gains 19 yards to Irish 18.

11:18 p.m. – Embattled Clifford Jefferson gets flagged for pass interference on Teyo Johnson at the worst possible moment – third-and-12.  IrishEyes: “There’s a reason why he’s called Highway 15 in the press box.”

11:22 p.m. Kenneth Tolon scoots in from one yard out, even though Notre Dame had the pitch seemingly strung out.   Defense is exhausted, program is defeated.  

11:25 p.m. – LoVecchio, on the first play following the kickoff, is intercepted by Tank Williams.  Brant: “You can’t win when you can’t pass.”  Irish quarterbacks (past, present and future) are two-for-20 for game.  IrishEyes: “It’s always something.”

11:27 p.m. – ABC flashes graphic that Notre Dame has lost nine straight road games.  Brant: “This could be Bob Davie’s darkest hour.”

11:29 p.m. – Jackson sounds like a Davie apologist when he opines, “You can’t accumulate a talent pool the way you used to be able to.  I remember a Rose Bowl when Michigan brought 71 players.”

11:30 p.m. – Game ends.  Davie quickly shakes hands with Willingham and jogs briskly to the locker-room.  Irish Bowl eligibility is gone.

11:37 p.m. – Final statistics are distributed.  Teams combined to complete 10-of-43 passes.  Notre Dame had 75 total yards of offense in the second-half.  Davie is now 34-25 for his career and if he loses to Purdue will have exactly the same number of career losses as Gerry Faust had in five years.

11:50 p.m. – After Lorri and his able partner, Jack Nolan, fill during an interminable pre-game show (which featured a painful Nolan interview with the soft-spoken Ryan Humphrey), Notre Dame-Chattanooga tip off from a nearly empty Blaisdell Center, not far from Pearl Harbor.

11:54 p.m. – A soaked Davie meets the media.  Speaking like a man who knows he’s at the end of his rope, he is candid. “We were completely anemic in the second half,” Davie snapped “We couldn't get anything going offensively to break the game open, and we even had tremendous field position. We couldn't make a play. This was a tough way to lose. We're 114th in the nation in pass offense, and we looked like it tonight.”

11:59 p.m. – Holiday didn’t shy away from his worst performance as a collegian or the trainwreck that this season has become.  It's just one of those things you dream about, but you hope it doesn't ever happen,” the personable Holiday.  “It's not anybody's fault. We just didn't get any plays that we needed to get, in this game or all season.”


12:01 a.m. – Irish hoopsters shake off sluggish start to take first lead on Chattanooga, 9-8.   Nolan: “Notre Dame has evolved to match the athleticism of a Tennessee-Chattanooga.”

12:07 a.m. – Lorri describes Harold Swanagan as a “scoring machine” as Irish whip together 12-0 run to take 18-9 bulge.

12:14 a.m. Chris Markwood getting extended look at back-up point guard to Chris Thomas. Irish struggling, however, up only 21-20, with Humphrey (26 first-half points Friday) scoreless.

12:21 a.m. Matt Carroll, with his parents and grandparents watching after making the 5,000-mile trip from Pennsylvania, hits his fourth straight three-pointer.  Irish lead, 32-27.

12:25 a.m. – What makes Lorri so good on play-by-play is you can feel his emotions over the air.   Right now he’s pretty ticked off that the Irish can’t seem to gather a defensive rebound against the Southern Conference “Mocs.” 

12:30 a.m. David Graves drains three-pointer at halftime buzzer to give Irish 40-34 halftime advantage.

12:50 a.m. – One gets the feeling that Humphrey is going to enjoy playing with Thomas.  The point-guard makes consecutive pinpoint passes into the low blocks and Humphrey converts both.  Irish up nine.

1:00 a.m. – This is really becoming work for your typist.  But Notre Dame is pulling away, 59-44, as Thomas has hit all four of his shots along with all six of his free throws.  This perfection comes after two consecutive games with zero turnovers.

1:10 a.m. – A warm bed really seems enticing when Nolan announces that there are maybe 200 people in the Blaisdell Center stands.  But, to quote Clark Griswold, “This has become a quest.” And blasted Chattanooga just got the deficit back down to 12.

1:15 a.m. – The lead moves up to 14 with eight minutes left – all five Irish starters are in double-figures -- and unless something ridiculous happens (and it rarely does with Brey on the bench), Notre Dame will move to 4-0 for the second year in a row and have a chance tomorrow to win its first five for the first time since 1979-80.

1:21 a.m. – Lorri is clearly enjoying watching this now, watching Graves shooting lights out as the lead extends to 19.   This is Lorri’s 33rd year covering ND hoops and a great auction item for any serious Irish fan would be dinner with this guy.  Ask him about the “Swedish National Team.”

1:25 a.m. – Notre Dame has two more starting quarterbacks on its roster – including Gary Godsey – than it had completions last night. 

1:28 a.m. – Carroll’s sixth three quells a brief Chattanooga – the Mocs can shoot it -- run.  Irish up 16 with 2:10 to play.

1:45 a.m. – Yes, it took 17 minutes to play the last two minutes and someone from Chattanooga – fouling on every possession -- is going to pay.  My kids are almost grown and sleep deprivation has lost its appeal.  Notre Dame 97, Chattanooga 84.  Irish face Monmouth, a Northeast Conference foe from New Jersey, in today’s final (10:30 p.m. Eastern).  A victory would mark ND’s first multiple-game, in-season tournament title since 1992.


1:52 a.m. – Six hours and 39 minutes later, and I’ve learned very little I didn’t already know.  Davie and his players keep letting each other down.  The basketball team may not miss Troy Murphy as much as most people think.  There’s much more work to be done in the next few weeks as these programs are going in dramatically different directions.


 (Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes and can be reached at Top Stories