The Bottom Line

As the seconds ticked off the clock on Saturday I remembered a feeling I had after the Boston College game last season. Eagle quarterback Paul Peterson had just connected on a 30-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez with 54 seconds left to go in the game and stunned the Irish with a 24-23 loss.

I remember walking around on the field after the game and watching the Notre Dame football team and the shell-shocked look on their faces after what just happened to them, and I also remember thinking to myself: "so this is how it's going to be for the next few years."

Not for a second did I ever think Notre Dame would relieve Tyrone Willingham of his duties as head football coach, even though it was obvious to many after that loss that he wasn't going to get the job done at Notre Dame.

There has been plenty of speculation as to whether Willingham was given enough time to turn the program around….blah, blah, blah. What matters is winning when you're a football coach, and Willingham just didn't win enough at Notre Dame, and that's the bottom line.

Secondary to winning is playing sound, fundamental football, playing emotional football, and being prepared. It's also ironic that when you do those three things, winning usually follows. And that is something the Irish didn't do under Willingham.

The game on Saturday was another clear example of why I believe Willingham failed while at Notre Dame. We had seen Tyrone motivate his players to some impressive wins during his tenure, like the win at Florida State in his first season as coach, or the win at Tennessee in his final year last season. However, sometimes it didn't matter how motivated the Irish were, they just didn't play sound, fundamental football and they lost games because of it.

Willingham had his Husky players highly motivated to upset the Irish on Saturday. They made a number of big plays en route to doing just that, but in the end, they lost because of fundamentals and mental breakdowns.

Were the Irish more talented than the Huskies? I didn't see a glaring difference. Did they have a poor game plan? I really thought the Husky coaches did a fine job of game-planning the Irish and calling the right plays to win. I was honestly impressed.

But the Huskies didn't win, and when they watch film on Sunday, they'll see why—"fundamentals and techniques."

We heard Willingham use the phrase over and over, but he was always right on the money when saying it.

"If you look at five plays, we get those plays, we win," Willingham said after Saturday's game.

He's right, if they make those plays, Washington did have a chance to win, but in the end, they didn't make those five plays. And it became obvious to the powers that be at Notre Dame that his Irish teams wouldn't likely make those five plays in the future, either.

The Irish, under Weis, did make those five plays and won because of it.

It's really that simple, and that's the bottom line.


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