I sat back on my couch on Saturday, put my feet up, and rarely raised my voice--that has to be some kind of first for me. I watched Navy march down the field and score on their opening possession, and I wasn't phased in the slightest. Normally I'd be going toe-to-toe with head coach Charlie Weis when it comes to "a few choice words." But I wasn't concerned in the least.
No raised blood pressure, no pacing back and forth—my normal worrisome ritual on Saturdays--no nothing….
I watched Notre Dame methodically dismantle the Navy defense on the ensuing drive and I knew, we all knew, this was going to be a win at game's end.
Some of Navy's previous trips to South Bend should've given us cause for concern. The Middies took the Irish down to the wire in 2003 with the Irish kicking a field goal late in the game to secure a 27-24 victory. Navy also gave the Irish a scare in '99 with the Irish squeaking out a 28-24 victory.
But this game was different and we all knew it. No way could Navy continue to score with the Irish, and they didn't.
But winning comes at a price at Notre Dame. Soon the wins won't be big enough, nor pretty enough. Saturday's win likely wasn't pretty enough in some eyes, and I sure in Weis' eyes as well.
Irish head coach Charlie Weis spoke of raising expectations when he was hired last January, and that's exactly what he's done. He's led the Irish to heights that not many could dream of heading into this season.
If any of us we're asked if we'd take nine wins, a top five ranking, a BCS game and an excellent recruiting class signed as Weis' first-year accomplishments when asked last January, we would've jumped on that in a second.
Weis has steered the ship for that likely outcome—raised expectations, indeed.
Notre Dame has two games left on their regular season schedule, and many more records will likely be set in the next few weeks.
Irish fans will get to watch a truly special player in Brady Quinn set such lofty marks that will likely never be broken.
They'll get to watch one of Notre Dame's best stories of the season, Maurice Stovall, bounce back from adversity to end his Notre Dame career with one of the best seasons an Irish receiver has had in recent memory—hopefully landing him somewhere in the first round of the NFL draft in April.
They'll get to watch, although nobody notices, Mark LeVoir end his Notre Dame career as a winner, and one of the best offensive linemen to wear the blue jersey in recent memory (by the way, he'll be picking up an NFL check soon as well).
They'll get to watch Brandon Hoyte, Dan Stevenson and Corey Mays all end their careers at Notre Dame—all of which has played a significant role in Notre Dame's success this season. Their names will likely be called in the NFL draft in April as well.
Saturday's game wasn't pretty, but it was a win, and the game was never really in doubt…..my how far the Irish have come in a short period of time. Maybe everyone, including me, should just sit back and enjoy this for a change—enjoy the final two weeks of the season—something Irish fans haven't been able to do in a very long time.