News and Notes: 1/2/2007

NEW ORLEANS- The game cannot come soon enough. The buildup for the January 3rd Sugar Bowl contest between No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 4 LSU has been stretched out for a month. The Irish team has been down here in the Big Easy since last Tuesday. Judging by the comments, everyone on both sides of the ball are ready for kickoff.

"It feels like an eternity to play the game," Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis said. "You get down here with more than a normal week's schedule. You have extra time. Football players are creatures of habit and get used to a routine. I think right now our players are anxious for tomorrow, get the hoopla out of the way and play a football game."

Notre Dame has also had a week to here about how good the Tigers are. LSU, on paper, is an excellent football team. Their defense is highly ranked in the major statistical categories. Offensively, the talk has centered on quarterback JaMarcus Russell and his rise to stardom this season. Usually, Irish quarterback Brady Quinn dominates the storylines. Not the case this week in New Orleans, where some are pondering how high Russell would be drafted if he declares for April's NFL Draft. The love for the Tigers and general feel that Notre Dame has little to no chance has been heard by the Irish.

"You do get tired of hearing it and you do use it as motivation," Weis said. "But the bottom line, when it's all said and done, who cares what anyone else thinks? The bottom line is that when you kick it off, you're going to be smacking each other in the mouth. That motivation stuff doesn't last too long. It's how you play."

Some of the possible motivation has come from LSU's Dwayne Bowe. The Tiger wide receiver said on Saturday that Notre Dame does not know about the speed of the SEC and LSU is much faster than the Irish defenders. This comment and others have found their way to the Notre Dame bulletin board.

"The bulletin board is full," Weis said. "But as far as that goes, our players are respectful about the LSU players and program. I don't think they are worrying too much about what people say. Our players would never be disrespectful to an opponent."

*New Orleans is not a foreign city to Weis. He's been here a couple of times for coaching purposes. In 1997, Weis was part of Bill Parcells's New England Patriots staff that lost to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers 35-21 in Super Bowl 31.

He would get redemption for the loss a few years later. Weis was the offensive coordinator for the Patriots in Super Bowl 36. The defending champions, St. Louis, brought the "Greatest Show on Turf" to the Louisiana Superdome for a chance at a repeat. Despite being 14-point underdogs, New England stunned the Rams 20-17 on Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal as time expired. No one gave the Patriots a chance to win the contest. Weis has tried to correlate that experience to this year's Sugar Bowl.

"I've talked a little bit (with the Notre Dame players) about the analogy with the Rams game," Weis said. "We were a two touchdown underdog. No one thought you had a chance. They are the "Greatest Show on Turf." They're fast. We're slow. We've talked about that some but we haven't harped on it."

*The Louisiana Superdome is expected to be majority purple and yellow on Wednesday night. LSU's campus is in Baton Rogue, just over an hour away from New Orleans. There's no questioning that'll be a loud Tiger crowd. Weis is hoping for his team's performance to keep the rowdy LSU fans silent.

"They can be real loud for the entire game or real quiet," Weis said. "It all depends on how the game goes. I do know that when the game starts, it'll be real loud. I'm hoping that it doesn't last for 60 minutes."

*LSU head coach Les Miles on always hearing that his Tiger team has tons of talent: "The only thing I can tell you is this: I like to be a talented team. I certainly think that talent is a piece of the puzzle but I don't think a team wins a game with just talent. I don't get weary of it but if they start telling me, ‘Boy that team is not very talented,' I'll be concerned."

*Another press conference, another question on the New York Giants. Weis, who has repeatedly said he's staying at Notre Dame until his son, Charlie, Jr., graduates from the university, had this to say on Wednesday:

"I can only say it so many times. The best part of this, whether it's the Giants or any other team, is that every coach is perceived to be a liar. Every coach is perceived to be a liar. ‘Well, Weis is just saying it but he doesn't believe it because he's a liar.' I'm just using me as an example. Believe it or not, there are some people who aren't liars. I've already told people where my life is headed. And my life is headed towards staying at Notre Dame until Charlie graduates from Notre Dame. And Charlie is in eighth grade. When he finishes, hopefully I have enough money so I can sit on a beach and drink pina coladas."


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