As the minutes ticked away on Saturday's embarrassing loss I kept thinking to myself, "I don't want to watch this. I don't want to sit here and watch this." But I did stick around, and I was glad I did. I did see a few players who wanted to play on Saturday, Irish players proud and honored to wear the Blue and Gold. I saw glimpses of why I became an Irish fan—guys giving it their all no matter what the score—something I seem to see less and less of these days.
I also saw a lot of players quit.
I guess I just don't understand how players quit. Like anyone, teams have those days.....days where nothing goes right and every turn is another obstacle, and I'm sure some teams do throw in the towel and quit.
But this was Michigan, and I can't imagine Irish players quitting against Michigan, but some did.
Funnily, the same thing happened just a few years earlier, the same place, the same score, and I was there, and I was never more down on ND football. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised.
Quitting is usually a sign of a lack of leadership. This is where leadership should step in….players and coaches that won't allow people to quit. I see zero leadership on this team.
And maybe quitting happens more often because there's no price to pay for throwing in the towel and mailing in the second half. Maybe losing is becoming acceptable. I know I expect it, and expect to see a lot more of it in the future—I'm just being honest.
It seems our whole society is built upon escapism. I hate to use the term, but back in my day there was no Ipod. There was no DVD. There were no game boys or all these entertainment devices designed to take us away from our thoughts. Nope, we rode home on the bus in dead silence, engrossed in our thoughts. Maybe the Irish need to do some soul-searching of their own.
Irish head coach Charlie Weis said something after Saturday's game that caught me by surprise.
"I was looking at their eyes to see if they threw in the towel or not," Weis said. "That's exactly what I was doing with everyone that came by, that included the coaching staff, too. I wanted to make sure I looked at everyone. I wanted to see who's eyes were up, who's eyes were down. I wasn't sending a message I was just observing."
While I think that's definitely the right thing to do, I'm surprised Weis would think his team would quit on him. If he expects that to happen, what does that say about this team?
So it's back to the basics now…..
We just call for the mulligan and we start over.
"Right now, you have to establish a work ethic, and you have to come out swinging," Weis said about his new approach this week. "That's what I'm going to do, figuratively because I don't play, and I'm going to find enough guys that want to come out swinging with me."
Exactly what should happen in my estimation, but this only works if Weis is willing to do it. Talk is cheap at this point, and the only thing that will matter is action. Will he sit a fifth-year senior who is going through the motions and play a guy who isn't as good, as physically ready, and has little experience? He has to at this point, in my opinion, but will he?
"I've not been able to create a small niche that is a staple or foundation for us to grow from," Weis said. "That's what I've not accomplished at this point, three games into the season. And you would like to think that three games into the season, there is some things you're starting to do better and better and that's not happened."
Actually, you'd hope you could start the season with one thing you can do well, but Weis is correct, three games into this season and I can't find a single thing the Irish do well on offense.
"Really it doesn't make a difference who were playing until we start getting good at something," Weis added. "Right now we're grab-bagging, and we're not really getting good at something. We have to have a staple. We have to have something to start from. That has to be our approach."
Maybe that should've been the approach from the very beginning instead of trying to design a completely different offense for a different type of quarterback.
But, we'll forget all of that and we're calling for the mulligan. OK, I'm on board.
So, if we call for the mulligan, it's now time to build for the future. I'm willing to sacrifice wins for the future. I'm sure a lot of Irish fans are with me.
If I'm going to take it on the chin as a fan, I expect to see improvement. I expect to see some enthusiasm. I expect to see things being built for the future. I'll allow this mulligan, and I won't quit on the Irish, but I expect to see some results, and quickly.
Note: I know Weis is looking for guys who will come out swinging with him. I'd start with Pat Kuntz, James Aldridge and Thomas Bemenderfer.
Can We Get a Mulligan?
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