Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown has delivered some of Notre Dame's best sound bites this year, but none were better than his 700-plus word response to a question about taking responsibility for his team's low tackle-for-loss totals.
The response was more of a soliloquy than a rant and had a number of themes: accountability, camaraderie, history, frustration, confidence and even a YouTube reference.
Here is Brown's uninterrupted answer:
"I always take responsibility for what our guys do. Always, always, always. As a player, the one thing that the guys that coached me always did was they always put us in position to make plays. If you put a guy in a position that's not a good position for him to be in, then at the end of the day that's the coach's fault. As coaches, you learn about your players. Now of course, sometimes it falls on the players. But in America, in our society, everybody always wants to put it off on the other guy. You don't get better that way. You don't learn anything about yourself, you don't learn anything about the guy you're working with, you don't learn anything about the people you're playing against because you're so busy trying to point the blame and put it off on somebody else.
"Whereas if everybody just says, ‘This is what I've got to do,' and ‘This is what I can do to get better' and all of a sudden it's a whole bunch of guys who are unselfish and they're saying, ‘This is what I can do.' And then when you put that together that's how you win. I've been on winning teams a lot, from high school, college to the pros. And I've been on a couple of losing teams and the common denominator on losing teams is everybody was always doing this (pointing fingers). Everybody was always selfish, everybody was always lazy, nobody wanted to work, nobody wanted to do extra work.
"The teams that won and I played against some pretty good teams and there was a whole bunch of them here (at Notre Dame). Every week you watched these guys play, every week you watched them play and they weren't selfish and they were good players and they cared about the guy that was next to them. And the coaches, they coached their butts off. And when you met them out on the road and you played with them down the road, without being here, you could tell how those guys were coached. Without being in games with them, you knew what their expectation level was, you just knew.
"Spending a year with Rod Smith, I learned more about Notre Dame football than watching them playing. Because I watched how he played, I watched the things he did; I knew what his expectations were. Was Rod Smith the greatest corner ever? Absolutely not, but sometimes when you take a certain guy and you put him in the right puzzle, it fits. And that's what we're trying to do here. We're trying to put the right puzzle, with the right guys, with the right coaches and once you work at that and everybody figures it out that's how you win. We've got a bunch of good pieces here. We're just putting it together, but it's here and the difference in this year and last year is last year we weren't in the games like we were. Everybody is talking about, ‘You're playing this competition level.' Nah. Because just about everybody we play we're in those games and we've got a chance to win those games and we expect to win them. It's a little thing here; it's a little thing there.
"Like I said, I've been around winning teams and I knew good people, good places so I know that. Do I know it all? Absolutely not, but I've been around enough people and I've studied enough good people to know what it takes for guys to win. I know we've got good players here and I know we've got good coaches and I know we're on the right track. Now, do we always do it? Absolutely not, but we are making progress. Now, what do I want to see? I want to see us going down to Boston College and kick their teeth in, that's what I want to see more than anything else. I'm sick of hearing about this, I'm sick of hearing about that and when I say, ‘I' I mean ‘We', our whole team is.
"I'm not even going to get on a rant-and-rave so it can be all over YouTube, but I will say this, we've got good kids here and we've got people and everybody wants to see us lose. So we get everybody's best shot and that's what we want at the end of the day because when we start giving people our best shot, we're going to be hard to deal with. That's it."
Brown then got up and walked out.
SMITH'S SORRY: Harrison Smith did his best to offer an explanation, but not an excuse, to his personal foul penalty on the first drive of the third quarter against Pittsburgh.
"I didn't realize the situation. I just shouldn't have done it," he said. "My emotions kind of got the best of me, which I normally try to keep in check."
What made it more difficult was watching the play again on tape with his teammates.
"I already knew it was a stupid, selfish play by me," he said. "Seeing it on film, it was like it was just happening again. It kind of makes me sick to my stomach, not so much for me, it hurt the team and put us in a difficult situation."
Brown said that the only thing Smith can do now is make sure he does not do it again.
"You hope that he learns from the mistake and you try to ask the player, ‘What were you thinking?' and ‘What were you doing?'" Brown said. "That may help the player, ‘What was I thinking?' Try to put him back in that moment so that if he ever gets in that moment again he'll make a better choice, a better decision."
Brown said that, at this point, the team is not good enough to be unaffected by personal fouls.
"Until we become a team where we just go out and beat everybody by 40, it'll put you in a tough situation," he said. "But that one play didn't do it. There was a number of plays in the game, that one just stuck out because of the timing."
IRISH ONLY WORRIED ABOUT BC: With Navy and Syracuse following Boston College on the schedule before Southern Cal, the game against the Eagles is one of the final opportunities for Notre Dame to earn some respect.
While the Irish acknowledge the point, they say they aren't taking this game any differently than the others.
"There's some truth to that," David Grimes said. "I mean, you do have to win the big games to earn the respect. But at the same time, I think there is respect to be earned in any opponent that you play against. So I mean, we're not taking any opponent lightly."
Brown said basically the same thing.
"I think that every time you step out in a competitive mode, which you only have so many games per year, you want to win. I don't care who it is. Because if you lose to the teams that quote, unquote ‘suck', you're going to feel crappy," he said. "If you lose to the teams that are quote, unquote ‘better teams', you're still going to feel crappy. So every time out you want to beat that other team. I don't care who there are, I don't care where you're playing them at, I don't care what the circumstances are, you want to win. I don't care if they're ranked first, I don't care if they're not even ranked."
After the loss to North Carolina, Charlie Weis said that he was happy that the team had a bye the following week, but feels that playing Boston College after the Pittsburgh loss will be a good thing.
"The bottom line is being close just isn't good enough," he said. "I'm almost happy that we're playing Boston College this week after last week's game, because it gives the team another opportunity…right off the bat, right after that four-overtime loss to go on the road and beat a good team."
Grimes said that the bye week after North Carolina just allowed the loss to stay with the team longer.
"I think having a bye week was probably even more difficult because it was two weeks until we played, until we can get that sour taste out of our mouths," he said. "But right now, we're looking forward to this game, and we don't have a bye week, and this feeling could potentially go away this Saturday."
Jimmy Clausen said, "We only had one day to sulk, which was Sunday, and after that it was get ready for Boston College."
"A loss is with you until you win your next game," Grimes said. "It's not like any other sport, especially basketball, where they play games all throughout the week and they can go play tomorrow and forget about the loss in two days or so. A loss in football stays with you throughout the week until you win again."
BROWN RESPECTS, DOESN'T FEAR BC OFFENSE: Brown does a good job of not giving his opponents more credit than they deserve without being disrespectful and his analysis of the Boston College offense was consistent with his breakdowns of previous offensive units.
"They've got a good system. They have a quarterback who makes good decisions, throws the ball around pretty well. He makes mistakes just like everybody else," Brown said. "He gets tackled, he gets pressured, he throws interceptions just like other people when you pressure them. They've got receivers that can make plays, they've got receivers that drop balls. They've got some running backs, they've got a pretty good line."
Brown is the kind of coach that would rather stick up for his players than give credit to the opposition.
"They're a good team, they're a well-coached team and they play hard," he said. "I would like to think that we're a good team also. I would like to think that we've got players too. So we'll see what happens when we get to Boston."
FLAME HAWK TO BE SHORT-LIVED: Pat Kuntz walked into the media session on Wednesday with the same variation of a mohawk that he sported against Pittsburgh.
"It's a little flame hawk," he said.
Wide receiver Rob Parris acts as Kuntz' personal stylist before each game.
"Robby Parris hooked me up with a fresh cut," Kuntz said. "He only did it in about 15 minutes, so props to him he's got a hairstyling future."
But the flame hawk will be gone by this weekend.
"It'll be new by Saturday," Kuntz said. "We'll see what he's got up his sleeve."
Kuntz laughed when he was asked if he had to stay on Parris' good side each week.
"Oh yeah, he could totally mess up my hair or something like that."