Frank Commentary

As the Irish were halfway through their latest beating at the hands of USC, I was left wondering what might be? Can the Irish be fixed under the current leadership, or is it time to move on?

Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick wasn't offering too much insight into his thought process after Saturday's game, but he did say that he would not meet with current Irish head coach Charlie Weis until probably a week from Monday, or December 8 for those keeping score.

So the Irish and ND fans are left to wonder the fate of Weis and his staff, and so are some very talented recruits that are currently committed to join the Irish in 2009.

That's probably not what anyone wanted to hear, including Weis.

That certainly won't be a good situation for Notre Dame and these top recruits, three of which are set to enroll at Notre Dame in a little more than a month.

And maybe the reason Swarbrick is waiting this long is because he truly doesn't know what to do with Weis. A strong case can be made for either side of the equation.

Watching Notre Dame, it's clearly obvious that the Irish offense has an offensive line problem. Fix the offensive line and are we even having this discussion? With a solid offensive line the Irish would likely sit at 9-3 at this point at worst. That's just the reality of the situation.

Notre Dame cannot run the ball, nor can they pass protect well. James Aldridge, Robert Hughes and Armando Allen have all proven that if you give them a running lane, they'll make good things happen.

Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen has proven that if you give him time in the pocket he'll make good decisions and throw the ball accurately and make big plays.

Irish receivers Michael Floyd, Golden Tate, Duval Kamara and tight end Kyle Rudolph have all shown the ability to make plays and big plays at that.

So this is an offensive line issue…..it's fundamentals, it's techniques, and it's attitudes. Fix this problem and the Irish are what everyone thought they would be at this point—a budding offense with a very bright future.

The Irish defense has played solid all year. They're not pretty. They give up yards and points, but they've shown up to play in every single game this year. They play gritty. They play hard. They play with emotion. They usually play fundamentally sound football.

In fact, I actually think the defense has played much better than I expected them to this year, and that's a credit to defensive coordinator Corwin Brown and his defensive staff.

We've seen improvement in special teams play, and nobody can argue with the success that Weis has had and is still currently having on the recruiting trail.

When you add all of this up, I come to one conclusion: The Irish are very close to being a good football team.

The next question: Can Weis take them the rest of the way?

I don't know the answer to that question. I used to firmly believe he could. I still believe he can, but a lot of changes need to be made….changes on his staff, but also some changes he'll need to make as well.

As I sat there shaking my head at halftime I see Weis walking off the field speaking to a reporter and basically telling her the halftime adjustments they plan to make. Why not just signal the plays over to the opposition? Yes, these were changes I'm sure Pete Carroll and the USC defensive staff strongly anticipated, but why tell them?

That has been one of the problems with Weis…..he talks……too much. I'm sure he realizes that now, but it may be too little too late.

It's a nit to pick, and probably not nearly damning as gaining zero first downs in three quarters against your rival.

So here we sit waiting………waiting……..waiting. It's a big decision for Swarbrick to make. It's has to be a tough one as well. Nobody can argue that Weis has shown he can produce an explosive offense with good offensive line play. Nobody can argue that the defense appears to be heading in the right direction. There's no question that Weis can recruit. Do you throw this all away because the offensive line can't block?

The bottom line is 6-6 isn't good enough. Weis has had four years to teach these players to block. Zero first downs in three quarters of football against your rival is embarrassing.

I don't know the answer. I wouldn't want to have to make the decision. All I do know is that Weis is very close to turning this thing around. I'm just not certain he can take them the rest of the way. I believe he can, but if you're Swarbrick, I think you'd want to be certain. There's too much at stake to be wrong, again.

Any good coach should be able to take this team the rest of the way, and that might be the most damning thing for Weis. Any good coach can now come in and have success. He's made this a much better and more attractive job, and that's a credit to him. It also may mean his demise.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories