Babb's Bits: Was Weis Serious Or Joking?

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis raised some eyebrows at Fiesta Bowl media day when he made comments comparing his Super Bowl ring to the national championship rings won by OSU coach Jim Tressel.

Much has been made of the comments of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis at the Fiesta Bowl media day.

The Columbus Dispatch reported, "when asked which was more impressive, Weis' four Super Bowl rings or Jim Tressel's five national championship rings, the Irish coach raised his hand, motioned to the Super Bowl ring on his finger and said, "This one is bigger than all five of his put together."

There seem to be two possible explanations to this quote:

* Weis was referring to both the size and monetary value of the ring. Given the size of his paws in comparison to Tressel's that one ring is probably at least as large as two of Tressel's title rings put together. Further, the NFL spends on obscene amount on their championship rings to ensure it is among the most gaudy and tacky pieces of jewelry ever known to man. The sheer weight of that ring alone would be enough to anchor a hot air balloon.

* Weis' ego is completely out of control and illustrates a lack of respect for the accomplishments of everyone else and even the college game as a whole. To imply a single NFL championship gained as an assistant coach is better than winning five national championships as a head coach borders on lunacy. It is also tantamount to spitting in the eye of his current peers; if the NFL is the only place where they really play football then Weis should end his self-imposed stint in purgatory and get back to heaven as soon as possible. Why waste time amongst amateurs when greatness is calling?

I'm not certain which one of those two options this one is, but those who like Weis seem to be sticking with the former while those who don't are clutching to the former.

Ohio State Receivers vs. the Notre Dame Secondary

With much of the attention going to the Notre Dame receivers and the Ohio State secondary, it might be wise to take a gander at what will be occurring on the other units of these two teams.

For example, what will happen when the Ohio State wideouts take the field against the Irish secondary? This match up will play just as large a role in the game's outcome considering it is the big play that killed Notre Dame in both of their losses this season.

Buckeye star wideout Santonio Holmes believes the Irish defensive backs are than capable; "Just from watching the few games we did watch, those guys improved a lot. They gave up a lot passing yards early in the season but started turning it around with playing man to man defense. They feel very confident about their corners and the play of their safeties being able to come up and make tackles in the backfield to stop runs. They have been doing a great job."

In fact, he would go so far as to say that the strength of their defense might be the safeties and cornerbacks.

"I like their linebackers a lot," he said. "Those guys are quick, fast, and athletic – the way our guys are, but I think their secondary may be a little bit stronger."

The greatest danger for the Irish secondary will likely come when Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith starts creating. They've watched the Smith to Gonzalez pitch and catch against Michigan – more than once as a matter of fact.

"When it is a pass we have to stick on our guys, latch on, and cover whoever is around – just for that play alone," noted Zbikowski. "He is going to make something happen. It's surprising to watch him. He looks pass first and then if he has to run he runs contrary to what you hear a lot that he is a running quarterback. He looks to make plays downfield before he takes off running."

The sticking point of course is that this is easier said than done. If Smith is coming out of the backfield nearing the line of scrimmage the defensive backs will have to cheat unless they wish to see him running for a first down on a regular basis. Whether or not Smith can then find the open man will be the key.

Jim Tressel; Offensive Guru?

With all the talk of Weis' offensive genius, Troy Smith was asked what he thought of his own head coach's abilities. Does Jim Tressel get the credit he deserves for Ohio State's offensive resurgence? Has it gone unnoticed that over the past four seasons Smith has morphed from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback who is athletic?

"A lot of the time I wouldn't be where I am without his help, without some of the things he says or puts on the table for me as a quarterback. He has done a great job. Truthfully I don't think he gets credit offensively because guys don't have the stats and glamour. But we win. We put it together and at the end of the day that's what matters – the ‘W'."

What's his ultimate explanation for the explosion down the stretch?

"It was a process. The more and more we got into situations where times were rough and times were tough, and guys came through – the more and more everybody came together as a whole. I wouldn't say it came together as myself but everybody."

Again, he credits the coaching staff with putting the players into situations where they could succeed as they learned they could trust their players; "I just think the more comfortable anybody feels with another person in a relationship the more things you can do. That's not just with football. (It's) with anything. If you have a kid, the more you trust your kid the more leeway you give them. That's the same way I think it is in football and with football with your quarterback. The more and more you feel comfortable the more you will insert him in the offense."

Notre Dame's defensive end Victor Abiamiri has more than a healthy respect for the Buckeyes when they have the football; "They are so multidimensional it is kind of hard to limit their offense to one style of play. Smith is an athletic quarterback similar to Michael Vick or Aaron Brooks. He can beat you with his arm and legs."

Asked the secret to stopping Ohio State he reiterated, "I've been saying it a bunch of times. You can't just say one thing (will stop their offense). If you put all your eggs in one basket they will beat you in a completely different way. I think the thing about Ohio State is they can run the football, they can throw the football. They have playmakers all across the field. You can't limit yourself to stopping one person or one thing."

Safety Tom Zbikowski backed up his teammate in describing the difficulties they face Monday evening.

"It's tough because they can pretty much do anything," he said. "Against Michigan they came out with nobody in the backfield, completely spread out, and that worked for them. They can put two people in the backfield and run power and that works for them. They can do option and that works for them. They can do option pass and roll out. They can pretty much do anything."

They can pretty much do anything? Option? Rushing? Passing? Short routes, deep routes, and everything in between? A quarterback who is athletic but has learned to pass first and run second?

Are you sure this is the Ohio State offense?

Put bluntly -- fans, media, and alumni scorched Tressel for the last several years for what they perceived to be a weak offensive philosophy. They called his offensive playbook simplistic and screamed for an offensive coordinator. It is looking more and more like this was as much about player execution than anything else, and it may just be time to give the Buckeye coaches a little credit. Notre Dame doesn't seem to think this is a predictable offense and neither do the Buckeye players.

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