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The Search for TomorrowPosted Tuesday, December 1, 2009, at 10:20 AM
In recent weeks, several "pundits" and "critics" have discussed the current Notre Dame football coaching opening.
For weeks now, speculation circled above South Bend that the school would fire Charlie Weis, who was hired five years ago to bring the program back to prominence.
After five seasons, Weis -- a Notre Dame alum -- leaves the university with a record of 35-27. For those of you keeping score, that is a winning percentage of .565.
The 35 wins in five seasons equates to an average of seven wins per season. Many football programs across the nation would love to see that annually.
But for a school with such a football tradition, it is simply not acceptable.
The school fired Weis Monday. five years ago when he was hired, he said he would be able to outscheme coaches and bring the school back to its glory days.
It never happened.
And, unfortunately, Weis is a victim of his own words.
The coaches at Notre Dame prior to Weis had similar winning percentages.
Take Ty Willingham for example. In his three years, he was 21-15 (.583 winning percentage).
And Bob Davie, the man who replaced Lou Holtz, was 35-25 (.583 winning percentage).
When Davie was coaching the Fighting Irish, they advanced to three bowls, winning none.
In contrast, Willingham took Notre Dame to one bowl game, coming away with another loss.
In Weis' five seasons, the Irish have been to three bowls, winning just one.
Since 1996, the year Holtz left the program, the Irish are 1-7 in bowl games, with their only win coming in 2008 against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.
Since 1925, Notre Dame has played in 29 bowl games and sports a record of 14-15. Since the year I was born, the program has tallied three national championships.
How can a school boast such a rich tradition with only three national titles in 30-plus years?
Michigan owns 11 national titles, the last coming in 1997.
The Florida Gators have won just three national championships, but all have taken place since 1996.
To put it plain and simple, that rich tradition Irish fans have boasted about for years means absolutely nothing anymore.
Notre Dame -- for the moment -- can't compete with the current "big boys" of college football.
When Holtz left the program, he had tallied a record of 100-30-2 (.758 winning percentage). He also had the one national title in 1988.
However, the program has been on a downward spiral since. A rollercoaster ride to mediocrity.
The Irish hired Davie to replace Holtz and then hired George O'Leary to replace Davie in 2001. It turned out that O'Leary had "fudged" on his resume and the school then turned to Willingham, who was replaced in 2004 by Kent Baer and then Weis.
Holtz only coached Notre Dame for 11 seasons, but amassed 100 wins. Since 1996, the program has tallied just 91 wins (13 campaigns).
Some have said the school's tough academic standards keeps it from recruiting the best of the best.
I say kudos to Notre Dame for having such high academic standards. Annually, of the possible 30 seniors on a college football roster, very few of them have an opportunity to play football professionally, meaning they will have to use the degree they achieved.
Again, most college football programs would salivate at the opportunity to win an average of seven games per season. Typically, that means you're bowl-bound.
But in the case of Notre Dame, I think many can call this "unfair expectations."
Some players on the current Irish roster have already expressed their desire to see the school pick another "Notre Dame man."
Speculation has been rampant that the school is interested in bringing in Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, or Stanford's Jim Harbaugh and possibly TCU's Gary Patterson.
For now, though, the program is right back to where it started in 1996: Searching for another Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy or Ara Parseghian.
Or another Holtz.
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