On November 24, 2004, Notre Dame was coming off a 41-38 loss to Pittsburgh in which Tyler Palko threw for an opponent-record five touchdowns. The loss was Notre Dame’s fourth of the season, and on November 24th the Irish were a mere three days away from the previous staff’s annual 31-point drubbing at the hands of the hated Trojans. It was not a pleasant time to be an Irish fan.
Today, November 24, 2005, the Irish stand two days away from locking up a Fiesta Bowl berth with a win over former aspirational peer Stanford. A sea change has occurred at Notre Dame, and for that Irish fans have many reasons to be thankful. There are also several people that deserve the thanks of Irish fans. Today seems like an appropriate time to recognize the efforts of those who have contributed to Notre Dame’s current direction.
Thanks to Rev. John I. Jenkins, John Affleck-Graves, Philip Purcell, and Patrick F. McCartan. Last year, these men had the courage to take the necessary action in the face of the inevitable tidal wave of media criticism. Notre Dame has an obligation to the student-athletes who work so hard on the field and in the classroom to provide them with elite coaching. Because these university leaders recognized that this duty outweighed the attacks of petty media talking heads, Irish fans have the opportunity to celebrate something of consequence this Saturday night.
Thanks to Coach Weis and his staff. Even the casual observer must realize how relentless these men have been in the film room and on the recruiting trail. Weis has impressed with his innovative play-calling on the field and his integrity off the field. In addition to baffling defensive coordinators, Weis has kept his promise to Montana Mazurkiewicz, visited the SC locker room following a crushing loss, and brought his team to salute the Midshipmen during their alma mater. While Weis’s staff has been less visible than the head man, we can be sure they have been working just as hard as Coach Weis. Weis has commented on how hard he was driven by Bill Parcells. It seems certain that Weis is just as demanding of his assistants. Their efforts are easy to notice on the recruiting trail, where the only remaining drama is which highly-touted recruits will secure one of the few remaining spots in this year’s class.
Thanks to all the members of the football team. Without their hard work and resilience, this fall would not have been so enjoyable for Notre Dame fans. In particular, thanks to the seniors. This class endured three separate coaching regimes prior to Weis’s arrival. However, rather than packing it in when handed a new coach for their final year, this class provided vital leadership. Previously maligned Irish such as Maurice Stovall and Mark LeVoir have had outstanding years. Corey Mays patiently waited his turn, then seized the opportunity when it finally presented itself. Brandon Hoyte has been a rock for the defense. The freshmen class also deserves special recognition. At a time when ND was getting absolutely hammered in the media, these men stayed true to their commitments. Their resolve has been rewarded with the opportunity to contribute immediately. Eleven of the fifteen members of the freshmen class have seen playing time this year.
Jay: I didn't spend 4 years
as an Evil Communications
major for nothing!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.