Friday, November 04, 2005

Sticking the Flag on Rocky Top | by Pete

Well, I think I’ve sufficiently recovered from the USC game. It wasn’t easy, it took some time, but I’m ready to move on with Notre Dame football. I think we can all look at the BYU game as a hangover that a bottle of tequila can’t compete with. However, with the bye week, it’s time for a fresh outlook towards Notre Dame football, and working towards getting a BCS bid for the first time in school history. Yes, I realize we were listed as BCS participants in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon State, but I refuse to acknowledge that game, because apparently the coaching staff didn’t realize we were playing in it.

With that said, the feeling on campus towards this Tennessee game is calm now, but I think, with the campus winding up for another football weekend, it’s ready to build to a pretty good pitch. I like to think that the Notre Dame student body is one of the more football-aware student bodies in the country (despite The Wave and whatnot, I blame those on SMC chicks), and the implications of this game are apparent. Win, and we seem to coast to a BCS bid, national TV exposure on New Year’s Day, and a good match-up against a marquee opponent. Lose, we fall to 5-3, and the Notre Dame administration decides to burn a cross on South Quad.

TIRADE TANGENT: Of course, we’ve all read Jason Whitlock’s piece of schlock declaring that the contract extension for Charlie Weis was racist, since he earned it with a worse record than Tyrone Willingham. I’m not going to comment on that piece of tripe, because it’s been done to death. However, what I have a greater problem with is the fact that no major media members are really willing to jump all over Whitlock for such irresponsible journalism. Of course Notre Dame isn’t racist, they hired the guy. It wasn’t like when you have a friend that nobody likes, and he hops in your car when you’re headed somewhere, and then you spend the rest of the night trying to lose him amongst the crowd. It’s not like that, we plucked him out, gave him national exposure, paid him millions of dollars, and he repaid us by losing to USC by 31 points three times in a row, recruiting in between the front and back nine, and refusing to change a coaching staff that took it’s playbook from Tecmo Bowl. I would certainly hope that sane members of the media would realize that fact, but nobody will call him on it. If I wrote a nationally published piece stating that Jerry Jones is racist because he insists on wearing white jerseys at home, I’d be declared a loon, and rightfully so. But everybody seems content to say, “The main reason for the extension was NFL interests, recruiting, etc., so we can overlook the racial aspects of this decision.” Excuse me, plain and simple, flat out, RACE had nothing to do with this decision. Debate all you want whether the decision was timely, excessive, all that stuff, but do not cry racism just to get your name in the papers. Whitlock should be ashamed of himself, but the rest of the media should be extra ashamed for allowing this absurdity to go unchecked. *huff* *huff*

One last thing, just imagine in your heads if Charlie Weis made the statements that Fisher DeBerry and Joe Paterno have recently made. I believe that Alan Grant would spurt blood from his eyes, and Jason Whitlock would bury himself inside a Hostess plant and refuse to come out. Imagine that scenario and the ensuing reaction, and then decide if the media fairly treats Notre Dame.

OK, back to the Tennessee game. This may be the most feared 3-4 team in college football history. They’ve beaten some good teams (LSU), but they’ve lost quite a few as well. But there’s a reason these guys were ranked #3 in the preseason, they’re capable of doing some very good things. On a national scale, when everybody has counted them out and the team appears in disarray, this would be the perfect time to show the world what UT can do by going out and beating Notre Dame on their own field. You couldn’t write a better build-up for the upset.

However, it won’t happen. Charlie can see the potential for the upset, and I’m sure he’s made it clear to the team that this is not just another game. I’m willing to go so far and say that this game is the biggest game of Charlie Weis’s Notre Dame tenure thus far. The Michigan game, nobody excepted us to win, the USC game, if we won, that was purely bonus. This game features a team that we should beat based on their season’s performance, but they have all the weapons to beat us. It’s up to Charlie to prepare the team mentally, and coach the team well enough to beat these guys. If he can do that, he’s ushered Notre Dame back into the era of beating teams when we should, while occasionally beating teams when we shouldn’t. And isn’t that where we all want him to be?

Everyone on campus is acting confident for this game, but we realize the weight. However, the mere fact that that confidence exists is huge for the program. No longer are we knocking our knees together in fear of Purdue or Boston College, but we expect to beat teams, no matter how talented they are. I anticipate this game to be closer than many we’ve had this year, but in the end, I think a solid victory by Notre Dame will be the result. Tennessee has just had too much going on to not make a few too many mistakes on Saturday. I expect this game to begin a real bang-up end of the season for Notre Dame, with a major head of steam going into a bowl game. This is game where we punch our BCS ticket, and if we win this game, we’re worth the hype.

I think we’re worth the hype. Charlie, enjoy your new contract, you’ve earned it. Go buy a hot tub or something.