Thanks for letting us noodle around over the last few days. There are so many great "what if" questions, and we could probably go on with the scenarios for years. But football intrudes; practice is nearly upon us, and it's time to get our heads out of the clouds and back to the business at hand.
Anyway, here's a whole bunch of "what ifs" we didn't get to, including a few that you guys suggested. Maybe someday we'll dust off a few of these and look at them in depth.
- What if Devon McDonald had just fallen on the ball?
- What if Pete Bercich makes the interception?
- What if Miami had made the 2-point conversion in '88?
- What if ND had fallen to #2 after the 10-10 tie with MSU?
- What if Jim Sanson made the extra point?
- What if Arnaz Battle slipped against MSU?
- What if Zbikowski's interception at the end of the '04 Pitt game was not negated by the holding call on Preston Jackson?
What if Charlie had been hired in '02 instead of Willingham? It's tantalizing to think of what Charlie might have done with Julius Jones, Carlyle Holiday, a line including Jeff Faine and other future pros, and a defense full of solid players. Immediate impact: no loss to BC in '02. Long term: right now we'd be going into year six of the Weis era instead of year three. Given Charlie's exemplary recruiting, this probably wouldn't be a rebuilding year for us -- we'd be in the mix for a(nother) title.
What if Rockne's plane didn't crash? He's already the greatest coach in the history of the sport; imagine Rock piling up another twenty years worth of games on the resume (he was only 45 when he died). Elmer Layden and Frank Leahy were nearly as great, so you could probably assign their records to Rockne to get an idea of what his career mark might have been. But would he have stayed at ND his entire career? Would the friction between him and various CSC presidents have finally worn thin? And if he had stayed, whither Frank Leahy?
- What if George O'Leary hadn't lied on his resume?
- What if Bob Davie had promoted Urban Meyer to OC rather than hiring Kevin Rogers?
- What if Ara had turned down the job?
- What if Jon Gruden had been hired in '02?
- What if Barry Alvarez succeeded Holtz?
What if Reggie Bush had picked ND? It was reportedly down to the Irish or the Trojans prior to the blowout in the Coliseum. Flipping him to ND probably doesn't put the Irish over the top...but would Southern Cal still have won their championship and a half without number 5?
- What if Ron Powlus hadn't broken his collarbone?
- What if Brady Quinn had committed to Michigan?
- What if Randy Moss (a) completed his application and (b) didn't put a kid in a coma?
What if ND had joined the Big 10 way back when? In 1926 Notre Dame lobbied for membership in the Western Conference (the precursor to the Big 10) and was rebuffed. This one's probably worth the full treatment someday, as the question is fraught with so many possibilities. It's not hard to imagine (as my friend Ken points out) that given the anti-ND bent of so many administrators in the Integer, everything would have been done to suppress our football prominence, and we may have ended up like Northwestern. Our coast-to-coast appeal would have been nipped in the bud, our barnstorming curtailed, and as a result we probably wouldn't be the national program we are today. (On the bright side, our graduate programs probably would have been a little better a little earlier.)
- What if ND had accepted Bowl bids from 1926 to 1969?
- What if ND hadn't signed the NBC deal?
- What if ND had joined the Big East for football, too?
- What if ND had decided to hire Rey Meyer as head coaching job and offered a scholarship to George Mikan rather than turn them both down?
- What if Adrian Dantley had returned for his senior year?
- What if Danny Ainge had not gone coast-to-coast?
- What if Laphonso Ellis and Monty Williams had been eligible their entire careers?