Monday, January 09, 2006

Things that make you go hmmmmm

Program A

Unranked - W
Unranked - W
#9 in final poll - W
Unranked - W
Unranked - W
#19 in final poll - W
Unranked - W
#21 in final poll - W
Unranked - L
Unranked - W
Unranked - W
#4 in final poll - L
#12 in final poll - L

This team finished 10-3 on the season, ranked #17 in the final poll, and had a 3-2 record against teams that finished in the top 25. All in all a pretty good season. Let's compare that resume to program B:

Unranked - W
Unranked - W
Unranked - L
Unranked - W
Unranked - W
#2 in final poll - L
Unranked - W
Unranked - W
Unranked - W
Unranked - W
Unranked - W
#4 in final poll - L

Program B finished 9-3, ranked #9 in the final poll, and with an 0-2 record against teams that finished the season in the top 25. But were they really better then Program A? What if I told you that the opponents of Program A finished 94-73 on the season and opponents of Program B finished 71-67 on the season? Would you agree that Program A probably played a tougher schedule? Would you agree that Program A had better victories against better opponents?

Now who the hell am I actually talking about as I try to make this point? How's about 2002 Notre Dame under Ty Willingham and 2005 Notre Dame under Charlie Weis. Seems to me we are hearing a lot of the same smoke and mirrors about a return to glory by Notre Dame right now. Charlie Weis is being portrayed as an even bigger savior then Ty was. And Notre Dame fans will tell you that Ty just got celebrity treatment because the media loved him and he was a high profile minority coach at a big name job who everybody wanted to succeed, etc.

Well, did anybody stop to realize that Ty Willingham had a better debut than Charlie Weis as Notre Dame coach?????????



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets get off this subject, its getting really old. With that in every game this year, Charlie Weis has made ND competive and within reach of winning every game (Yes, we got beat by Ohio State and they were the better team but the last 5 minutes ND was down one TD). In Ty's 1st year, we got blown out by USC and NC State. Plus, every year Ty coached at ND we got blown out a lot (anytime we were behind it was pretty much over and I don't think anyone can disagree with that). Look at the whole picture, Ty won a lot in his 1st year because he was dam lucky to get so many turnovers and to have a steller defense. Charlie won because he coached up all his players (how many times before Charlie got in there that people thought Brady Quinn was a bust or Stovall was a bust). Plus, the party line has changed with Charlie for the better. You don't see Charlie complaining about academics or the schedule. As Charlie has said they schedule them and we play them (NFL mentality). Charlie also made the point that a win is a win and a loss is a loss thats it. You didn't and don't hear Charlie complaining about the loss to USC (Charlie said that was a heads up play by Bush and that if he coached a running back he would hope that the running back would do the same thing). A big difference with Charlie at the helm.

Wed Jan 11, 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with the above poster. Statistics tell one side of the story, but not the whole story. The intensity that Notre Dame played with brought back memories of the Lou Holtz era, and there was no "quit" in this team. We played terribly and deserved to lose against OSU, but looking back at the regular season, we were a hair's breadth from ending the season unbeaten and playing Texas for the National Championship. Tyrone Willingham was a classy coach, to be sure, and I wouldn't degrade a single thing he did as coach, but Charlie Weis brought back confidence to a team that was sorely lacking it.

Wed Jan 11, 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the stats you list are misleading. Looking at the whole top 25, 3-2 looks better than 0-2. But the 0-2 wasn't against the top 25, it was against the top 4! The loss to #2 clearly could have gone the other way on a whisper. As stated above, many of the wins in 2002 'felt' lucky, due to turnovers, etc. The wins in 2005 felt solid. Wait until Weiss shores up this defense a bit, then we'll talk. Make a note on your calendar to re-visit this issue at the end of 2007, that will be a fair Weiss - Willingham comparison.

Wed Jan 11, 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was definitely a better season than '02. The fight and spirit Weis brought back to ND was unbelievable. To turn the program around, almost beat USC and finish in the top 10 is amazing - no one predicted that (the Irish were unranked at the beginning of the season). Now Weis hits the recruiting trail with 4 super bowl rings, the leading Heisman candidate and more excitement behind the program than there has been since about 1992. The Irish are back and will be a huge force under Weis. That wasn't happening with Ty.

NB: I think the only fair way to compare schedules is to look at the ranking of the team you played when you played them. Michigan was #3 when the Irish went into the Big House. Their season fell apart partially because of that upset. MSU was pretty damn hot when they came into the Bend as well. The Irish were competitive every week against a good selection of teams with very few patsies. They will be better next year and continue to improve. Respect.

Wed Jan 11, 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous JerryBGoode said...

So here we go least your post verified the "I don't know much about anything" part of the blog's "About me" statement.

Let's take a closer look at the 2002 Irish and the 2005 Irish:

In 2002, Willingham inherited a team that in 2001 had had an anemic offense and good (ranked fairly high statistically) defense. The offensive line and backfield was largely intact and senior-laden, as was the defense. The 2002 Irish under Ty had an anemic but slightly better (24 more yards per game, and 3 more points/game) offense and a defense that performed about the same (allowed 4 less yards per game, and the same number of points/game) as in 2001, though they were much better at creating turnovers and scores off those turnovers -- the Irish scored about half their points returning fumbles or interceptions, or from the great field position gained from those turnovers. What they seemed to have going for them was a renewed fighting spirit, a lot of perceived good "karma" (for lack of a better word) for having hired an African-American coach, and, it must be admitted, a little luck. However, no one was complimenting Ty's game planning or adjustment-making or anything specific, just that he was "doing a great job". Even at 8-0, ESPN analysts were calling ND "the worst 8-0 team in recent memory". Other than the record, the 2001 and 2002 statistics are extremely similar.... Even the Sporting News, which named Ty Sportsman of the Year in 2002 following ND's 10-3 season, didn't seem too taken by him as a coach. In their college football preview the following August, they ranked the top 5 college football coaches in a number of different categories: preparing a team, play calling, etc. Of the 8 categories, Ty ranked in the top 5 of only one category, "motivation".

Comparatively, Weis took over a team with an anemic offense (81st in country) and a defense that was returning only 2 starters from a unit that was terrific against the run in 2004, but 2nd-worst in the nation against the pass ("Great," ND nation thought, "we couldn't stop the pass in 2004, and in 2005, we're starting the guys who couldn't beat out the 2004 guys for playing time. Yikes.") Weis transformed the offense into one of the most hard-to-stop units in the country, finishing ranked in the Top 10 in the country in total offense, gaining almost 150 more yards/game and scoring 14 more points/game. The defense, with nine new starters, was statistically slightly worse than 2004, allowing only a couple more points per game, but giving up in the neighborhood of 65 more yards/game (in fairness, it must be noted that the Irish D gave up 64 points and a decent chunk of yardage after being up by 3+ touchdowns – against Pitt, Wash., Purdue, Navy, and Syracuse – a position the 2004 team never found itself in). Weis has been praised from all corners (even those with absolutely no love for ND) on his game-planning, in-game adjustments, and play-calling, things I never heard about Willingham at any time from any (pro-ND, anti-ND, or neutral) source during his tenure, even during his 8-0 start.

Now let's some comparisons of the games from the 2002 and 2005 seasons:

Common Opponents:

2002: #4 USC 44, ND 13 (ND manages just over 100 yards of offense. A truly pathetic performance)
2005: #2 USC 34, ND 31 (A terrific game decided on the final play)
Advantage: 2005, HUGE

2002: ND 25, #9 Michigan 23 (LLLoyd, as in 1998 and 2004, coughs up a hairball in South Bend)
2005: ND 17, UR Michigan 10 (Charlie beats UM in Ann Arbor, where Ty lost 38-0 in his only appearance)
Advantage: Michigan was better in 2002, but the Irish won in 2005 in Ann Arbor. I'll stack the deck in your favor and call this one a push.

2002: ND 24, UR Purdue 17 (Irish win at home despite not scoring an offensive TD)
2005: ND 49, UR Purdue 28 (Purdue was favored at home. Halftime score: ND 28, Purdue 0. Game over.)
Advantage: 2005

2002: ND 14, #19 Pitt 6 (Irish win at home despite horrific offensive showing. Scored late TD after recovering fumble at Pitt 15)
2005: ND 42, UR Pitt 21 (Irish dismantle favored Panthers at Pitt)
Advantage: Pitt was better in 2002, but ND destroyed Pitt at Pitt in 2005). This is a push.

2002: ND 30, UR Navy 23 (The Irish trail 23-15 with 4 minutes left. Navy won 2 games on the year. Game was in Balt., but ND fans outnumbered Navy's by about 8 to 1)
2005: ND 42, UR Navy 21 (Navy won a bowl game, but never seriously threatened ND)
Advantage: 2005

2002: ND 31, UR Stanford 7 (Stanford won only 2 games that year, but led ND 7-3 at half. Irish score 3 TDs off turnovers in 3rd to pull away)
2005: ND 38, UR Stanford 31 (Irish roll up over 600 yards of offense, but make 2 turnovers and miss 2 field goals. Stanford won 5 games on the season.)
Advantage: Push. Stanford was too awful in 2002 for that win to have any significance.

2002: ND 21, UR Air Force 14 (Bowl bound Mountain West team, overmatched but game, loses to Irish at AF)
2005: ND 49, UR BYU 23 (Bowl bound Mountain West team, overmatched but game, loses to Irish at ND)
Advantage: AF was a slightly better team, but the Irish won in 2005 by almost 4 TDs. Call it a push.

2002: ND 21, UR MSU 17 (Irish win on last-minute TD. MSU self-destructs in Oct-Nov)
2005: UR MSU 44, ND 41 (Irish lose in OT. MSU self-destructs in Oct-Nov)
Advantage: 2002

2002: ND 42, UR Rutgers 0 (Irish lead truly-awful Rutgers 14-0 at half)
2005: ND 34, UR Syracuse 10 (Irish lead truly-awful Syracuse 14-3 at half)
Advantage: Push

Other opponents:

2002: ND 34, #21 Florida State 24 (FSU lost 5 games on the year; This was Ty's 2002 signature win; Irish score 17 points in 3rd quarter without gaining a first down to break the game open)
2005: ND 41, UR Tennessee 21 (Vols lost 6 games on the year; Irish give the Vols their only lop-sided loss of season)
Advantage: 2002. Winning in Tallahassee was sweet.

2002: UR BC 14, ND 7 (Irish self-destruct at home; 4 turnovers, botched field goal, etc.)
2005: ND 36, UR Washington 17 (Irish lead 29-3 in 4th; lots of weird emotions surrounding this game)
Advantage: Push. The Irish played way too poorly in the 2002 BC game for advantage to go to 2002, even though the competition was way better.

Bowl Game:
2002: #12 NC State 28, ND 6 (Game over at halftime, 21-3; Irish offense again terrible - didn't score an offensive TD in either of last 2 games)
2005: #4 Ohio State 34, ND 20 (Despite being outplayed and looking woeful on D, the Irish come within one 3rd down stop of getting the ball back with 2 miutes left to tie the game)
Advantage: 2005

(Note: The 2002 Irish played an extra game, the Kickoff Classic, beating UR Maryland 22-0 despite not scoring an offensive TD.)

So what's the final tally?

2005 4 (1 HUGE), 2002 2, 5 pushes.

2005: Wins by 19 or more: 7
Losses by 19 or more: 0
2002: Wins by 19 or more: 3
Losses by 19 or more: 2

Next time, please a) do some research, and b) don't filter out facts ( i.e. statistics, margin of victory, game comparisons ) that conflict with your thesis. It makes you look, at best, careless and at worst, like an idiot. Or like a U. of Michigan grad.

Wed Jan 11, 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous NDAlum91 said...

Gentlemen. Why take the bait? Being a Michigan fan is punishment in and of itself. Look at it this way... when a Michigan fan complains about another team's coach, we get a chance to see the intense insecurity that he has about the Michigan program and about Lloyd Carr. Carr is the master at being the bridesmaid but never the bride. Great programs are able to have years in which they far exceed the talents of their opponents. Good programs are those that have 9-3 records every year.

If this guy is honest with himself, he would choose Weis over Carr as the Michigan coach any day.

Wed Jan 11, 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone's so down on Notre Dame because their schedule was apparently so easy. That's in no way their fault. Before the season if you would have looked at their schedule you have have went whoaa!! Pitt was supposed to be awesome. Michigan is always good. Michigan State was like #9. Tennessee is always good. USC, no comment. Purdue was supposed to be awesome. Ohio State is #4. That's pretty gutzy scheduling if you ask me. They were as many as 7 games on the schedule that they probably were even if not underdogs before the season. It's not their fault these teams fell apart. Next year they add Penn State and UCLA, so people better not complain next year.

Wed Jan 11, 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Notre Dame has not won a bowl game in recent memory, including those 2 losses to powerhouse Oregon St. A rich history means nothing in today's college football world.

It is not a coincidence that Notre Dame finally became BCS eligible after dropping Boston College from their schedule. After 4 straight losses, an embarrassed and shell-shocked ND Athletic Department decided that they should ease up their schedule by eliminating their only major Catholic rival in favor of 1 more win on the season. This is a blatant case of a school losing its morals on the inside but putting on the face of class on the outside. Notre Dame doesn't have to share revenue with any other school so a loss to BC could mean millions to them.

What kind of message does that send to America when a school prides itself on class and morality but turns around and drops a school they haven't beaten in half a decade in favor of cold hard cash?

Thu Jan 12, 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't be mad you were rejected from Notre Dame, a lot of us had BC as our second choice too...

Thu Jan 12, 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom O'Brien will be fired after we win by 50 in 2007. Stop trashing our locker rooms and running a classless program and maybe we'll allow you the privelage to play us again.

Thu Jan 12, 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boston College was dropped as a Notre Dame opponent because the Irish have made a committment to the Big East to play teams from that conference (see recent games against Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt, West Virginia, and until recently BC), as said in the ND press conference right after the change was made.

When BC left the Big East to greener pastures in the ACC (although the Bowl game wasn't even played on green anything, but I digress) the Irish in order to open up schedule room for future Big East opponents, felt the need to drop some future BC games.

If dropping teams due to losing was the modus operandi of the Irish wouldn't they have dropped Michigan State about 4 years ago. The record vs. MSU is full of early season let down games (2005, 2003, Bob Davie's entire career), yet the Irish will play them every year in the future because of a long standing commitment to the Spartans.

BC may very well be a good opponent for the Irish, but they are by no means traditional when compared to Michigan, MSU, Purdue, USC, Navy, Pitt, and even Stanford. Notre Dame felt the need to keep commitments it already had to traditional teams and to the Big East in general.

Stating that they were running from a fight is short-sighted. Let's see who ND schedules in BC's place: probably someone like WVU, or Louisville. Then let's see who BC schedules: hopefully some decent opponents, but I get the sinking feeling that we'll see a UMASS-BC score trail across the bottom of a real college football game in the near future.

And in response to an apparent Irish lack of class; just by making that comment means that you have not been paying any attention to Coach Weis' team this year (saluting visiting Navy, congratulating USC after their win in South Bend, the pass right for a deceased 10 year-old Irish fan).

If you want to see class in college football, come visit South Bend on a game day, not as a visiting opponent fan where you mind is likely to be clouded by emotions and beer surrounding the game, but come as neutral fan to a game in which you have not vested interest, then you can tell us all about class.

Thu Jan 12, 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The post preceding mine was done with such class that I am amazed. The writer stuck to the facts and avoided emotion. I am much more burdened by emotion. A fan of BC has no right to say anything bad about Notre Dame, when they are traitors to the Big East conference specifically and the Northeast region in general by joining the ACC. I hope that BC wallows in the ACC basement forever. (Such a shame for BC students of smaller sports who now have a ridiculous travel schedule just to participate for their school. BC Athletics Department must have been on a bender with Ted Kennedy!)

Thu Jan 12, 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I can remember the excitement in 2002 when Ty brought the program back. People were this excited. Ty was really respected for what he had done at Stanford...

So I actually appreciate this post. I think a lot of people get caught up in the emotion of the moment. Sure Charlie's team was more competitive in a lot of games this year, but I attribute that to enthusiasm on his part and his players.

Plus the schedule turned out easieer. And playing USC at home with an extra two weeks (to grow the grass) really helped us. I remember thinking Ty had a hard time against USC because they knew how he coached.

Anyway, in my book, Charlie is looking good, but he hasn't convinced me of much (and that includes whether he is better than Ty).

This next year will be a test.

Fri Jan 13, 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I'll let Skip Bayless from ESPN speak for me. Check out his article. Another reason I like Weis is because he gets Notre Dame. This post explains why. Go Irish!

- Tom

Sat Jan 14, 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

Here's the funny thing. I like Weis. I think he's a good guy. But I am just dying of laughter at all the Notre Dame fans who seem to have the shortest memory on the face of the planet.

There has been nothing said about Charlie Weis that was not said about Ty Willingham after his first year. The love-fest is identical to what happened 3 years ago. Anybody blind to that is just admitting their own stupidity. Didn't a wise man once have something to say about those that forgot history....

Sat Jan 14, 08:18:00 PM  

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