Friday, November 13, 2009

The Weis Mantra

Okay, I don’t want this to turn into the “,” blog but it is impossible not to comment on some of the bleatings coming out of Notre Dame in the wake of Navy’s win out there last Saturday.

It certainly doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that Charlie Weis would react to the loss the way he did—claiming he would take responsibility, then throwing everyone but Touchdown Jesus under any bus he could find.

Two years ago, when Navy finally broke its monumental 43 game losing streak against Notre Dame, Weis barely uttered one word of credit to the Navy kids, talking—as usual—about the mistakes his team had made because, as we all know, when Notre Dame wins it is because he coached good but when it loses it is because the players played bad.

That’s the Weis mantra.

After Navy won the game Saturday, Navy Coach Ken Niamatalolo made the point that he thought his team had done better offensively in 2009 than in 2008 because it had seen Notre Dame’s defensive schemes in the game in Baltimore a year earlier. Niamatalolo made a point of saying, “I hope this isn’t misconstrued,”—in other words, he was NOT criticizing Notre Dame’s coaches, he was just saying his team had been better prepared because it had seen the defense the year before.

In fact, when I spoke to Niamatalolo before the game he had made a similar point. “Last year I think we were a little too amped up,” he said. “We made some mistakes, didn’t carry out some assignments. I hope today, because the kids have seen what we did wrong on film, we’ll be a little better.”

They were a lot better. Let me add this: I’ve known a lot of people through a lot of years in sports. I haven’t met anyone who is a better person than Niamatalolo. He’s the anti-Weis: When Pete Medhurst, who does the sideline reporting on the Navy radio network asked him postgame what it meant to him to come into Notre Dame Stadium as the head coach and win his answer was direct: “This isn’t about me Pete, it’s about the kids. Talk about them.”

When Navy does lose, here’s Kenny’s first comment: “We got out-coached today.”

Like I said, the anti-Weis.

Niamatalolo and his coaches very clearly out-coached Weis and his coaches on Saturday. Buddy Green’s bend-but-don’t-break defense made key plays against an offense littered with first round draft picks, all day. The offense kept picking up yards when it had to—including two fourth-and-one pickups when quarterback Ricky Dobbs simply plunged straight ahead because Notre Dame left the center un-covered. Brilliant coaching there.

Let’s go back to one basic principle here for a minute: there is NO WAY Navy should ever beat Notre Dame. The Irish are going to be bigger, stronger, faster at just about every position on the field. The only way Navy competes—or wins—is by being smarter, tougher and better-coached. End of discussion.

One Notre Dame player, Ian Williams, admitted as such, saying he though that Navy’s offense had perhaps, “out-schemed,” Notre Dame’s defense and that, “they were tougher than us.”

That’s a pretty stand-up position to take—note he did NOT blame the coaches alone, he said Navy’s players were tougher than Notre Dame’s. Kyle McCarthy, the defensive captain, stood up for the coaches by saying the players were in the right spots, they just didn’t execute. Okay, that’s the right thing to say and I don’t blame the kid for saying it, but anyone with a cursory understanding of football could see that Notre Dame’s defense was NOT in position on a number of critical plays. How else do you account for Navy’s fullbacks averaging ELEVEN yards a carry on 19 carries? Was Navy’s offensive line SO dominant that Vince Murray and Alex Teich, neither of whom are likely to ever get a carry in the NFL, ran roughshod over the Notre Dame defense?

Of course Weis couldn’t wait to rip Williams and praise McCarthy. “That’s why one kid’s a captain and the other one’s not,” he said.

You know what Charlie, that kind of comment is why you deserve to be an ex-coach pretty soon. How about saying, “Look, we’re ALL responsible for the loss—and so is Navy. They were better than us—playing, coaching—everything.”

No, that’s not Weis’s style. He rips his own player for not being in lockstep and agreeing the players played bad but the coaches coached good. What a first class jerk.

Of course he wasn’t finished. Next, he sent co-defensive coordinator Corwin Brown to rip Niamatalolo for gently saying his team might have known what Notre Dame was going to do. Why wouldn’t Notre Dame do what it had done a year ago? The other defensive coordinator John Tenuta not only said during the week that’s what they were going to do but bragged about having seen “every option offense known to man.” Really? So what happened out there on Saturday?

Brown also railed against Navy’s “illegal cut blocks.” Let’s get this straight: cut blocks aren’t illegal, CHOP blocks are. A cut block is a block below the waist, a chop block is a block below the waist when the defender is already engaged with another blocker. It is a 15 yard penalty. Brown called the play on which Navy wide receiver Nick Henderson took down Notre Dame defender A.J. Blanton after the play one of the dirtiest plays he’d ever seen.

Please. It was an absolutely stupid, dumb play by Henderson that cost his team—rightly so—15 yards. I’ve watched the tape. If Henderson makes the block during the course of the play, there’s nothing illegal about it. It was away from the play and after the whistle—a clear, dumb personal foul, the kind players make trying to impress their coaches by “playing to the whistle.” But dirty? No. Stupid, yes. No one was hurt. The Notre Dame defender jumped right to his feet and began pointing—correctly—at the official to throw the flag, which he did.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Weis sent Corwin Brown out there to be his hit man, to try to divert attention from the fact that he’s just become the first Notre Dame coach in almost 50 years to lose to Navy twice. Trying to make the Navy coaches and players into bad guys is one of the all-time stretches in bad-guy history. Someone might point out to Weis that next year, wherever he’s coaching and throwing his players under the bus and whining that nothing is his fault, the 32 seniors on Navy’s team will be Naval and Marine officers and will be helping to ensure that he can have the freedom to be the complete and utter crybaby that he is.

Am I overreacting? Probably. But unlike Weis and Brown, I have some sense of who these kids are and of how remarkable that victory on Saturday truly was. For these two losers to try to take away from that accomplishment is infuriating. If they had any pride, any soul, any sense of what’s right and wrong, they would be ashamed of themselves.

As they should be.


Shaun E in PC said...

Brown went with a "classy" blast on Navy. Really? Looks like Weis & Co. are going out guns a blazing. It’s an epic ending to a horrendous hire.

Dana King said...

It amazes me these institutions of higher learning continue to hire coaches to represent them that aren't any smarter than this. The football coach at Notre Dame (Alabama, Florida, etc.) is the face of the university; no one knows who the president or chancellor is. Weis doesn't just make himself look like an ass; he cheapens the entire university.

thedean said...

Let's hope Pitt and Stanford put beatdown's on ND and see how Charlie "spins" that as he is packing his bags to leave town!

Rich said...

Somebody said somewhere, and I thought it was a good point, that this was a fine, classy rivalry throughout the long as Notre Dame was beating up Navy regularly.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, as usual. Do you think Delaware has any chance against Navy tomorrow?
Bob - UD Class of 77

Anonymous said...

Even as we speak I just heard a guy on WFAN in New York say that there was no way Navy should have beaten Notre Dame, that there is not one Navy player that would start on Notre Dame, and maybe not on any big time D-1 program team [I think a lot of programs are kicking themselves for passing on Ricky Dobbs]. What I haven't heard anyone say is that game was not as close as the score. If it wasn't for a very lucky onside kick recovery and late meaningless touchdown, the score wouldn't have made it look like a nail biter, which it wasn't.

Anonymous said...

"the 32 seniors on Navy’s team will be Naval and Marine officers and will be helping to ensure that he can have the freedom to be the complete and utter crybaby that he is"

More like an utter ass with no class and integrity.

God Bless our Midshipmen and their coaches. You have to be very special to be NAVY!!!!

byrne.images said...

Eleven wins over 83 years, the wanking coming out of South Bend is getting hilarious...I was there last weekend (came out from SoCal), two old boys sitting behind me in Section 12 made each offensive call as if they were hard wired to Charlie's brain...including the snafu where Clausen drilled Floyd in the back. Coach Ken's staff new what was coming sure as the old-timer's behind me... Take your lumps Irish, with responsibility for your actions, and accept the reality that we beat you...without illegal blocks or trickery...
Go Navy! See y'all in Philadelphia!

John said...

So I'm assuming that John Feinstein no longer believes that Navy has "no business playing Notre Dame"? Reliable word on the street says that just before Navy beat ND in 2007, Mr. Feinstein was privately commenting that Navy had no chance against ND and never would. Way to jump on the bandwagon, John...

Anonymous said...

Feinstein, you have to move a little faster than that to get on the Navy bandwagon. Those are some really original ideas you came up with. Charlie Weis is a "loser"? Very professional. He "deserves to be an ex-coach"? Great stuff. Keep up the amazing insight you have provided, but hurry up, the band-wagon is moving quickly.

Geoff said...

John, while I agree with you 100% on Weis, even a great coach like Niamatalolo discusses mistakes following losses. In fact, you quoted him in this post saying "We made some mistakes, didn’t carry out some assignments." He's obviously referencing his players here. Again, I'm not arguing your points on Weis, and I'm not attacking Niamatalolo because he does give credit and take blame with the utmost of class, but it is hard for a coach to fully discuss a loss without talking about mistakes and missed assignments. Both are inevitably reasons why a team loses, along with coaching and many other factors, and it's just part of the game.

Regardless, Go Mids!