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Football Commentary: Worst ever.

Jay Fitzpatrick | Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A few weeks ago, The Observer ran a sarcastic weekly poll asking whether the 2007 Notre Dame Football season was a great one or the greatest one.

I think now is the time to debate if it is the worst season ever.

The first example is Saturday’s 38-0 loss to Southern California – the worst loss for Notre Dame in the series.

That’s right. Whatever you want to say about Gerry Faust, Bob Davie or even Tyrone Willingham, only Charlie Weis has gotten beaten that badly by the Trojans.

The Irish have also started off 1-7 this season – tied for the worst eight-game single season stretch in their history. The only other time Notre Dame has started off this poorly was in 1960 under Joe Kuharich – but at least he beat the Trojans, 17-0.

In its history, Notre Dame has only had 11 losing seasons (including this one), thus playing themselves out of bowl eligibility. Davie had losing records in 1999 (5-7) and 2001 (5-6). Willingham had one in 2003 (5-7).

So it’s clear that this season Notre Dame is having one of its worst seasons – and it could be the worst if the Irish falter during the late-season cupcake schedule. But now the question is: What is being done to prevent that?

Weis entered Saturday’s post-game news conference laughing and telling a joke about how a player knocked him over during a special teams play.

Where was the anger? Where was the disappointment after losing to your biggest rival by the most points ever?

Weis’ mood eventually turned more somber as he fielded questions, but it was still unclear why, after just talking to a team that could do nothing offensively against the Trojans and failed to stop them for much of the second half, he was so happy.

Weis also said that this year was a bottom for the Irish and that he does not think his team will be this bad again.

“Let me just say people better enjoy it now, have their fun now,” he said.

But Weis has done nothing to prove that next season won’t be as bad as this campaign. The Irish do lose a couple of tough non-annual games like Penn State and Georgia Tech in next season’s slate, replacing them with cupcakes Syracuse and San Diego State, but the old mainstays are still there.

Notre Dame goes to USC, Michigan State and Boston College and has Michigan and Purdue at home. From what the Irish have shown this season, all five could be bad losses.

Many fans continue to look to the future; they continue to hope that current freshmen like Golden Tate and Duval Kamara will improve and excel or that recruits like Dayne Crist and Michael Floyd will really turn things around.

But why?

Kamara still drops too many passes, and Tate still runs mostly go-routes. Crist may or may not bring a hopeful spark; Jimmy Clausen was supposed to be great immediately, but he has been pedestrian at best.

Plus, the Irish lose a lot on defense. Tom Zbikowski, Maurice Crum, Joe Brockington and Trevor Laws – four of their best defenders – all graduate. Some young players have gotten significant experience and return, like Darrin Walls and Brian Smith, and some juniors, like David Bruton and Pat Kuntz, have stepped up their games. But the fall-off after that group is steep.

Weis needs to make major adjustments to try and save next season. He said he will begin playing younger players in the last four games to give them some experience, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough.

With no signs of life from the offense and a defense that can only hold on for so long, there is little Weis can to at this point to salvage this season. It’s lost.

And probably is the worst ever.