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Do you feel lucky?

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, December 4, 2008

We seniors have seen a lot of things happen in the four seasons we have cheered for Notre Dame Football as students. It seems that few classes have sat through a more tumultuous and disappointing span of our team’s history than ours. We have experienced the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Notre Dame Football in four years, and now that it is all over I’d like to use this space to therapeutically reminisce on all that has happened, and what could still happen.

The Good:

Not knowing much of anything about what would happen, and then winning the first game against Pitt by a huge margin. – Upsetting a top five Michigan team on the road the following week. – Pass Right.- The Stadium Pep Rally before the USC game. – College GameDay on Library Quad. – Green Jerseys (in 2005 against USC). – Brady Quinn running for the go-ahead points with under 2:00 to play against USC. – The instant before 4th and 9.- When the clock said 0:00. – A Fiesta Bowl Berth. – Starting 2006 ranked #2. – Annihilating Penn State – The Rain Soaked 4th Quarter Comeback at Michigan State. – Samardjia’s catch against UCLA. – Crushing Michigan in the rain earlier this year. – Ty Willingham being fired by UW after our team crushed his.

The Bad:

Our Decided Schematic Advantage. – Michigan State winning in OT – The flag being planted on our field. – Leinart to Jarrett on 4th and 9. – The fact that we needed Samardjia’s catch to beat UCLA – Whatever happened in the Coliseum that November. – Green Jerseys (in 2006 against ARMY) – The Running Game post D-Walk. – Javon Ringer running rampant this season. – Losing 4th quarter leads against UNC, Pitt, and Syracuse.

The Ugly:

The Bush Push. – The 2006 Michigan Game. – Sugar Bowl. – The Year 2007. – The Year 2007. – The Year 2007. -The Option Offense. – Celebrations when the team beat UCLA in 2007. -Green Jerseys (in 2007 against USC) – Navy in overtime. – A Shutout at BC. – UNC Fans chanting Let’s Play Football towards the end of the Maui Invitational last week.

I think that last one was when the Notre Dame Football program hit rock-bottom. It wasn’t when we lost to Navy last year. It wasn’t when our team lost to Syracuse on Senior Day. It wasn’t earlier this week when my roommates and I discussed whether or not the Fighting Irish would be playing in the Sun Bowl or the Texas Bowl. Rock-bottom was when the North Carolina fans, some of the most die-hard basketball fans in the country were more concerned with our football team than with the game that was happening at that moment.

One week, and one more loss in the Ugly column later, and coach Weis was in a meeting with Athletic Director Swarbrick. The meeting, apparently, was not to stop the bleeding but to give Coach Weis more bandages to fix this conundrum. The two have now devised a plan for how to bring Notre Dame football back to the place that the alums expect it to be, competing for National Championships. With his decision to retain Coach Weis, the blame for what happens next sits on Athletic Director Swarbrick’s shoulders just as much as it sits on Weis’. Because of this, I have to ask Mr. Swarbrick one question: Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?

While the student body might be mixed over whether or not Coach Weis should have been retained, it seems that most of the Alums and ALL of the media believed Weis was a dead man walking in the Coliseum last Saturday. In rolling the dice Mr. Swarbrick has figuratively got into bed with the Coach that promised to bring us hard-working, intelligent, nasty football team. He has inextricably tied his perception amongst the alums and possibly his future at this University to how successful a group of 19 and 20-year-old boys perform on the field next year.

As for Coach Weis, he has to find a way to take the Ugly out of this school’s football program. One place he can start is by holding back the arrogance and being a little more humble. If his contract truly is as large as we have been meant to believe in recent weeks, he would certainly have the funds to give us seniors a refund for all of the emotional trouble we have been put through. Sixty thousand dollars can refund us all for what we saw as our last game in the student section, and I think it would be a small price to pay for some good will with the soon-to-be young alums. I think most of the seniors would join with me in sending the money right back to Hannah and Friends, and we would all be better off for it.

At the very least, I think the senior class deserves an apology from the coach. On Oct. 15, 2005 we as fans were taken to the highest of heights, only to be let down again, and again, and again in the ensuing three years. We’ve witnessed the worst two years of Notre Dame football, after unreasonable expectations were set for us early on. I don’t know if the Notre Dame family needs to lower its expectations of our football team. I don’t know if the world has passed our program by, but what I do know is that it has been one hell of a four years, and I’ll always remember the good times more than the bad and ugly ones.

Bob Kessler is a senior majoring in political science and economics. You can contact him at rkessler@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.