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Stanford loss ‘fitting end’ to season

Aaron Steiner | Tuesday, December 1, 2009

As the clock ran down to zero in Palo Alto Saturday, Cardinal fans put a final punctuation mark on Notre Dame’s disappointing season when they stormed the field amid various cheers — some advocating Charlie Weis’ ouster, and some advocating star Stanford running back Toby Gerhart as a Heisman candidate.

Despite a large contingent of Irish fans in Stanford Stadium, the field became an overwhelming sea of red as the football team and coach Charlie Weis left the field, ending the regular season and notching their fourth loss in a row — something most students said was not a surprise.

“It (the loss) is a fitting end to a tumultuous season,” senior Kristie Koch said of the game, saying the team had its ups and downs, but the string of four losses will define the season.
Freshman Tim Czech agreed the loss Saturday was appropriate, given the season.

“The Stanford game seemed to sum up the season — start strong and then lose it at the end,” he said.

Students speculated widely about the futures of quarterback Jimmy Clausen and receiver Golden Tate after the loss. Clausen told reporters after Saturday’s game that Weis was “the reason [he] came to Notre Dame.” That statement and other rumors led some to believe Clausen would leave Notre Dame for the NFL next year.

Senior Tracey Chuckas said she wouldn’t blame Clausen or Tate for leaving the team.
“They’d be smart to move on next year. They have a world of possibilities,” she said.
Czech disagreed, saying both would have better chances of winning the Heisman if they stay, and Clausen could have a stronger position in the NFL draft were he to stick it out another year.

At the conclusion of Charlie Weis’ fifth and final season at Notre Dame, students and Irish fans were left disappointed with a program that failed to meet expectations.
But Czech pointed out the team’s record could have easily turned out much better — or much worse.

“This season could have been very extreme, one way or the other. We could have very easily ended up 2-10 or 12-0,” he said, seeing as Notre Dame’s losses came in games with a less than seven point spread, and the victories — Nevada and Washington State excluded — came with only seven point margins or less.

Senior Tracey Chuckas — among plenty of other analysts — pointed to the Irish defense as the cause of most of the season’s woes.

“Football is all about the defense. Notre Dame lacked it, and therefore we aren’t going to a good bowl game, again,” she said.

Chuckas said Notre Dame needs a new start after the Weis era.

“A synonym for Notre Dame is champions and we have not had a championship in a long time,” she said.

She said the program needs a new coach and new start to “turn this team around and bring back the championships.”