September 22, 2008

Can we ever be LSU?

Jeremy, good thoughts on the game Saturday. I agree with you that Saturday was a step backward for the Irish after what appeared to be a breakthrough win over Michigan. We have a long way to go before we can start talking about being an elite team.

Before I get to the ND-MSU game, I wanted to toss in a few thoughts about that LSU-Auburn game. Maybe it was because it was the first SEC game I've watched all year, but the performances on the field in that game were jaw-dropping. Not only do they still have the great athleticism of the old SEC days, these teams are now just physically dominating along the lines, especially LSU. The teams of the SEC (we'll just include USC in that group) are playing a different sport than the rest of the college football world. It's incredible. LSU's front seven is absolutely ridiculous. They are bringing in waves of 8-9 defensive linemen, and every one of these guys would be the best player on our roster and probably the best player anywhere in the Midwest.

Here's my question for the ND fans. Even if we continue to mature and bring in these so-called top 5 recruiting classes, can we ever get to that level?? Like all ND fans, I've been following the recruiting and seeing us rack in these top 5 classes, but am I the only one who thinks that our talent level doesn't sniff what you see down at LSU or Auburn or Georgia or Florida?? I don't see one guy on our defensive roster outside of maybe Brian Smith (MAYBE) who would even be sniffing the field on any of those teams.

I don't care what the recruiting rankings are, we all have two eyeballs and can see that we don't have the big time players that other schools seem to have. How do they come up with these recruiting rankings anyway?? We are recruiting the 4.0 students, student body presidents, team captains, two parent family kids, and those kids probably get bumped up a bit in the recruiting rankings. EVERYONE ELSE is recruiting a different type of kid. The dirt poor linemen from rural Alabama, the inner city welfare kids, the Samoan islanders....guys who literally need football to have any future in life. We don't have even one of those kids on our entire roster, and I can't shake the feeling that those are the kids that we need to be big time. The hungry guys. We have GREAT all-around guys on our team who have a ton going for them in life and probably would be awesome to hang out with, but I'm not sure if that is really what would be best for our football team on the field. It's great for marketing and image, but not results. We have the talent to put together "nice" seasons like 2005 and 2006, but I don't see any Ricky Jean-Francois types on our roster.

LSU has kids from the Bayou who can't even read and would probably be dead or in prison if not for football. USC has these Samoan islander freaks that would be picking strawberries in the San Fernando Valley if it wasn't for football. If our kids don't make it in football, they go to law school or Wall Street. That's a good thing for our endowment fund and our US News ranking, but it is a problem for our football team. All I can think about was going out on Bourbon Street after the Sugar Bowl, and EVERY SINGLE GUY on LSU's team had the team issue clothes on out at the bars. EVERY GUY. Why?? I have no idea, but maybe it's because it's the only clothes they have. Our guys were wearing button downs, khakis, nice shoes. It's a great image for our team obviously, but our guys don't need football to dominate every part of their lives. That matters.

Anyway, the SEC is so far and away the best conference in America, it's not even funny. I don't care if the SEC champion has 2 losses this year. If the SEC champion isn't playing in the title game this year, it is not the title game. You cannot tell me that some Missouri-Penn State championship game would be legitimate if neither of those teams play anyone from the SEC. If you want to be considered the national champion, I think you have to go through the SEC.

Jeremy actually had an interesting idea for how to resolve the BCS and create a true national champion. What if college football used a championship belt system like they have in boxing?? Let's say you have three belts (one for the North, one for the South, and one for the West), and the only way for you to become the champion is to unify those belts and beat the other "titleholders." Instead of a playoff, the postseason could be a little round robin or something like that. That way, you can prevent the farce of a team winning a national title without playing anyone from the SEC. If you want to be the national champion, you have to take the "Southern" belt. I actually really like this idea maybe even more than a playoff (since a four team playoff could still leave out an SEC team in theory), and plus you would have the comedy of Ricky Jean-Francois coming out of the tunnel wearing a championship belt. Make it happen!!!

While we're here, I think I need to give credit where credit is due to Les Miles. At this point, there is no debate. He may come off like a bumpkin, but this guy is an outstanding head coach who gets his teams to play with incredible toughness and physicality. He is also maybe the gutsiest coach in college football today not named Pete Carroll. Does he have a ton of talent on his roster?? Absolutely, but talent alone does not win ballgames. He is now 8-3 against top 10 teams. That is remarkable. And they have won in some seriously hostile environments. While Saban laid the groundwork for that program, Miles has them rolling along. Based on how they play, I get the feeling that they must have some incredibly physical practices because they are easily the most physical team in the country. Their defense just explodes off the ball, and their offensive line mauls people. Color me impressed with LSU. If Jarrett Lee can come along a little bit, they are going to be really good this year. I used to hate Les Miles, but I'm actually coming around on him. The guy knows what he's doing, and they are fun to watch. I expect Verne and Gary to be making regular stops in Baton Rouge this year.

My top 5 through week 3:

1) USC
2) Florida
3) LSU
4) Alabama
5) Georgia

I'm in favor of starting the belt system now, so someone slap a belt on Pete Carroll and Urban Meyer. That "Southern" belt could change hands multiple times this year.

Let's get to the ND game:

Clausen - Not a whole lot to say about Jimmy Clausen that Jeremy has not already touched on. Clausen is really really good when he gets his feet set and has a place to go with the ball, but he gets himself into all kinds of trouble once he has to go through some progressions or improvise a little. I still think his issues are a product of youth, so hopefully he gets better with those reads as time goes along. There is a lot placed on his shoulders with this team, and he is essentially being asked to carry this team. How many other TRUE sophomore quarterbacks are in that position?? None. When you are putting everything in his hands, there are going to be some great plays and some shaky plays. That's just the nature of the beast. He throws that sideline out route as well as anyone in the country, but it would be nice to see him work the middle of the field to the tight end and maybe hit some crossing patterns. Hopefully he gets more comfortable in the pocket as the season goes along because those plays where he turns backwards for 6 yards and hurls it away at the first sign of a rush are killing us with intentional grounding penalties and near interceptions.

Hughes/Allen/the running game - While I will be the first to say that I am disappointed to see how finesse our o-line is in Weis' fourth year, I can live with the lack of a running game if we would just commit to some type of offense. Our offense has absolutely no identity. We seem to come out with a game plan, and then immediately scrap it when the going gets tough and start grab bagging out of the hurry up. We are now in the fourth year of the Weis offense, and I still have no idea what type of offense he wants to build here. He talks about wanting to run the ball, but it's obvious that our o-line hasn't worked on becoming a power running team that can play smashmouth. We will come out trying to run the ball, and it just leads to one stonewall run after another. There's no attempt at a misdirection run or anything to move the ball on the ground. It's almost like Weis decides in the middle of the 2nd quarter every game "well, we tried to run the ball, screw it, five wide!!"

It seems like almost every big game since 2006 Michigan has played out the same way. Completely inept for the first 25 or so minutes of the game on offense, and then we go to the hurry up at the end of the half and start moving the ball through the air. Then we do the same thing in the second half.

At this point, why not just come out in the 5 wides and see if we can jump on our opponent early through the air?? Would it really hurt to try it?? We have a top flight quarterback who can make all the throws, our receivers are as good as any young receivers in the country, and our o-line is built to pass block. Do I like that type of offense?? No, not particularly. Do I think we can beat USC or a big time SEC team with a one dimensional offense like that?? No, probably not because there is such a thin margin for error when you are always having to execute through the air and a good team will make us pay for being one-dimensional. But I do think it is our best way to move the football this year. At the very least, our guys at least seem to play with confidence when we run the Texas Tech no back hurry up passing offense. They seem to believe in it, and we do move the football down the field in that offense. I don't like the idea of becoming the Texas Tech of the Midwest more than anyone else, but I also don't want to see this team blow games that we should be winning.

Hopefully Robert Hughes and Cierre Wood are not reading this post because that offense obviously would not lead to a whole lot of carries for those guys. However, I think you have to play to your strengths. For all his bluster about the running game, Weis is most comfortable calling an offense that flings it around the field. He likes to call plays that set up one on one matchups for his receivers, and it actually has worked in stretches. If we committed to running it in practice and came out with that offense in the game, maybe we could really do some damage offensively.

Tight ends - Well, a unit that had been dormant through two games suddenly showed some life on Saturday. Definitely a good sign. Kyle Rudolph was open over the middle of the field quite a bit, and I would not be surprised to see us using that part of our offense again soon. The tight end over the middle was one of our bread and butter plays in the first couple years, so it would be nice to see Rudolph making some plays in the passing game. Not to make excuses for this team, but the tight end position is a perfect example of the extreme youth on this roster. Kyle Rudolph is a true freshmen who had no idea what he was doing in the first couple games, but now he is getting more comfortable and could be on his way to being a productive player as soon as this year.

Michael Floyd - Good god, a star is born. My gut feeling before this game was that Michael Floyd was about to become a household name in the very near future, but I did not expect him to break out like that just yet. Floyd is going to be a superstar in this offense. There is no one in the Big 10 or Big East (which comprises most of our schedule in upcoming years) who can guard him one on one. Floyd is such a smooth player and already looks like a guy who has the polish of a junior or senior. Very excited about Michael Floyd. His performance on Saturday confirms what we already knew. He is going to be a great player at ND.

Golden Tate/other receivers - It wouldn't be a 2008 ND game without mentioning the remarkable transformation of Golden Tate. While MSU made a concerted effort to try to shut him down and kick away from him, Tate still made his mark on this game with that incredible catch in traffic on the floater from Clausen (that easily could have been picked off), a great run on a reverse, and that remarkable effort to break tackles and convert that long 3rd down play late in the game. Tate is a warrior, and we need more guys like him. He refuses to be denied out there, and I love that attitude.

Where was David Grimes in this game?? Was he hurt?? I didn't see him out there much. Robbie Parris is a very underwhelming player if you ask me. The only play we run for him now is that bubble screen, which hasn't worked yet this year. I don't know what to expect out of Parris. He doesn't make any plays.

As for Duval Kamara, I think he is officially on the bench at this point. While the first interception was not his fault (not a good decision by Clausen to throw into double coverage like that), I think the second one might have been on him. Kamara didn't fight to get open, and let his man beat him to the ball. It was especially disheartening because Michael Floyd probably would have found a way to catch that ball.

Defensive line - Did anyone else notice that every big run Javon Ringer had on Saturday seemed to be to the left side of the line?? I'm not going to say too much, but I will note that John Ryan is our right defensive end. I think it's time to put Ethan Johnson in there as our starting right defensive end. We actually have been using him down on the goal line, and he is a pretty effective runstuffer. Why not put this guy in during other situations?? He is clearly a more talented player than John Ryan. The best players need to be on the field. I don't think it will be long before Ethan Johnson is starting over Ryan.

As for the rest of the d-line, I actually thought we played ok up front. Ringer had some big runs, but we also stopped him quite a few times. The only way to get better up front is to start mixing in those freshmen more and more. I don't think we will ever have LSU's personnel up front, but we can certainly get much better.

Linebackers - Brian Freaking Smith. WOW. Another great ballgame for this guy. What I like about Brian Smith is that he makes most of his big plays behind the line of scrimmage. He's not a Lauranaitis type who makes all his plays after the ballcarrier is 5 yards down the field. Smith has a knack for knifing into the backfield and blowing up a play. He has the athleticism to get to the sideline and cut off the running lanes against anyone. Couldn't be more excited about #58's future. He has a chance to be an all-time great at ND.

As for the rest of the linebackers, maybe I am in the minority, but I'm not in love with the idea of Harrison Smith as a linebacker. I think the guy has some ability, but he is too small to be a great linebacker. I just don't see it with this guy. I'd rather move him back to safety and groom him to take over for David Bruton after next year. I've watched him get beat in pass coverage, and he doesn't have the size to explode into the pile and mix it up at the line of scrimmage.

Corners - I agree wholeheartedly with Jeremy about Terrail Lambert. Every time MSU needed a big 3rd down conversion, they threw at Lambert. He is not a good cover guy, and I really think we need to explore a change at that position to get Gary Gray in there. Gray has more "material" than Lambert. It's a simple fact. Lambert plays hard and is actually decent in run support, but he is the last of the old ND corner recruits and doesn't have the abilities to be a lockdown corner. Gray, McNeil, and even Blanton have more raw talent than Lambert, and I'd like to see all those guys on the field together more.

Safeties - Another great day for Kyle McCarthy. It seemed like he was all over the field again, and I think he's the frontrunner for the most improved player award on the defense.

Overall, I thought the defense played pretty well. We still need to get better up front, but I think we are more fundamentally sound and also more aggressive. Those two attributes will eventually pay off.

Special Teams - Nothing more to say that hasn't been said, but it really does amaze me that we can't find a good kicker. You would think ND would be to the kicker what USC is to quarterbacks. We are made for a good kicker. White guys, good students, Catholic schools. How do not have some plucky little guy who grew up belting kicks for some state championship team in the Midwest and now is living out the dream at ND?? Just seems like ND fits the demographic to be Kicker U, and yet we've had a bad placekicking team for about 12 out of the last 14 years.

Same goes for kickoffs. We watched the MSU kicker boom a kickoff through the uprights on Saturday. THROUGH IT!! Our kickers are barely getting it to the 10. Just a killer in the field position game. Michigan freaking State has a better kicking game than us. How is that possible??

Michigan State - Since we're discussing the game, I wanted to say a couple things about Michigan State. First of all, I like what Mark Dantonio is doing there. He came to that school, and immediately tried to establish an identity. They decided to hang their hat on a sound running game with good blocking up front, an attacking defense, and good special teams. While they are still a work in progress to some degree, they at least have a foundation that they can build upon.

Ringer is obviously a special player, and I thought their o-line played fairly well. It sounds like their o-line is just as young as ours, so that could be a real good unit over the next couple years. Their receivers were pretty athletic, but you could tell that they don't have a lot of experience. They had some bad drops.

As for Hoyer, I thought he played pretty poorly against us. He missed a lot of open receivers, and it doesn't seem like the fans have a whole lot of confidence in him. Hoyer has been an ok placeholder for MSU, but it sounds like the fans are ready to embrace the Oklahoma transfer or someone else within that program.

Their schedule is actually fairly favorable this year, so they may be able to sneak out 8-9 wins this year. I think they will be 6-1 with the Buckeyes coming into town. Could be interesting. I think they have a shot to finish anywhere from 3-5 in the Big 10 this year, which would be a good year for them.

The scary part about MSU is that they are probably just scratching the surface of their potential as a program under Dantonio. They have a highly regarded transfer QB coming in from Oklahoma, they've brought in a couple good RB recruits, and their o-line is actually fairly young. I think the future is fairly bright in East Lansing.

East Lansing/Spartan Stadium - Nothing but good things to say about the experience up in East Lansing this weekend. It is a first class university in a good college town with good fans and a good stadium. Their student section was rocking most of the day, and the crowd was pretty fired up with the "Whiteout" planned for the game. MSU's band is pretty darn good (although not as good as the incredible outfit that Dr. Kenneth Dye continues to put together year after year), and some of their songs are still ringing in my head.

While I have expressed interest in occasionally taking a break from MSU and Purdue, I'm revising my stance just a bit. I think MSU should be a permanent fixture on the schedule. It's a good little rivalry, they almost always have a competitive team, and we have had a history of great games with them. MSU has the potential to be one of the 3-4 best programs in the Big 10, and any win over them is always respectable.

On the other hand, a break with Purdue is long overdue. Purdue is barely staying afloat as a program, and I think they are in for some real hard times after Tiller leaves. At best, they are the 6th or 7th best program in the Big 10. Purdue just doesn't have the access to talent that you need. They are getting the 3rd tier players in the state of Indiana, which isn't even that great for high school football in the first place. If we are looking to move/drop one of those Big 10 teams, I would be all for dropping Purdue and using their spot for a decent home and home with an SEC/ACC team like Clemson or South Carolina or Arkansas. Heck, even Ole Miss would be more intriguing than Purdue.

Charlie Weis - Predictably, Weis is taking a lot of heat for this loss, and I think some of it is warranted. We clearly have a lot more talent than Michigan State, but our talent is still a long way from forming into a championship team. As Jeremy noted, our offense consists of Clausen firing and our receivers making great individual plays. There is no method to our offense. The only time we move the ball is when we go into helter skelter desperation mode. That is probably not a long term model for success unless we commit to making that our actual offense.

Michigan State is a nice team, but hardly a great team by any stretch. While I had that game down as a loss before the season, it turned out that it was a winnable game. They are a slightly above average team with a deeply flawed QB and a defense that Cal torched in week one, and yet they completely dominated us up front, and outplayed us in all three phases of the game.

Our special teams are better, but still not at a championship level. Our defense is better, but MSU and Michigan have gashed us for yards. Can't even imagine what a really good offense would do to us.

What are we building toward?? Are we headed toward championship level play over the next couple years or is our ceiling as a program going to be a lot like the 2006 type teams that can put up big stats against Purdue but gets blown out by the big boys?? I really am not sure at this point. I guess we'll find out over the next few years.

The good news for Weis is that the young talent we have on this roster appears to be outstanding in some areas (WR, TE, corner, QB), and the players are playing hard for him. This team does not give up, and I like the swagger of the younger players. I am not giving up on Weis by any stretch, and I hope we continue to improve over the course of the season. With the schedule we have, there are still a ton of winnable games. Heck, every one of these games until USC is a winnable game.

Are we capable of someday being in the same class as LSU?? Not sure, but we sure as heck have better players than just about everyone on our schedules coming up the next few years. While I am not a fan of playing a weak schedule, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to win a bunch of games.

Our goal as a program should be to at least capture the "Northern" belt in the next couple years, and then we'll see what happens from there.


Mike said...

Great post as usual.

Quick comment re: receivers- Grimes didn't play because his back flared up during the week. Hopefully he can return to the lineup this week.

Ryan said...

The south has superior football players because they can play year round. Plus there is a focus on football. I went to high school in Louisiana and it's like freaking varsity blues. Indoor facilities, large stadiums, incredible.

I liked your article, just wanted to get away from they can't read. They play more football, that's why they are better.

Chief said...

Yeah, LSU players can read - granted most don't have Rhodes Scholar potential, but they're all students and they have to make their grades to play (Jean-Francois missed last season for academic reasons). They're also good citizens. If they're not, they either become good citizens or Les moves them out. Enjoyed your blog.

New Orleans Eric said...

I can read and do many other things as well. Interesting on how you play up Wall Street these days. They should all be ashamed of themselves and the greed they have created. The brush you paint with is broad and Louisiana is a poor state but we have passion.

We can always get up for you guys. I remember we beat ND 28-6 after losing 3-0 the preceding year. The passion is still there.

Tigress1 said...

I can't beleive that you would say something like LSU players can't read, etc. You base this on what info? Also, the players wear their LSU outfits around town because of PRIDE!!! Team unity as well.
You will see all the fans doing the same. It may be true that some players come from less privledged backgrounds than others, but they do have a change of clothes, they do have to pass entrance exams, and the can't be on the team if they don't keep up their grades. You need to get off the elitist bus and check out the real world.
And no, ND will never be an LSU.
Geaux Tigers!

Franco said...

Looka, I know what you were getting at with the LSU kids can't read comment but it's going to earn you a lot of flack.

As an LSU fan, I appreciate your kind words about the football team. And I'd just like to give my opinion on the issue you discussed.

Like another commenter mentioned, in the south you can play football year round. Also, there is a strong emphasis placed on football. The culture is very much based around football, especially in the SEC region. This certainly helps with developing players. Look at it this the NCAA, what are the dominant hockey programs? Any of them from the south? Didn't think so.

As far as Notre Dame goes, I'll give my opinions on why I think Notre Dame has slipped.

1. Too high of admission standards.

2. I know most ND fans will hate me for this, but ND really needs to join a conference. If ND joined the Big Ten then that conference immediately regains its credibility. Hell, even if ND joined the Big East it would be a big improvement for both entities. Sticking to this independent tradition is going to hurt the team in the long run.

3. Media Hype. I know that ND can't really do much about it, but the excessive media hype ND receives hurts the program. Overhyped recruits lead to overhyped expectations for the season. Overhyped success during the season leads to being placed in Bowl games where ND is heavily outmatched, and inevitably loses. ND should have never been in BCS bowls after the 2005 and 2006 seasons. If ND would have going to a bowl on the level on the prestige level of say the Capital One Bowl or the Cotton Bowl, then they probably could have won, built momentum and gained confidence. Instead, two blowouts only serves to tarnish the image of ND.

These are just my opinions, and I may be right or wrong. What do ND fans think about these issues?

Todd said...

I'm yet another LSU fan to find your blog and wanted to thank you for your praise of our team and our coach. You're seeing what we've been seeing for the past few years and we're very proud of our guys.

However, your comments re: the intelligence and socioeconomic background of our team were unfair and IMO stems from a need to make yourself feel better about having an inferior team and it's only your attempt to remain superior... at least in your own mind. That's understandible but a bit childish.

With that said, let me give ND some praise. Back in the '90s under Dinardo, I made the trip up to South Bend when we played you and had the best time I've had outside Tiger Stadium at a college game. Your fans were great, your campus beautiful and your players were on par with ours. Unfortunately our DC Lou Tepper sucked. In fact I called Dinardo's radio show the next week and complimented him on his alma mater. I also told him his defensive scheme was so bad if he played a flag football defense of having each defensive player pointing to the guy on offense he had, we'd be better off. Our D was that bad.

Flash forward to the Sugar Bowl a couple of years ago. I was in the Superdome and was amazed at how small your players were at pregame warmups. I called my dad and told him it would be a wipeout. That there was no way these smaller, slower players could contend with LSU. And you saw the results.

You guys up north hate the admittedly overused term "speed kills" but it does. We learned it the hard way with Steve Spurrier at Florida beating the crap out of us for years. He brought the SEC to a higher level and now most of us is on board.

You'll have to find a way to do so as well.

Anyway, best of luck. I became a Notre Dame fan that Saturday afternoon when you guys whipped us. It'd be fun to see you rise up again.

bolo said...

You comment on your top 5 recruiting classes. What are you doing with those recruits once they get there. Are they being developed. LSU is not only recruiting good players, they are developing them in the weight room and on the field. You've got to do something with the player once they get in your program. It appears to me that the coaching staff at ND isn't doing well with player development.

Sterling said...

players being dumb.....

SEC Schools Lead Nation in First-Team Academic All-Americans
Courtesy: UGA Sports Communications
Release: 08/07/2006

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- During the 2005-06 academic year, the Southeastern Conference placed 17 of its student-athletes on first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Teams as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, more than any Division I conference in the nation.

kevin said...

Ummmm.... well this is a kick in the stomach as an ND fan. Not only does LSU have the best football team, apparently their fan base is top notch as well. It's a pleasure to see well thought out and amiable responses to the "can't even read" comment, because I don't think it was meant as a knock on anybody’s character. I expected caustic comments accusing the writer of racism, bigotry, etc., etc. Hate to say it, but ND fans (me included) could take a lesson from the LSU fans on this board.

My living room is the unofficial, non-sanctioned, non-alumni home of Auburn football in Kansas City. Being that the SEC is the only conference worth watching outside of The Big Spread … I mean, the Big Twelve, there’s definitely room for another southern squad (as long as they’re not playing Auburn). Welcome aboard LSU, can’t wait to chat up both fan bases at an LSU/Auburn game next fall.

Jimmy said...

Have to second Kevin's words on the class of LSU fans commenting on the emotional, yet misguided opinions of Doug. Nothing more than a little program envy. Thanks for taking the time to point these out in an articulate fashion, and still finding ways to compliment the Irish.

I too remember fondly the '98 LSU-ND clash in South Bend. One of my favorite tailgating experiences with all of the jester-looking Tiger fans. Ya'll folks know how to throw down. I also met Dustin Diamond of Screech fame that morning. Though he was wearing neutral colors, I think he heard wind of where the party was that week.

The rest of college football is behind the curve BIG time on the brand of pigskin in the South. Already have Oct. 24th circled on my calendar for next year's Auburn-LSU game in the shadow of Death Valley. Can't wait to bask in the revelry that is SEC football.

crogan said...

Nice comments on LSU which are correct. Spurrier started this and the rest of the SEC has caught up. Saban and Miles should be credited with LSU's success.

Here is my solution to the national championship problem:


The SEC has 4 teams in the Top 10,

and have 2 of the 2 last National Champions,

And OSU and USC have easy runs for the Big11 and Pac 10 conference championships,

And LSU AND FLA have trounced OSU recently in successive BCS title games,

And the Big11 has no playoff

And the Pac10 has no playoff

And the BCS has locked in bowl games with conferences that are no longer national contenders (ACC) or are dominated by only one team (Big East-W VA)

And LSU has to play 3 of 4 SEC opponents currently ranked in the Top 10, and similar for the others SEC teams, thus making it highly difficult for an SEC team to have a undefeated or even one loss season,

And average fans want a playoff

And ESPN and CBS have stepped up to a 15 yr national deal with the SEC, indicating a recognition of the superior strength of the SEC

And University Presidents/other authorities do not want to upset the Bowl system, but remain highly motivated to increase revenue from broadcast networks

THEN here is a solution for consideration by sports fans:

Eliminate the SEC/ACC/Big12 Championship game:

Create two championship playoff games on the same day/weekend

Pool 1) SEC East vs. highest ranked from the ACC/Big11/Big East

Pool 2) SEC West vs. highest ranked from Big 12/Pac10 Champ/other BCS contender on top 10

Winners play in BCS Final

The other bowl games continue with appropriate changes.

Alternatively, just pick the highest ranked from Game 1 pool and Game 2 pool rather than lock in SEC Division Champ.

When did USC last play a SEC champion/runner up? This scenario has USC playing both the West Champ then East in order to get top ranking. Alternatively, LSU/Auburn plays USC then meets GA/FL in BCS Championship game. Now that would be exciting football.


Ridiculous post.......wah, wah, wah
First, let's not kid ourselves....Academically, Notre Dame is no Harvard. It's not even a Michigan, UVa ,'s really probably on par with a school like Rutgers.....just with a worse football team.
Further undercutting the argument is the fact that Notre Dame was a football superpower not that long ago. Their program had an uncanny resemblance to USC, and Notre Dame had its share of not-so-bright athletes (black and white) and competed for national championships.
The real reason that Notre Dame has a pitiful football program is that top athletes just don't want to go to South Bend, Indiana to either matriculate or play football. Much of Indiana is more racist than allot of south, and there's absolutely nothing to do in South Bend as well.
The only reason any good athlete would even consider ND is if they had a chance at a national championship, and their pitiful recent history and program has made that impossible. They recruited Ty Willingham so that he could recruit the premier black athletes, but even he realized it was a lost cause.
Notre Dame has to put together a decent season or two and show prospective athletes that they will have a "chance" to compete in big games and possibly play for a national championship. LSU had mediocre programs in the 90's under Curly Hallman and Gerry Dinardo, and they couldn't keep the 5 star recruits of Louisiana from going out of state. After Nick Saban had two good seasons, just about every one of them wanted to jump on board. Notre Dame is just in a transition period, just like Nebraska and Oklahoma are right now.
Schools like LSU and USC , Florida, Georgia excel at football because players know that they have a decent chance to play in January.....period!

....and because South Bend Indiana really is as bad as everyone says it is.....

ndjay said...

I don't completely disagree with what you are saying. However, Notre Dame ranks academically higher than Michigan and UVa! The only SEC school that ranks with ND is Vandebilt.

Matt said...

Come on dude. Comparing Notre Dame to the State University of New Jersey is ridiculous. This is a sports blog so I don't want to get into academic rankings and that sort of thing. I'll just leave it at that.

As far as the football aspect, I think most of us Notre Dame fans realize we aren't getting the same caliber athlete as many SEC schools. And I'm sure the city of South Bend might play a small factor in that, but there are a ton of other factors at work. And I would argue that Charlie Weis is clearly upgrading the talent on both sides of the ball. I think Notre Dame's wide receivers and cornerbacks, the 'speed positions,' are in as good of shape as they have been in the last 20 years.

Personally, even with the results on the field this year - I'm more excited than ever about Notre Dame football. There is going to be too much talent on the field next year not to succeed.

TigerDave said...

Quote: "LSU has kids from the Bayou who can't even read and would probably be dead or in prison if not for football."

By making that statement, you have proven yourself to be more ignorant than any member of LSU's football team.

And by the way, you can kiss all of our SEC asses, punk.

TigerDave said...

Quote: "LSU has kids from the Bayou who can't even read and would probably be dead or in prison if not for football."

By making that statement, you have proven yourself to be more ignorant than any member of LSU's football team.

And by the way, you can kiss all of our SEC asses, punk.

ndjay said...

One other thing that most people don't know is that Notre Dame is a small university compared to LSU, Florida and the like. It's undergraduate student body is only a little over 8000.

Jeremy said...

ND = Rutgers? Got a basis for that ridiculous statement? If your post was simply an inflammatory response to the original post, so be it. But I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Some of the better Holtz teams of the late 80's and early 90's did include some players with questionable academic credentials, but this has changed drastically the in the last 10 years or so. There are large groups of top HS athletes that ND can't even thinking about touching due to the limitations imposed by the administration. I'm not saying that those individuals would even have an interest in playing at ND, but closing off such a large segment of the population definitely makes it more difficult to recruit at a high level.

"They recruited Ty Willingham so that he could recruit the top black athletes but even he realized it was a lost cause."

Not sure where that's coming from, but once again you're out of your element. Willingham basically stopped recruiting altogether following his first class, which led to the 2 worst recruiting classes in ND history. I'll cop to thinking that hiring Willingham would perhaps help persuade young African-American athletes to come to ND, but that certainly didn't happen. Weis has had more recruiting success thus far than Willingham could ever dream of having.

As to your comments on South Bend - I can't disagree. Its a terrible place. Its cold as hell. There's not much to do. The "scenery" isn't great. And young African-American high school athletes who visit the campus have to be a bit taken aback when they realize they would be in a huge minority if they decided to attend.

There are definite roadblocks to success at ND, and maybe the Irish will never get back to the top again. But Weis has shown the ability to work harder than just about anyone else, especially in recruiting.

tigersjack said...

ok, i understand that LSu was commented to have illiterate players and players that are supposed to be in jail but...these are simply comparisons and exaggerations to say that LSU's players are there to play football, not to be on tv when they play north texas like Notre Dame would. With that being said, LSU is one of the best programs of the 2000's (2 national champioships) and my top five is as follows:
Please comment, i would love to prove you wrong

Matt said...

If you're trying to convince us that the SEC is superior or that LSU is one of the best teams in the country, then you're barking up the wrong tree. We all acknowledge that, in fact that was the whole point of Doug's original post. I think we all would put LSU as one of the top 2 teams of the decade behind LSU. So no need to try to prove us wrong.

For the record, my current AP ballot looks like

1. USC
2. Florida
3. LSU
4. Georgia
5. Oklahoma

48. Notre Dame

Matt said...

Sorry, behind USC.

Anonymous said...

ND has been mediocre or subpar for 20 of the last 29 years - give or take a season. Holtz recruited 3 Prop 48's - Zorich, Tony Rice and Irish LB from Chicago whose name escapes me. And some thugs like Mike Miller, Ricky Watters, etc. Those years they were good.

Stanford, Vandy, the academies recruit better quality kids
so the EVERYONE ELSE is recruiting a different type of kid argument holds little weight.

Anonymous said...

If Notre Dame is a part of a conference (big 10 or big east) it adds significant crediblility to both parties. Notre Dame or Cincy would have another quality win. As things are right now, If you just took the top 4 teams. out of the big 12, the sec and USC, most years you would have a credible champ. other conferences need to step up a bit.