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Big Picture thread

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:27
edited by Jay, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:34

For those of you who aren't familiar, this is a recurring feature here at TPG where we check in at some regular interval (not too often, but regularly) to take your temperature on the state of the program, the head coach, the fan base (drink), ND in general, or any other "big picture" observations you'd like to make.

I found a very nice post from Jeremy from back in August of 2012, on the cusp of a championship run, that can serve as a conversation starter.

Honest question
by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Thursday, August 16, 2012, 14:58

Has there been a moment in the past 5 years that has resulted in universal happiness and excitement from the ND fanbase? I know it might be too much to ask for a group of unlike-minded folks to agree on anything, but I can't think of one. Even the USC victory was tinged with "well, they were playing a backup QB, and their WR dropped a sure TD and we suck anyway because we're playing a noodle-armed QB, and we decided to abandon the run until the last drive of the game..."

We're a group of seriously depressed and cynical folks who desperately need something good to happen this year. Even if we're a 2002-type paper tiger, it would be really cool if Golson could do something outrageous and lead ND to a BCS game, or at least a couple "surprising" wins. Of course, there would be plenty of Kelly-haters out there still, but we really need something to at least start bringing us back together...

To answer Jeremy's question over two years later: I think we just had one, but it may have been short-lived.

(prior Big Picture threads are at the big picture tag). Some good reading here.

We're at a bye week, three games into the fifth year of the Kelly reign. Where do you stand on this thing? Where are we going?

big picture


Building a program is all about the process, the plan

by Busco21, Monday, September 15, 2014, 21:05 @ Jay
edited by Busco21, Monday, September 15, 2014, 21:27

You can have the greatest coaches and players on the planet, but you might end up always coming close, never quite getting there. There is a shit-ton of luck involved in winning it all.

Success comes from consistently being in the conversation.

I shouldn't type a word, as our HS program is currently 1-3, after a decade of dominance. But I'm betting we win the next three games.

Hold kids accountable (most aren't nowadays), expect them to overcome everything, expect them to outwork their opponents. It doesn't matter two fucks if you win, at least you are developing young men who will succeed in life.

Lather, rinse, repeat.


Of course it matters if you win. That's why we play the games. Being 1-3 is messing with my head. Shit. Gotta get this thing going again.


Success in almost ANYTHING is process-based.

by PAK, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 05:52 @ Busco21

I see this in poker all the time. There's a reason the best players always seem to win in poker, and it's not because they happen to be lucky. It's because they win the maximum when luck is in their favor and the lose the minimum when it's not.

There's a lot of luck in any sort of success - the key is always putting yourself in the best position to take advantage of the positive luck you have and be able to shrug off any of the negative luck you experience.

In 2012 Kelly had us in position to take advantage of a lot of positive luck (such as Pitt missing a gimmie game winning field goal in OT). In 2013 and 2014 we have weathered some very striking negative luck with key players missing a lot of time.


Who do you have this week?

by Mike (bart), Monday, September 15, 2014, 21:34 @ Busco21

what's their deal?


Three games in a row

by Busco21, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 09:41 @ Mike (bart)

against teams closer to our enrollment numbers. We could certainly lose if we play poorly (like Friday's four fumbles lost fiasco), but I like the way our kids are reacting.


I've never been this satisfied as an ND fan.

by Silk, St. Louis, Monday, September 15, 2014, 19:00 @ Jay

Of course, my ND fanhood didn't mature until the Davie years, so although I followed the Holtz teams, it was through the prism of youth and innocence. That's not a great resume.

We're in good hands. "Next guy in" seems to work, and especially now that it appears we have a solid backup QB, I'm not as worried about a devastating injury even as I hope none happen. It'd be catastrophic if Kelly were to leave. We're clear a Top Ten program, and other than FSU, there's not a program on our foreseeable schedule that I'd trade places with at this juncture. Not Clemson, SC, Texas, Stanford, or even tOSU.

Are things perfect? No way. The run game is frustrating. Our WRs could play better. We're a tad thin on the DL. But there's depth, and the team is playing as a team.

We were a Baylor loss from a NC two years ago. I'm not sure if or when we'll get there again, but we have a very good chance to do so each of the next few years.


I am as enthusiastic as I've ever been about ND football.

by PAK, Monday, September 15, 2014, 18:55 @ Jay

I came to ND fandom late. I didn't have a college football allegiance until I arrived on campus in 1996 and after an awesome first game (Rossum returned the opening kickoff!) my fragile hopes got dashed quickly. We've had some good memories since then but I've never felt invincible as a Notre Dame fan like those of you who have been rooting for ND since 1987 or earlier.

That is starting to change.

Brian Kelly has a plan, a philosophy, and the working knowledge of how to execute it. It has taken longer than we all thought for it to get started, mostly because he inherited the worst group of QBs in Notre Dame history, but it is starting to take shape. We are growing into unconscious competence in every phase of the game while playing an unprecedented amount of young players. Next man in. We've had attrition this year that would have crippled virtually every other football program in the nation, yet we're out there beating opponents by two scores while we have sophomores playing positions they've never practiced. And we have the right kind of guys on a roster with Joe Schmidt, Max Redfield, Jaylon Smith - great kids who represent the best of Notre Dame. These are the building blocks that Kelly has been talking about since his introductory press conference and now we're seeing them in full effect.

Every week we are shaping ourselves into champions. Week 1 we manhandled a lesser opponent. Week 2 we throat-stomped a bitter enemy without mercy. Week 3 we took control despite not playing our best for over a quarter of football and were never in any danger of losing.

I follow over 250 accounts on twitter and probably 50-100 of those are people who follow programs other than ND. Even the people who hate Notre Dame the most - the 'bama gumps, the #FSUtwitter crazies, the Michigan fans, the people who had really obnoxious Notre Dame fan teachers/classmates in Catholic schools - fully recognize that we really have something going here. (Incidentally, this is what drives me batshit about ND fans complaining about stupid, nitpicky things. To quote Louis C.K., "Everything's amazing, and nobody's happy!" I'm sorry I got out of line in chat on Saturday, but it's one of my pet peeves. Appreciate what we have! Things are AWESOME right now.)

When we thrashed Michigan, it wasn't some sort of surprise to the folks who write and think intelligently about football. Maybe the margin of victory or the dominant nature of the win was a bit unexpected, but everyone who has an objective view on the state of our program thinks we are moving in the right direction, and QUICKLY.

Right now we are a top 10 program in college football. Within the next two years we will easily be in the top 5 by any measure.


Conscious Competence

by Jason93, Raining debris all over Europe, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:36 @ Jay
edited by Jason93, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 06:25

I think that the team grades at an overall Conscious Competence level, and it's the team's general youth and inexperience that keeps it from reaching the Unconscious Competence level.

The plan from a macro- and micro-level seems to be working, and despite a fan's desire to focus on certain dogmatic aspects of what might constitute winning football (RTDBK), I have no reason to believe that any tactical or strategic decisions are borne of mental weakness or lack of preparation. Kelly and company have made specific and conscious decisions about all facets of the game, and I'm learning to accept that I'll never have perfect information.

I compare the journey as a program to the reclamation project going on at 1060 West Addison in Chicago. Epstein and Hoyer have been systematically rebuilding a program that had been depleted of talent, strategic structure, and alignment of goals and philosophy at all levels. They've done a great job acquiring talent that fits their model, even if the talent arbitrage opportunities that were available in the Boston/Moneyball days have been worked out of the system. They've adapted their approach, and managed their philosophy to ensure that the program goals are in focus throughout the organization.

Kelly has had to adapt his approach in unexpected ways since coming to ND. Finding talented players that can be successful academically and athletically at Cincinnati is a lot different than the same challenge at ND. While he may have thought talent acquisition and retention would be easier at ND, the higher stakes and increased academic and collar scrutiny necessitated a period of adjustment in talent identification, and the last couple of classes seem to reflect an approach well-suited for ND and winning football.

Thumping Michigan does a world of good - the sun shines brighter, beer is colder, and my need to nitpick every aspect of the program is seriously diminished.

I like this team.

I think the children like it when I "get down" verbally.


what were the Willingham years? Unconscious incompetence?

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, September 15, 2014, 15:52 @ Jason93

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You jest, but that really is one of the levels of learning..

by PAK, Monday, September 15, 2014, 18:05 @ Jay

in the particular theory of learning that Kelly uses as the basis for his coaching.

Unconscious incompetence is defined as being bad, but not even knowing how or why you are bad. There are MANY MANY college football teams who generally fall into this bucket. Kansas. Kentucky. Purdue. Wake Forest.

These are football programs that are so bad from top to bottom that they don't even know what to do in order to improve.


Subconscious Incontinence

by Dylan, Santa Barbara, CA, Monday, September 15, 2014, 17:01 @ Jay

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by mkmcfrlnd, Monday, September 15, 2014, 20:20 @ Dylan

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this is really good

by Mike (bart), Monday, September 15, 2014, 17:24 @ Dylan

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That's really unfair, Jay

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, September 15, 2014, 15:56 @ Jay

I was perfectly competent at rendering myself unconscious during those years.


I agree with your overall point, but please don't compare

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:42 @ Jason93

us to the Cubs or make any Cubs-related analogy. Whatever they have might be contagious and we don't need any additional curses or crazy Indian burial ground type stuff around our program.


I know - I'm playing with fire.

by Jason93, Raining debris all over Europe, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:44 @ BillyGoat

[ No text ]

I think the children like it when I "get down" verbally.


Losing is a disease. As contagious as the bubonic plague.

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:56 @ Jason93

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I'm ready to start caring about Notre Dame football again

by OGerry @, Maine wilderness, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:49 @ Jay

as a permanent kind of thing.

I hate the lack of a run game that leads to twenty yard runs in the 4th quarter, but Kelly is obviously the best we've had since Holtz.


Big picture: I now expect to win each weekend

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:14 @ Jay

I don't hope to win each weekend, I expect it. Yeah, chances are good that I won't expect it the week before we play FSU. But the day before I sure will!

Kelly has brought back the way I felt when I was a frosh and soph in college. Even the 2002, 2005, and 2006 seasons didn't feel this way. It's not a run of good results; it's a week-in and week-out expectation that the team will win because of course they will win.

As Slainte or Kevin (can't remember who) said over the weekend, this is the ND I know and love: a 16-point win that seems disappointing. Wasn't long ago that any 16-point win was a nice thing to savor; now it's cause for some people to break out the "I would fire Kelly if/when ______" posts (not naming any names, but I hate Miami already).


Ain't it the truth

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:23 @ Greg
edited by Jack, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:30

The first time I ever experienced the doubt that we wouldn't win every week was with Gerry Faust. I wasn't even sure what to do, it had never happened before. When that feeling returned in varying degrees in Daviehamweis years (with an ever so short break in 2005-2006), it was sickening. It wasn't really gone for me during 2012 as much as I loved that season but we really weren't there offensively. Last year, nope, not there. This year it was almost gone after the Rice game, but went away completely at about halftime of the Michigan game, and man, I hope it never returns.

Yeah, we didn't play very well Saturday night. Was I worried? No, I really wasn't.


I'm as excited as I've been since Davie started.

by ndroman21, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:12 @ Jay

Which happened to coincide with my frosh year. I suspected after the 17-13 struggle with GT as my first game that something wasn't right.

I was pretty excited the next year after beating defending 1/2champ UM in the opener. That lasted 7 days.

2005 became 2006.

Today, I see a very good football team with a lot of room left to improve. Most of the main contributors are young. We perfomred better than Texas A&M against Rice. We spanked Michigan in, emotionally, one of the biggest match-ups we've had with them. We suffered a let-down and some serious adversity against Purdue, yet won by 2+ TDs.

I don't know that we're playoff caliber yet, but I think we could be soon. Maybe even this year.


I know the Right Kinda Guy stuff got mocked

by omahadomer, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:01 @ Jay

but Kelly seems to really have an idea of what he wants and it doesn't depend entirely on having all 5-star and 4-star recruits. Golson, Hanratty and McDaniel were 3-star guys. Tuitt was a 5-star whose production never quite matched his potential and the other was Ishaq. In 2012 the only 5-star was Kiel. That class had a bunch of 4-star players who were or are important players -- Russell and Jones notably. Prosise and Brown were both 3-star recruits and Prosise in particular is an important part of the offense. The 2013 class was the best one on paper and it does have some fantastic players. Jaylon was a 5-star player who's actually playing like it. Bryant is a 5-star with that ability, but wasn't as quick to pick up on the offense as Folston (a mere 4-star). Zaire looks like he's going to be very good. Redfield is a fantastic talent (5-star) as is Cole Luke (4-star). It's too early on the frosh, but Trumbetti and Tranquill look like they can play a bit of football.

I have to say, this group looks more like a team than anything I can remember since the 1993 team. That doesn't mean they'll be as good, but finally the parts are starting to match. We've all gotten so used to seeing ND play below its apparent talent level, and getting pushed around by teams full of players who wouldn't have gotten a sniff from us, that it almost hasn't occurred to us that we can be on the other side of that equation.

Michigan State has been a vastly better program than Michigan over the last five years, but MSU's roster is dominated by 3-star players, and they probably have as many 2-star as 4-star players. If you look at Michigan's 2011 and 2012 classes, on paper they are vastly better than MSU's and probably better than ours. But the pieces don't match.

I have been saying for awhile that if we could get a coach to stay into his 6th year we might have something. Since that godawful loss to Tulsa in his first year, Kelly is 36-10. That's a .783 win rate, which is better than Holtz's .765 or Devine's .764. Kelly's overall win rate of .727 is in that neighborhood. We haven't had a coach since Holtz who could better .583.


Who are Kelly's biggest duds as recruits?

by Mike (bart), Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:28 @ omahadomer

There haven't been many, the only true busts have been the guys who washed out:

Lynch, Vanderdoes, Neal, Kiel, Shepard

Of the guys who stayed, I'll hazard a few guesses, but few if any guys who could be fairly termed busts:

GAIII - still obviously contributed during his time here
Hounshell - couldn't stay healthy
Koyack - not a 'miss', but not #1 TE in the country either

Just not a lot of fat on the roster. and the defection era gets a little farther in the rear view mirror each day


We're not counting the first class, right?

by JRT, Island of Misfit Toys, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:46 @ Mike (bart)

Kendall Moore, Lo Wood, Cam Roberson, Andrew Hendrix et al?


We should count the kids recruited by Kelly:

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:55 @ JRT



That you even have Koyack on that list

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:10 @ Mike (bart)

is an indicator that there are hardly any duds. Mainly because he's, you know, not.

But no list would be complete without everyone's favorite RKG whipping boy, Bruce Heggie, who only stayed on the team four years, made the two deep, and graduated.


I was mainly trying to go relative to hype

by Mike (bart), Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:12 @ Jack

It's weird that the guys who didn't work out tended to leave rather than linger. Probably for the best all the way around


True. And since you brought up Kiel

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:15 @ Mike (bart)
edited by Jack, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:19

In the short run it hurt that he left, because then Golson got suspended, and, you know.

But in the long run it may have worked out the best for everyone, including Kiel.

He did look great the other night. But had he stayed it would have been an instant quarterback controversy at best, and could have been a lot worse, and I think Kiel is far better suited to a Tuberville offense than a Kelly offense. As rough as last year was, maybe letting Tommy be Tommy and enduring it worked out best in the long run. A thought also occurred to me regarding offensive fit - Kiel might have done really well at LSU had it been about 500 miles north.

Sometimes a plan just comes together even when it isn't a plan.


great post as always; on Tulsa

by JD in Portland ⌂, Portland OR, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:11 @ omahadomer

I overlook that game. We cannot begin to comprehend the stress, pain, guilt, grief and fear the staff were in that wk.
And the players were shell shocked.
I will never view the outcome of that game as indicative of anything.
Not picking on you OD. Always love your posts, including this one, and agree with you. I'm really glad you are postings here.


The Tulsa game I had an empty feeling --

by omahadomer, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:33 @ JD in Portland

I was still expecting to beat them, but in retrospect maybe I shouldn't have been surprised.

People always point (correctly imo) to Holtz's 1986 win over USC as the critical turning point. For Kelly it's the 2010 USC game. I fully expected us to get our butts kicked, be 6-6, limp into some bowl we didn't deserve and be 6-7. Instead, despite turning the ball over four times in the rain and losing the lead after being up 13-3 we went on a clutch drive for the ages and saved it with a clutch interception by Smith. Then we laid out Miami in a bowl game and I was about the most happy 8-5 camper possible. The next year wasn't all I hoped but the Crist/Rees thing did't help and -- in retrospect -- saving a year on Golson didn't save a year because of his academic issues.

Yes, we got our butts kicked by Bama on NYD 2013 but we were in the big game. At least we are back to winning the minor bowl games when we get there and the next big step really is to win one of the big games. One thing I'll say for the four-team playoff is that if you win a semi-final game but lose the finals, at the very least you shouldn't have to endure people saying you didn't deserve to be in the finals.

We also haven't had the best of luck on match-ups. In 2012 had KSU kept its shit together we would have played them (and probably won). People would have bitched that the SEC champ was better (and been right) but nobody cares down the line. Had OSU picked another year to put itself on probation other than 2012 we would have played OSU instead of Bama, and very well could have won that game.


Kelly's forgotten masterpiece

by oaknd1 ⌂, Notre Dame, Monday, September 15, 2014, 16:29 @ omahadomer

You can point to USC 2010 as the turning point, but I will always consider it to be the Utah game. There are no words to describe just how far from my expectations the result of that game was. After getting beaten soundly by navy and with faith and hope at a low ebb, BK and company played Utah, 8-1 (?) at the time, like a Stradivarius. Willingham era teams would have lost that game by two touchdowns.

And I would argue that without that result, the USC game would not have gone nearly as well for Notre dame.

It's really pathetic when someone includes a link to their Twitter profile in their signature.


I remember calling Jay the week of that game

by Mike (bart), Monday, September 15, 2014, 16:45 @ oaknd1

to go over the basics of expanding the scope of TPG, since ND Football probably wasn't going to be a healthful enough topic to sustain it's own message board.

Thankfully we won, and then someone green lighted the first six Avengers movies.


The blocked punt

by CK08, Monday, September 15, 2014, 16:39 @ oaknd1

My wife and I had just gotten engaged the night before, and we had field seats right in front of where that happened.

I'm not sure who Blanton was pointing at when he scored, but I like to think it was us.



by Crehart @, Hermosa Beach, CA, Monday, September 15, 2014, 16:30 @ oaknd1

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I wonder what odds you would have gotten...

by FunkDoctorSpock, Your Nightmares, B* tches, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:18 @ JD in Portland

if you had bet ND would follow up Tulsa (which made us 20-26 since 2007) with an overall record of 36-10 thru last Saturday?


Regarding Michigan State as well

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:11 @ omahadomer

Time and again you're hearing about how Dantonio is doing so well with lesser ranked talent.

Yes, he is, but to your last point it sure as hell didn't happen overnight. It took him four years to get there, they didn't win a bowl until his fifth season after getting their clocks cleaned by Alabama in the bowl the previous year - even worse than we did in 2012 - and in his 6th they were 7-6.

It took him 7 years to be an overnight success.


I live in Hokie country

by HCE, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:00 @ Jay

People are walking around like they just got punched in the gut. I lived in Iowa last year, where they pay Ferentz $4 million to go 8-4 and lose the Outback bowl. Before that, I was in Pennsylvania when the Sandusky scandal broke; before that, pre-Big 10 Maryland when their broke athletic department hired Randy Edsall to the rousing response of no one giving a crap.

This team might be a work in progress, but it's talented, fun, and loaded with potential. As I like to remind myself, our problems are first world problems.


We need a sleeper cell program

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:17 @ HCE

A couple months in LA, a semester in Eugene, a few vacations to Tallahassee, Palo Alto and Ann Arbor.


Please never move to South Bend

by PootND ⌂ @, Jersey City, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:10 @ HCE

[ No text ]


Have you ever considered moving to Tuscaloosa?

by irishvol @, Music City, USA, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:06 @ HCE

[ No text ]


I'm really excited about the short and medium term future

by CK08, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:44 @ Jay

We're 3-0, ranked No. 9, and we have an opportunity to make a run to the playoff. Even if we don't, we are likely to remain in the conversation until at least late October, and we're almost certain to end up in a big boy bowl game against a fun opponent.

Next year, we will return 20 (!!) starters and have a manageable, yet fun, schedule. The expectation next year should be to make the playoff.

In 2016, we lose Golson and have a tougher schedule, but that is the year that I think we will establish ourselves as a program that reloads rather than rebuilds.

After that, my expectation is 10+ win seasons against an interesting array of teams (Georgia, ACC schools, mixing in our old B1G friends) until Kelly leaves, which I assume will be some time around 2020. Not sure if we'll win a championship, but football will be fun.

After that? Not sure. Maybe head coach Chuck Martin with OC Tommy Rees. Or football might not even exist.


God, I hope it's not Chuck Martin

by scriptcomesfirst @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:50 @ CK08

I know I'm in the minority but I'm not a fan.


Watching Miami this weekend, I sorta agree.

by PAK, Monday, September 15, 2014, 18:16 @ scriptcomesfirst

It wasn't the talent gap or that they lost - he actually has them playing well above their heads right now - it's just that everything infuriating about our offense over the last few years was on display.

Pre-snap penalties.
QBs looking to the sidelines instead of reading the defense.
Lack of anything resembling a sustained drive.
Zero running game.

Whereas now, with Kelly back at the reins, those problems seem to be gone. It didn't really convince me that Martin was part of the problem but it certainly made me think. I'm not big on coincidences.


One game at a time

by Mark, Cloud City, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:34 @ Jay

I'm pleased as a peach.

ND beat the snot out of Michigan. The entire rest of this season is all icing, imo.

I'd like to see ND go on a run of 10+ wins/season (a la Bama or OU or Coach Holtz ND from 1988-1993).

I think ND has the depth and the coaching to do that. I'm not too worried about the OL, there's good talent, and they'll get there. I'm pleased that Brian Kelly teams seem to play better in November than in September.

I think there's quality depth at most positions and as a result I think ND should be very good for several seasons in a row now. Hopefully one of those seasons ND will win it all.

My only other caveat is that I'd like to see ND finish some seasons +200 in point differential, with an occasional +250 season in there.


On September/November

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:08 @ Mark

It is generally accepted that Kelly plays better in November than in September, with the conclusion being that his teams improve as the season progresses, presumably more than other coaches' teams.

Has anyone ever checked the numbers? ND's November schedule is traditionally easier than the September or October schedule, and just looking at the wins and losses doesn't particularly paint a obvious picture (I'll do first four last four for consistency):

2010 1-3 vs 3-1 : advantage November
2011 2-2 vs 3-1 : advantage November
2012 4-0 vs 4-0 : tie*
2013 3-1 vs 2-2 : advantage September

* the offense was clearly better at the end of 2012 than the beginning, but the defense didn't seem much better (and might have been worse - Pitt '12). Is this a RS freshman QB gaining experience or a coaching trend?

At night, the ice weasels come.


Given that we're +78 after 3 games, this might be your year

by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:58 @ Mark

[ No text ]

Listen to the voice of Life, and you will hear Life crying, "Be!"


What would Kelly's tenure look like

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:34 @ Jay

if, for 3 of his first 4 years at Notre Dame, Kelly had a better option at QB than Tommy Rees (who yes, great guy, ND guy, etc)?


I have no doubt everyone on this board is a great ND guy

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:01 @ Jim (fisherj08)
edited by Jack, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:04

Yes, even Slainte Joe.

But I wouldn't want any of you mopes to play quarterback for the Irish.

There is not a doubt in my mind that last year we'd have had no more that 2 losses and 2011 would have been better as well.

The first year was the first year. I think that's the "normal" type of opening year for a new coach, painful as it was.


"Next man in"... more than just a pretty phrase.

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:33 @ Jay

I've been really impressed with how this staff has guys ready to play in 'next man in' situations. It's obvious that even the backups are getting repped enough in practice to know what's going on and being kept engaged enough to invest themselves in being ready when the time comes. I don't think that's easy to do with kids this age. But almost always, our next man in is able to make the contribution that they're expected to make.


yes, it's remarkable

by JD in Portland ⌂, Portland OR, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:18 @ Bill

I'm still impressed they had Russell so ready to go in 2012. That was bcz Lo Wood got hurt IIRC.


I think we've been a Top Ten level program since...

by FunkDoctorSpock, Your Nightmares, B* tches, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:31 @ Jay

the 2011 lost to Michigan in Ann Arbor. 32-8 overall, 17-2 at home, an undefeated regular season, a Top Five finish/BCS Championship game appearance, etc.


mine, overall very good

by JD in Portland ⌂, Portland OR, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:17 @ Jay

Leadership/stability: BK is an excellent CEO; and he's in synch with and has strong support from King Jack who is best AD in country.
Staff: overall very good, though OC illness was a tough break. Every time there's an opportunity for new hire, BK upgrades - HH, BVG, MLaF.
Recruiting: very good. Doing an excellent job at talent evaluation and aggressively pursuing superstars too. Well organized and starting early on kids. Entire staff working hard.
"Getting ND" - especially high marks here. We're bringing in great kids, and they and the coaches represent ND well. And yes, there's been academic issues but we face them head on. Golson's return says a lot about him and the state of program. Overall, BK has greatly enhanced the ND football brand.
Conditioning: very good, so much improved from Ty/Weis yrs.
QB: the most important position is finally restocked after bare cupboard we started with and impact of Golson suspension coupled with Kiel sudden exit. "Fans" who suggested that Golson's absence didn't matter last yr really look like complete idiots now, though they did last yr too.
Player development: excellent. Next man in, etc.
Team chemistry: excellent.
Overall, I'm not sure how I could be happier. We've come so far. Future looks incredibly bright, unless i suppose you can only stomach Woody Hayes-style Manball!, that vintage run first second and always offense that all today's top athletes and the NFL are clamoring for.


Definitely some holes on this team, but things look good.

by Kevin @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:11 @ Jay

QB: In good shape, set up well going forward. Golson has played as well as anyone in the country so far, especially considering the inconsistent play from his WRs. If he had Daniels, he'd really be cooking.

WR: Not sure what to make of this group. So far, some great plays, but too many drops. No one is stepping up as the #1, as Fuller still has to clean up his play. I really miss TJ Jones.

RB: In good shape now and future. Running game is a mess. The Purdue game was a shitshow of mistakes and poorly developing plays.

OL: Absent a lot of flops under a very good OL coach, this will be fine in the future, but I don't think we appreciated the impact of losing Martin and Watt, and the injuries are killing us, too. The other guy we miss a ton is Niklas.

DL: Love Jarron Jones. Always knew he'd be worth a shit as a college player. (whistles innocently) Day is excellent, too. ND has taken some fliers at DT, but some of those guys have good offers. Concerned about DE in the immediate term, but love Trumbetti already, and encouraged from what I've seen of Kolin Hill. Williams and Bonner are also in line to start playing, but we need to keep loading up, in the 2015 class.

LB: ND probably has just one year left with Jaylon Smith, a first-team all-SEC talent if we've ever had one. Jesus. Schmidt has been excellent, and when someone like Tranquill pans out, that's just house money for everyone. (Realizing Tranquill is tough to slot in any one position) Nyles Morgan and Deeb are still in line, with Barajas in the 2015 class.

DB: Seems pleasantly OK for now, but the future is still cloudy. We need Russell and Collinsworth back, and Riggs is gone after this year. Devin Butler's play against Purdue was encouraging. So many near-misses on the recruiting trail, but there's still time to add a big name to a 2015 list that already includes Shaun Crawford. It is thrilling and wonderful to see Farley playing well. He'll be back next year.

The staff is strong. Hiestand and Van Gorder were very good mid-run hires, and Alford has always been important to ND. I do think the team needs more or better focus on the running game -- the execution has been very sloppy. In both 2012 and so far this year, the secondary was way, way better than expected. The DL has also been excellent so far.

To over-extrapolate from the Michigan game, I think ND has as much speed and attitude as they've had in a long time. They're still very green, and the inability to run may topple us this season, but I'm pretty happy with where we're at and where we're going.


Kelly's building something here

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:07 @ Jay

It probably took a bit longer than he would have preferred, and he's had a few unanticipated stumbles along the way, but the roster is probably (for the first time) comprised of the types of guys he thinks he can take on a few playoff runs over the next few years.

He's got 3 QBs on the roster who have the type of run-pass skills he's looking for. He's starting to get the body types at WR (both inside and outside) that can take the passing game to the level he wants it. He's made a smooth transition from DCs, and now can play a more aggressive/attacking style on that side of the ball.

I'm a bit surprised he hasn't consistently landed Top 5 recruiting classes. But then you look at last year's class, generally thought of as "middling" by ND's standards, and see all these freshmen contributing, with some of the most talented kids in the class (Nelson, Weishar, Hayes) potentially headed for redshirts. Kelly knows what he's looking for, and I think he's earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the guys he identifies on the recruiting trail.

There's always going to be a subset of ND fans that hate him for various reasons (running game, perceived arrogance, etc.), but if we assume he'll end up spending 10-12 years in South Bend, I'd be surprised if we don't find a way to make it into the playoffs 2 or 3 times (at least) over the next 6-7 years or so. Maybe he won't win one, but by the end of his time here, I doubt anyone would be able to say he didn't leave the program in a hell of a lot better shape than he found it.


re: "Top 5" recruiting classes

by Mo, Charlotte, NC, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:06 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

I think the reason we haven't seen this, for the most part, is that there are just too many kids out there who don't give a rat's ass about academics. Kids know (especially with the recent academic issues on the team) that, if they go to ND, they need to go to class. A lot of them just don't want to do that.

If we build a perenniel top-10 program, Kelly deserves anything he gets because, quite frankly, we end up recruiting from a much smaller pool than 95% of the teams in the Power 5 conferences.


Still not convinced Kelly can win the big game consistently

by beattherush @, Chicago, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:03 @ Jay
edited by beattherush, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:10

However, I am much more on the fence after seeing 2014. It's probably worth seeing it through to January 2016, barring an absolute collapse to 8-4 or something. We ought to be at least a playoff team in 2015 given what we have seen so far and the age of the team.

In 2013 I would have considered replacements. I would have replaced Kelly if a quality candidate had been available (probably Charlie Strong).

I am now cautiously optimistic that I will be proven dead wrong in 2013.

The overall program though is in much better shape. I have confidence in Swarbrick and Jenkins to continue our improvement trend since Jenkins came in. I don't agree with every decision they have made but they have navigated a difficult landscape well.

Side note: I think all the stuff about Kelly's personality is completely irrelevant, including the NFL, his press conferences, his sideline demeanor, and his handling of alumni. As long as he is not actively subverting our academics or riding around on motorcycles with coeds, he's fine by me. Coaches don't have to be saints.


"Win the big game consistently"

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Monday, September 15, 2014, 18:35 @ beattherush

I'm not sure how you define "big game" or "consistently," but I think that is an unreasonable expectation. Saban has probably the best record in this category, but I don't know who else in the last 20-30 years was able to play .800 or better football against elite competition (I'm not even sure Saban has).

At night, the ice weasels come.


Saban's "big game" record

by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:31 @ Jeff (BGS)

I agree, "big game" is a pretty nebulous term.

Here are Saban's year-by-year records, including bowl games. There's some pretty impressive work in there, but then again a lot of the ranked teams he faces are SEC teams who also don't play much quality OOC competition, so it's a little hard to gauge.

Taking it as "teams ranked at game time":

Overall: 28-12
2007: 2-3
2008: 3-2
2009: 6-0 (NC year)
2010: 5-3
2011: 4-1 (NC year, rematch with LSU)
2012: 5-1 (NC year)
2013: 3-2

Taking it as "OOC teams ranked at game time" - note that in seven seasons, Alabama has played ten ranked OOC teams, including bowl games:

Overall: 8-2
2007: 0-0
2008: 1-1
2009: 2-0
2010: 2-0
2011: 1-0
2012: 2-0
2013: 0-1

Taking it as "teams ranked in the top 10 at game time":

Overall: 13-7
2007: 0-1 (LSU)
2008: 2-2 (Clemson, Georgia, Florida, and Utah)
2009: 4-0 (Virginia Tech, LSU, Florida, Texas)
2010: 1-1 (Florida, Auburn)
2011: 1-1 (LSU, LSU)
2012: 4-0 (Michigan, LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame)
2013: 1-2 (Texas A&M, Auburn, Oklahoma)

Listen to the voice of Life, and you will hear Life crying, "Be!"


That last category seems the most illuminating.

by professor @, Tallahassee, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:35 @ Brendan

Another would be teams ranked in the top 10 or 15 at the end of the season.


Expanding on it...

by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 12:32 @ professor

Using "teams ranked at the end of the year" gives a better idea of the quality of team played, but less of an idea of the context at the time of the game. With that in mind...

2007: 1-3 (then-#16 Arkansas dropped out by the end of the year)
2008: 2-2 (preseason #9 Clemson was one of the top-10-at-game-time wins but finished the season unranked)
2009: 5-0 (NC year; only then-#22 South Carolina dropped out)
2010: 3-3 (then-#7 Florida finished unranked, and then-#10 Arkansas finished #12, which would take away two top 10 wins; then-#18 Penn State also dropped out)
2011: 2-1 (NC year; split two with LSU, then-#23 Penn State and then-#12 Florida dropped out)
2012: 3-1 (NC year; then-#8 Michigan and then-#13 Mississippi State dropped out, and then-#5 LSU finished at #14, taking away two more top-10-at-the-time wins)
2013: 3-1 (then-#21 Ole Miss dropped out, then-#6 Texas A&M finished #18, and then-#10 LSU finished #14, taking away two more top-10-at-the-time wins)

That's 19-11 (.633) against teams that finished the season ranked, which is good but not holy-shit good. Against teams ranked at the time of the game, he's 28-12 (.700), so about 1/3 of those wins came against teams that finished the season unranked.

If we drill down to teams that finished the season in the top 10, Saban's Alabama record goes from 13-7 (.650) to 8-10 (.444). Paints a somewhat different picture. Of course, even going 8-10 in 18 games against top 10 teams is pretty good, but it's not overwhelmingly dominant like the 13-7 number is.

Listen to the voice of Life, and you will hear Life crying, "Be!"


Strong? Seriously?

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:44 @ beattherush

[ No text ]


Please don't take this the wrong way

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:42 @ beattherush

But what were you expecting to see in 2013 after the Golson suspension that left you so dissatisfied? I am genuinely curious, not trying to be a dick.


No offense taken at all. In short: it was Year 4

by beattherush @, Chicago, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:50 @ CW (Rakes)
edited by beattherush, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:55

I empathize with Golson being unavailable, but at this point in the coaches' progression, the backup QB needs to be ready to go, and the gameplan needs to be ready to go that fits that QB's strengths and limitations.

Charlie had it right. 9-3 is not good enough. At some point the individual personnel issues, even at QB, become noise. Does Kelly have the program where it needs to be? Not yet, in my opinion. Although things look a heck of a lot better now than they did in 2013.

But our record against Michigan was 1-3, Stanford 1-3, Alabama 0-1 (emphatically), Oklahoma 1-1. MSU we've had some success and I guess we beat ASU. But looking at top teams, we were struggling.


Not to nit-pick too much

by Mo, Charlotte, NC, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:12 @ beattherush

But our backup WAS ready to go..... and then he transferred to Cincinnati.

Fans who are mad about last year need to realize that Rees would have been #3 last year had we kept our full stable of QBS. Yes, we went 9-4 with our 3rd-stringer.


Charlie also licked his finger and showed off an NFL ring

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:05 @ beattherush

Charlie was not always correct. And the more I think about it, the more I think that "9-3 isn't good enough" should be left in the locker room as a team rallying cry -- not as something internet posters use to support the position that a coach who doesn't give them their Oompa-Loompa now should be fired.


Has anyone compared records to others?

by Joe ⌂ @, North Endzone Goal Line, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:58 @ beattherush

Our success against MSU should count, as well as our success against USC (which, despite sanctions, has still been a dangerous team). Then we can think about the FSU/Miami type games, but I'm on the fence about that.

I think if you include the entire body of work, BK starts to hover around that .500 mark against major schools. I wonder how well that compares to others. I certainly wouldn't expect the same .750-type winning percentage that occurs against your entire schedule to hold true when looking at just the great teams -- so what is an acceptable number?


He's close to .500

by beattherush @, Chicago, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:50 @ Joe

I think against UM, MSU, USC, Stanford, Miami, FSU, ASU, OU and Alabama he is 11-11.

But some of those are better than others, and we have not fared all that well against the truly top-5 caliber teams. Plus, we've had spectacular implosions against UM and the one MSU loss.

How does that compare against other schools? Good question. Saban sure seems to have figured it out, but I am not sure how other schools would compare.

But to get to a national championship, the only real measure that interests me, I think we need a better record than that.


Um, we did get to a national championship

by KelleyCook @, quite pleased with Nov 8th, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:15 @ beattherush

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I'm not sure there is such evidence

by ndphilo @, Seal Beach, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:21 @ beattherush

(re: your subject line that is) - Or, better, I'm not sure what would generally be counted as evidence for other than actually doing the thing in question.

Same goes for winning a title. The only proof that one is capable of winning one is winning one.

Everything short of that is kind of a rorschach test, it seems to me, reveals more about the speaker than about the player/coach.


Beating FSU would work. So would giving Alabama a game.

by beattherush @, Chicago, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:33 @ ndphilo

I suppose beating MSU last year technically meets the definition... just doesn't feel like it given their ranking at the time.

Alabama just scared me. We had a long way to go in the little things that matter at the very top level: short yardage pickup, coverage teams, penalties. 2014 *looks* like improvement so far. I just want to see it against a top-tier team.

Looking forward to Stanford. I think that will be pretty indicative.


So beat the #1 team in the country consistently?

by Dylan, Santa Barbara, CA, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 08:47 @ beattherush

I don't need to tell you that that's an impossible standard for a bunch of reasons.

This argument gets circular pretty quickly. Any big game seems to become "less big" once we win it, a la MSU or OU.


ND did beat the #1 team last year

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 08:55 @ Dylan


OK, probably they would have ended up #2 behind FSU if ND hadn't beaten them, but that has to count as a big victory. IF ND hadn't beaten them, they would have been undefeated. That's the best win any team can get.

At night, the ice weasels come.


Oh, I agree 100%

by Dylan, Santa Barbara, CA, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 09:18 @ Jeff (BGS)

I think beating MSU was a big, big win. I'm just pointing out what I see as a fundamental logical problem with the "win big games" crowd. That no team we've beaten could have really been that good. After all, we beat them.


Exactly - beating such teams consistently

by ndphilo @, Seal Beach, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:39 @ beattherush

is the only real evidence.

The only real way to prove you can do it is to do it.

As you point out, there is some evidence to suggest the team is getting close to doing it, depending on how exactly you define it. But, until we beat good teams consistently, there is no real proof we can.


Stanford's been a legit program since 2010

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:36 @ beattherush

They beat the piss out of Kelly in his 1st year, but since then, we've been fairly competitive in all our games against them. Even in 2011 with Rees knocked out and playing against Andrew Freaking Luck we managed to keep things interesting into the 2nd half.

Kelly's consistent success against Dantonio is also pretty impressive IMO. Not to mention the fact that he's 3-1 against USC.

As far as in-game stuff goes, only the Alabama fiasco and his (prior to this season) struggles with Hoke have given pause since 2010.


UM 2011 damn near killed me

by beattherush @, Chicago, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:52 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

That is not easily forgiven.


tough case to make for replacement this offseason

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:14 @ beattherush

Overall record was good, one year removed from a national championship, turned in 9-4 with a backup QB, only in year 4 of the job. I think we would have been raked over the coals nationally if we had fired him, and we would have salted the fields for hiring anyone else thinking about taking the job. Tough sell.


You can't sell that.

by KGB, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:26 @ Jay

Not one year after an undefeated regular season and playing in the championship game, particularly given how long we wandered through the desert. A coach would have to completely lose his team and the program at large to put his job in jeopardy, and 9-4 with a crappy little bowl win doesn't qualify.

Mean Gene Chizik got there in two years, I guess. 14-0 to 8-5 to 3-9. 3-9 is much more defensible than 9-4. If ND ever established the right to fire a coach for a 9-win season, that chit was relinquished some time ago.


Exactly. It's far worse than Nebraska firing Frank Solich

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:32 @ KGB
edited by Jack, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:37

Solich couldn't beat ranked teams on the road, so there was at least some cause there, and the previous year they were a .500 team.

And that firing didn't exactly work out.


I agree it would have been a tough sell.

by beattherush @, Chicago, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:17 @ Jay

I trust Swarbrick to navigate that, and to not pull the trigger without a pretty good idea of who is coming in and that they would be an upgrade.

And, no, I have no delusions about the "upgrade" being Saban The difficulty of pulling a top coach from a top program is underestimated.


Picture-in-Picture: Recruiting

by Mike (bart), Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:58 @ Jay

I think it stands for recognition that this staff has done a really excellent job recruiting. Not just in winning their share of battles for highly sought after kids against the big boys, but in the more important process of figuring out who their guys are, going after them, getting them, and developing them. Very, very few wasted scholarships under this regime: if these coaches decide someone merits a scholarship, it's a safe bet that they're right.


if you told me

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:57 @ Jay

'Kelly is going to be here for five more years' I would sign up for that. I'm at the point where I'm more concerned with Kelly leaving than for him being out-and-out bad or even average.


good way to frame the question

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:03 @ HumanRobot

What's Kelly's VORP? At this stage it's probably quite high.

There are other coaches I like, but I think he has a good handle on ND, such that replacing him would cause more transition pain than would be worth it. And I can't identify anybody out there who would be a guaranteed improvement over him in all aspects of running ND (mission, recruiting, coaching, etc). In short, let's keep him.


The job is a packed minefield.

by Kevin @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:20 @ Jay

Lot of places to go wrong, for a good coach used to doing business elsewhere. Kelly said on that Notre Dame Reborn show that he's the poster child for learning from mistakes, and he's right. But I think just about anyone would've had a tough first few years, starting when he did.



by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:13 @ Jay

The only current college coach I'd definitely take over him is Saban. I would probably also take Meyer, but as you point out there's a certain "at least we know what Kelly looks like at ND" that we don't know about Urban.

Are Miles, Stoops, Malzahn, and Fisher great coaches? Hell yes. But the necessary meshing is enough of an issue that I'm more than happy with Kelly.


How is Meyer doing without his star quarterback?

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:39 @ HumanRobot

Kind of tells you something. And that isn't a dig at Meyer.


Maybe bias, but I think Saban would flop at ND

by JN @, Seattle, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:28 @ HumanRobot

[ No text ]


I don't think he would flop here.

by KGB, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:55 @ JN

I just don't think he would be interested in this job because of the degree of control that he would have to forfeit to the university. Perhaps there may have been a different point in his career when ND might have been appealing to him, but I suspect that window has long since closed. Alabama has spoiled the shit out of him, and barring some major personality conflict with a higher-up at the school, I'm not sure that I see him coaching anywhere else at all prior to retirement.


even Oil money couldn't get him to budge

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:07 @ KGB

[ No text ]


FWIW, I wouldn't take Saban or Meyer.

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:21 @ HumanRobot

Maybe it's just my bias against them, but I think they're slimy and wouldn't be willing to follow the ND rules. I do like Malzahn though, although I know nothing of his recruiting/coaching tactics. Regardless, I'm not sure anyone else would do any better than Kelly, so I hope he stays. I also must admit that I really like Kelly's offense.


Excellent post. And I'd argue that Swarbrick's VORP

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:07 @ Jay

is even higher than Kelly's.

I don't know if I'm more worried about who will coach ND after Kelly is gone or who the person will be who hires that next coach (since it sounds like Swarbrick probably wants to retire before Kelly is likely to be done at ND).


Losing Kelly to the NFL

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:09 @ BillyGoat

In the year after Jack hangs it up is my nightmare scenario.

I would think that Swarbrick will have some say in his successor, and might even retain some "emeritus" type level of activity after he's gone.


I think Swarbrick is definitely

by crazychester @, Chicago, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:20 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

going to have some big picture emeritus input.

I think he just wants out of the day to day and having to deal with Dave Brandon.


I'm hopeful Jack will be advising the process.

by Ken Fowler, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:15 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

[ No text ]


I know he keeps a call-up list

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:21 @ Ken Fowler

that involves check-ins with up and comers periodically. Chip Kelly received such a call in 2008 when he was still Bellotti's OC. I assume he would turn over some good ideas on a transition plan and a list of names to whomever replaces him as AD, and perhaps even some sustained progress with potential candidates.


Good Great Games Since 1993

by Mike (bart), Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:55 @ Jay

In the 21 years (!) since the 1993 season, we've gotten roughly 23 games that let us really feel good about ourselves as a program (even if they were fool's gold, at the time they could rightfully convince most fans that things were moving in a good direction). E.g., we've averaged about 1 high point per season, but of course the distribution has been lumpy:

95 Texas
96 Texas
97 LSU (?)
98 Michigan
98 LSU (?)
2002 Michigan
2002 MSU
2002 FSU
(2004 Michigan left off)
2005 Pitt
2005 Michigan
2005 USC
2006 Penn St.
2010 USC
2012 MSU
2012 UM
2012 Stanford
2012 Oklahoma
2012 USC
2013 MSU (retroactive, but still)
2013 ASU
2013 USC
2014 UM

Just under half (10 out of 22) those moments have occurred in the Kelly Era. What's more, of these 22 moments, 8 of them occurred in a coach's 1st year (when the optimism bent is naturally higher). Of the 14 non-"What A Difference a Coach Makes!" bright shining moments we've had, 9 of them have come since the start of the 2012 season (and 2 others were courtesy of Holtz).

For the first time in a long time, we probably seem like a power program in the eyes of current high school recruits (we're 32-10 (.761) during their high school careers). For the first time in an even longer time, lots of power programs would probably trade staffs, rosters and program trajectories with us, no questions asked.

for all the drama that seems to constantly surround the program, we've actually gotten ourselves firmly in the realm of the "Very Good," from a national perspective, and I would say we're trending up, if anything.


There were more good late era Holtz good games

by Flann, Central New Jersey, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:20 @ Mike (bart)

but we were used to them at that time and standards were higher. We beat pretty good UW teams in 95 and 96, winning in Seattle and by 34 in South Bend. We beat a top 5 USC team in '95. By later standards, where the 2005 USC game was a moral victory by showing we could go toe to toe with the game's top program, even the close losses to FSU in '94 and the Orange Bowl would qualify. I suppose the 2000 Nebraska game for Davie could qualify under that standard as well.

Overall Coaching records post 1994 vs. teams ranked at the time (top 10 in parenthesis):
Holtz 5-6-1 (2-6)
Davie 6-15 (1-7)
Willingham 7-8 (3-5)
Weis 4-12 (1-8)
Kelly 7-7 (2-3)

Post season ranking are a better tool to value the quality of the victory, but game time rankings better measure how the win feels at the time.


2006 MSU.

by Ken Fowler, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:01 @ Mike (bart)

I was never more satisfied with a win than that night, in a McDonald's parking lot, at 1 in the morning, asking if they had ketchup.


two 'where we've been' charts

by LaFortune Teller ⌂ @, South Bend, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:50 @ Jay




All I can say regarding that second chart is

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:29 @ LaFortune Teller

Thank God for Rich Rodriguez.


This is just a gut level response

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:49 @ Jay

But I find myself noticing the lads making types of plays now that were always absent in the past.

Like, I'd be watching some random game and after a play I'd think, "How come ND never does that?"

For example:
- Deep strikes against an inferior opponent (Rice), complete with foolish athleticism (Fuller)
- Man coverage pick on a quick throw (Riggs)
- God-created turnovers (Purdue guy fumbling near the goal line)
- Sacks made by swarm (numerous)
- QB making lots out of little (Golson, constantly)

This isn't sophisticated analysis, but I take it to mean our athleticism and speed continues to go in the right direction.


You know, I have had a couple of friends,

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:34 @ HullieAndMikes

ESSS EEE SEEEE fans no less tell me, "Looks like ya'll really have some athletes this year."


Yes. And I'll throw in TFLs by design and for more

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:51 @ HullieAndMikes

than a 2 yard loss.


We're in great shape

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:47 @ Jay

I think 9-4 with Tommy Rees at QB will go down as one of the great coaching jobs, especially when you consider 9-win teams that played a schedule similar to ours either had a QB who could A) Move or B) Had an arm that got him drafted to the NFL.

The bones of the program are very strong and now there is a strong line set up at QB, the most important position in college football. (I have no idea if Kizer can throw, but he is going to be a very large human playing that position in the future.) OL recruiting has been amazing (although results leaving a bit to be desired at this early point in 2014, plenty of room to improve and plenty of talented players to do it) and if the front seven freshmen are as good as they've looked through three games, we'll be fine there.

We will be in the playoffs next year (if Golson comes back). We might be in the conversation this year. We're 24-5 since the start of 2012. Things are good.


With a win over at team that finished in the Top 5

by FunkDoctorSpock, Your Nightmares, B* tches, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:24 @ CW (Rakes)

[ No text ]


I agree, and I'll add

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:14 @ CW (Rakes)

that this team seems to have more speed on both offense and defense than any I can remember, and I've watched ND for a long time. Given their youth, and continued outstanding recruiting, ND should be in good shape for a number of years to come.

As you note, finally having the right QBs for BK's system is going to be huge. I watched Golson, Zaire, and Kizer warming up prior to the Rice game. All three throw beautiful balls. I didn't realize Kizer was so big (6'5", 220 lbs). I hope he can run some.


in an alternate universe

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:18 @ oviedoirish

I'd like to see how Jimbo Fisher does at FSU with three years of Tommy Rees at QB.


Would have Winston played at ND this year given his

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, September 15, 2014, 14:26 @ HumanRobot

off field bs?



by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:24 @ HumanRobot

I'm still not convinced he's a great coach. But it's hard to lose with a guy like Winston at QB.


I'll agree with whatever omahadomer says

by Jack @, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:43 @ Jay
edited by Jack, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:53

That is only half in jest - his writeups on the games I think have been dead on.

Just a quick take. I think we have a lot to be excited about. Golson looks like the qb we've all been hoping for, and nothing in the Purdue game makes me any less excited. The guy hasn't even thrown a pick yet, among many other things. We were joking at the game about all the times we could say "Tommy Rees couldn't do that". As in, constantly. I said all last year that we would have had no more than one loss until the Stanford game with Golson at QB, and wouldn't have had the scares in the other games (with the exception maybe of Purdue). Not a doubt in my mind that we'd have beaten Michigan and Pitt. And we did beat the team that ended up ranked third in the country. Hell, I think we could have beaten Oklahoma, too. It absolutely amazes me that any football fans who supposedly know anything discount the paramount importance of the quarterback. What sport are they watching?

The defense with all kinds of guys playing who weren't supposed to is doing better than I had expected even had the suspended/injured players played. The return game is so much better it's practically beyond belief.

Not getting deep here at all, but the only other thing is I am certainly not going to get all nervous because we had our annual letdown against Purdue.


Agree w/all. And "our annual letdown against Purdue" is...

by Crehart @, Hermosa Beach, CA, Monday, September 15, 2014, 13:02 @ Jack

nothing new. I think you can probably chalk it up to the in-state rivalry and/or a "little brother" complex, but those guys are always hyper-motivated against us. We've had more than our share of close games against them even when we should crush them on paper. And even when we win by double-digits the games are always physical. I'm not going to pour through the historical injury reports but I wouldn't be surprised to find an above-average number of dings and dents against them. (Witness the injury report from yesterday!) My dad went to ND in the 50's ('56 undergrad and '59 law school) and he said their nickname for that game was the "Black & Blue Bowl." I went to ND during the Holtz years and although he never lost to the Boilers, those games were often brutally physical.

It's a game of emotion played by college kids. There are ups and downs. That's what makes it so fun/frustrating.

Like Omahadomer said, we did not play well and won by 16. That's nothing to discount.

I think the program is in great shape with Coach Kelly. He is building something at ND. I think we'd be further along if it hadn't been for some bad breaks well out of his control, but it never caused me to doubt him. The trajectory is excellent. We are in good hands.


Here for me

by DCT, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:39 @ Jay

I'm pretty far removed from the angst I felt after losing to Tulsa.

Instead of expecting for the worst things to happen.... I've started to trust that we're going to win.

Even when Purdue took that lead in the 2nd Q, I never felt the angst/whoa-is-us that I felt all too often.

I think the program is trending up, I think it is stable, and I believe Kelly is here for the long haul. We're now focusing on building depth and maintaining the talent base, where we used to worry about just getting a play maker or two.


I felt worse about the Michigan loss that year.

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:57 @ DCT

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