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Some things to think about with this bowl game

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:19

- We almost always get blown out in 'ranked vs ranked' matchups post Nov. 1. I think the average margin in these types of games since 1993 is like 41-17 or something

- Team looked bad at the end of the year. Lots of stuff on film about how to beat us.

- LSU finished the year hot, winning their last 3 games by 20+ points


- This isn't *that big* of a game. It is the 3rd or 4th biggest game of that day, it's an early afternoon start, and there aren't really any stakes, so the big game bugaboos hopefully won't descend on us too badly

- Team perhaps looked bad because they were worn down? The decline was pretty global, particularly in effort-intensive, small-margins-are-decisive stuff like red zone efficiency. Could have that toughness that we exhibited in October

- LSU's last 3 wins were over teams that all fired their coaches.


Anybody planning to travel for this?

by Mike (Max) @, Orlando, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 05:55 @ Mike (bart)

Maybe make a trip of the attractions and the bowl?

I can provide recommendations, although more in the vicinity of the bowl (near downtown Orlando) than the attractions.


I can help with some attractions

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 07:09 @ Mike (Max)

and restaurants.

Are you going to the game? I don't think I am. I went up for the NC State game, and given how the season ended I'm not sure that I care to see this one in a stadium. Been there, done that, so I think I'd rather watch on TV...unless someone has a skybox they'd like to share! :-)


I am not particularly excited about the game

by Mike (Max) @, Orlando, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 15:17 @ oviedoirish

but several friends and family members are going, including one who is hosting a tailgate, so sure, why not?


Pulling a couple of consensus points from this thread:

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:52 @ Mike (bart)

that would seem to obtain whether you want to play in my pop-psych sandbox or not:

- ND should manage the late season schedule better. We are certainly better served with a true bodybag game in November rather than elsewhere in the schedule. Navy, as of right now, is certainly not a bodybag game. Maybe look at a November bye week?

-We should stop self-reporting shit to the NCAA. It's a corrupt and garbage arbiter of conduct, and there is no additional virtue in ND trying to please an idiot governing body

- consider giving players the option to put themselves on 4 or 5 year degree plans? I know this is a red button issue in many quarters, but I don't know that I understand why. Any insight?


What is the standard course load for an ND student

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, December 04, 2017, 13:15 @ Mike (bart)

for a semester? Here at UCF, my sons' full load is 12 credit hours, and they are regular students. That seems perfectly fine to me, although I think that when I was at ND my minimum was 15 hours. If football players have to take 15 hours, then I think that should be reduced to 12.


looking it up

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 10:03 @ oviedoirish

The College of A&L requires 122 credit hours to graduate, which you wouldn't hit if you were taking 12 hours per semester (even with a summer class each year) in four years. So I think our guys are probably taking 15 on average.

Kelly mentioned this when floating the idea of taking 12 in the fall and making up the difference in the spring/summer.

There’s a “church and state” separation between athletics and academics, but Kelly has reached out to athletic director Jack Swarbrick and president the Rev. John I. Jenkins about potential changes. He says “transformative conversations” are occurring on the academic side. “Are there other ways to do it?” Kelly asks. “Can we cut back on credit hours? Instead of taking 15 [the current practice to start a semester], can we take 12 and make it up in the summer? Are there other course offerings that could come about and be offered in lieu of a specific class? Those are conversations that had never taken place.”


I always thought the standard was something like:

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 15:04 @ Jay





When a kid has the wherewithal to take 15 or even 18 instead of 12 and/or 15, he (or she in other sports) will graduate early and/or get a graduate degree.


15ish is normal for most ND students.

by PAK, Monday, December 04, 2017, 14:34 @ oviedoirish

I took as many as 18.5 my freshman year, but 3.5 of that came from labs, tutorial sessions, and phys ed. Engineering is a bitch. My average was much closer to 16, though. I had one semester of 12 and a few semesters of 15 credits.

I'd be surprised if football players take more than 12 a semester, especially in-season. They take a lot more summer courses than traditional ND students, who are almost never on campus during the summer.


I thought it was normal for in season football players

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 15:40 @ PAK

to take 12 and make it up in the summer.


carrying 12 is the NCAA requirement

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 14:58 @ PAK

I think I recall a lot of FB players carrying 15 so I think the ND expectation is 15.


Depends on what they are doing

by DEM, Chicago, Monday, December 04, 2017, 14:03 @ oviedoirish

A lot of the regular students (NARP' they are sometimes called in campus vernacular) are carrying either a dual major or a fairly significant minor that necessitates at least 15 credits and more often 18 (or more with labs involved). This despite many of these kids coming in with a not insignificant amount of AP credit (pre-2016 when those credits dissipated).

There are some really smart and driven kids at ND now. I know it sounds like an excuse but it is tough for athletes to seamlessly blend into the student body.....and that goes for just about all the sports not just football.


I doubt I'd fit in seamlessly now either,

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, December 04, 2017, 20:59 @ DEM

if I could get in at all. :-)


Agree on all of those.

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, December 04, 2017, 13:00 @ Mike (bart)

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other aspects where ND is at a competitive disadvantage

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:34 @ Mike (bart)

* no regional talent pool -- must recruit coast-to-coast

* high HS standards to qualify (eliminates much of the yearly recruiting pool from consideration)

* can't take JUCOs

* no bag man

* must go to class and carry a regular course load and remain academically eligible

* no fifth years without graduating (mentioned above)

* severe consequences for academic discipline

* low cupcake count; no true FCS cupcakes

* high travel schedule

* Navy

* weather

* South Bend

* girls


Friendly amendment

by JD in Portland ⌂, Portland OR, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:47 @ Jay

I’m not sure it’s South Bend or wven weather per se. Plenty of places have just as bad of weather- UM, PSU, WI etc.
I’d put it more on the overall isolated campus, monastic campus dorm culture, and limited social life. And to be clear, I loathe athletic dorms and fancy apartments for athletes. ND is what it is.
The biggest factor of all may be the lack of cultural diversity.
Overall, it’s a tough adjustment for African-Americans. And that we can improve


just to be clear about my inclusion of "South Bend"

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 09:09 @ JD in Portland

I think South Bend is a fine city for residents and families and definitely seems like it's going through a bit of a renaissance which is great. But in terms of recruiting football players it's no college town on par with many of our competitors.

And I totally agree with your remark on diversity. It's interesting that the overall ethnic diversity at ND is now on par with the national average (better than when I was there), but juxtaposed with a UF or a Michigan or a Texas or even a USC there's no comparison. We're almost 70% white.


But ND's relative whiteness

by DEM, Chicago, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 14:29 @ Jay

comes at the expense of an underrepresented asian population.

While the graphs showing that ND has one of the proportionally highest white student populations among top colleges, it has one of the smallest asian populations. When you add the two together you're generally going to get about 70/75% of the student body. Granted this is for the Ivies and other top national universities. Also for the record....Alabama is 80% whitea s opposed to 73% for ND.


Isolated campus?

by mkmcfrlnd, Monday, December 04, 2017, 16:03 @ JD in Portland

Have you ever been to State College?


Never been there; too dangerous

by JD in Portland ⌂, Portland OR, Monday, December 04, 2017, 22:21 @ mkmcfrlnd

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Town is isolated. But college is the center of town.

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, December 04, 2017, 17:39 @ mkmcfrlnd

At ND - and I know ESC is making this better but there needs to be a lot more before it is mediocre - once you get to town ND is still on the outskirts with limited "college town" feel. Looking at State College on Google Maps, the PSU main building faces a quad that is bordered on the other end by "College Ave" and a bunch of businesses and restaurants. Much less isolated than ND.


"Town" is all there is

by mkmcfrlnd, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 06:07 @ Greg's a veritable oasis in the middle of nothing. Central PA is mind numbingly boring.

Source: My wife attended college 26 miles away. There's a prison in between that and State College, and nothing else. It's incredible what a void of nothing the entire area is compared to Eastern PA.


I think the notion that ND is in a worse spot

by KGB, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 08:57 @ mkmcfrlnd
edited by KGB, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 09:06

relative to dozens of other schools with decent-to-good football programs across the country is a bit myopic. Weather and composition of the student body might be a different story in some instances.


I think we have a lot of aspects that favor us over...

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 09:36 @ KGB

dozens of other schools with decent-to-good football programs across the country.

Where we fall short is in battling the ten or so programs that are absolute ass-kickers -- Alabama, OSU, USC, FSU, Clemson, etc. If we were willing to simply consider ND's fortunes vis-a-vis decent-to-good programs then I think our infrastructure, our commitment of funds, our existing personnel, and our results would all be acceptable. But if we're going to say that we should be battling those top programs on the field year in and year out (instead of having the type of rise-and-fall run that Kelly has had) then we have to acknowledge that they have a number of advantages we can't replicate (location/weather). Or in some cases refuse to replicate (coursework). Or in other cases are trying to replicate but really are not there yet (college town atmosphere).


we have some powerful competitive advantages too

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 09:11 @ KGB

but I think overall we're operating at a higher degree of difficulty than any of your final four playoff programs this year, for example.


a couple more that come to mind, Alabama-style

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:54 @ Jay

* greyshirting

* ruthless use of medical discharges in roster management

* use of ex-pro players on scout teams (I guess we could do this, but we don't)


Back in the day, I believe

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, December 04, 2017, 13:10 @ Jay

the Blue-Gold game was the ND team vs ND alumni. That could have been quite a game, although maybe not so good for the team with pros playing against them?


How did each one of those

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:41 @ Jay

factors change (for the better, worse or not at all) since the early 90's and before.

Loaded Q!



by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:59 @ Grantland

I think a lot of these developments are recent ("recent" being over the last forty years), say post-Ara Parseghian. The JUCO pipeline is new, developed as a reaction to higher academic qualification standards across the board. Black kids started playing for division 1 schools. TV money poured in, perverting incentives everywhere. Scholarship limits handcuffed football factories and created a broader playing field for everyone. Phil Knight started doing his thing.


Have general demographics changed as well?

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:07 @ Jay

For instance, there are just more people in the South than there used to ne?


since the ND glory days, absolutely

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:11 @ Grantland



Interesting on the "Post War" title

by Jack @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:37 @ Jay
edited by Jack, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:43

I think one thing that is sometimes not noted is how pre-war and especially during the war the migration was south to north. It would be interesting to see that map from, say, the onset of the Great Depression forward.

But more importantly, why are people moving to Wisconsin?

The cheese stands alone.


Mars Cheese Castle and Summerfest

by Albie, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:42 @ Jack

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I think you nailed it. And don't forget supper clubs

by Jack @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:45 @ Albie
edited by Jack, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:50

Like New Jersey has diners, Wisconsin has supper clubs.

By the way, 49 states serve an Old Fashioned with bourbon, but Wisconsin uses brandy.

It's weird place.

Re: Summerfest, it really is a blast, and the ethnic fests on the grounds all summer are as well.


ironically, we probably started the escalation of the TV$$$

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:02 @ Jay

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The emergence of Stanford

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:57 @ Grantland

can't really be discounted here. There's a fixed set of kids every year who actually do care about academics and the two best schools for that are Notre Dame and Stanford.

Now, when a kid actually cares about academics, he can choose between trudging through the snow OR hanging out a stone's throw away from the modern capitalist paradise of Silicon Valley, where the entire population is full of Stanford grads. It isn't really a fair competition.


Which is why we really need to start beating them

by BPH, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:19 @ Jim (fisherj08)

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I would dispute 1, 4, 10 and 12

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:39 @ Jay

We have more than enough to win on every front: Indiana is not a bad state for talent if you can put a fence around it, I'm certain we have bagmen to one extent or another, other teams succeed in the Midwest, ND has more than enough to offer a young man about town in the opposite sex department. Also, South Bend is changing quite a bit every few years, both around campus and in general


bag men

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:47 @ Mike (bart)

I honestly don't think we have them, at least not operating on the flagrant and egregious level as other programs. I refer you to the Leo Lewis story from earlier in the year.

I don't think we provide cars, jobs, mortgages, rent-free housing, off-the-books benefits to family members, or blow jobs like other schools do.


Your point on talent in Indiana is incorrect.

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:43 @ Mike (bart)

I'd also note that while South Bend is a perfectly nice town there's a clear, stark difference between a dorm party full of a bunch of nerds from Catholic schools outside Chicago and a frat party in Columbus.


it punches above it's weight and is improving

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:55 @ Jim (fisherj08)

here's a thread we had on it a couple of years ago:

I assume it still holds up or that trends have continued


Take a look at the top 247 recruits here

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:58 @ Mike (bart)

I'm not saying we have it as easy as Georgia or Florida

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:02 @ Jim (fisherj08)

I'm just saying that we actually have a nice building block there if we could nail it down. We could certainly do as well with in state talent as Wisconsin does, if not better. It'd be a great start, and I think we have done job, but should be a focus of improvement, I think


We tried to get the best recruit in Indiana

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:04 @ Mike (bart)

we got him to commit, in fact. Then he couldn't get in.


It still probably only gets us 2-3 guys a year

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:03 @ Mike (bart)

That turn into multi-year starters.


2-3 multi-year starters a year is a great base

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:09 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

you're basically filling up one platoon


The better argument for recruiting

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:46 @ Jim (fisherj08)

Is that we're a regional flight away from some pretty good recruiting areas where we have built-in advantages. And even if we don't get the best of the best from those areas, there's enough talent there to sustain several good to great programs.


the region is absolutely a competitive disadvantage

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:42 @ Mike (bart)

It's not Florida, Texas, or California. It's the greater Michiana metropolitan area -- Alive With Pride!


for what? for talent? for coaching?

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:43 @ Jay

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by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:44 @ Mike (bart)

There's a reason FSU, Florida, and Miami can field a team with 90% players from their home state/region, and we can't.


Even with our recruiting hits in the south and west

by KGB, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:29 @ Jay

there's still plenty of fallout after the LOIs are signed. Anecdotally, it seems like our washout rate is higher with those kids than the commits from other parts of the country. Our recent track record in California, in particular, is really lousy. Having kids come here only to transfer a year or two later is a drag on resources and does nothing to advance the program.

And as long as we're talking about shortcomings in November, consider the impact of luring kids hundreds if not a thousand-plus miles away from the warm-weather environments in which they grew up. Getting into the grind of November entails the expected ND classload but now you're also out of your element, far away from family and dealing with colder weather (and probably less sunshine) than you're accustomed to on a daily basis. That may not make any difference for some players, but it may very well for others.

None of this excuses Kelly, and other coaches like Urb and Harbaugh have to deal with similar. But it's a data point in the larger picture when your entire m.o. is recruiting on a legitimately national basis.


travel is an underrated issue too

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 11:45 @ KGB

Look at Clemson. Their two longest trips were to Louisville and to Syracuse. Other than that, had to go to Blacksburg, Raleigh, and Columbia. The other 7 were at home.

Oklahoma traveled to Columbus. Other than that: Waco, KSU & Kansas, Stillwater.

Alabama presumably flew to Atlanta and Texas A&M, then had bus trips to Vandy (250 mi), Starkville (80 mi), and Auburn (150 mi). None back to back, and a scrimmage against Mercer between the two "road trips" to Miss State and Auburn.

Meanwhile, we're going to Boston (900 mi), Lansing (150 mi), Chapel Hill (700 mi), Miami (1300 mi), and Palo Alto (2300 mi).


Miami and Palo Alto in November.

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:21 @ Jay

Clemson did not leave the Carolinas in November or for the ACC game in Dec.


This is a few years old

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:51 @ Jay

But it gives you an idea of the disadvantages of being in beautiful northern Indiana versus the base for the SEC/ACC:


Lack of a cooling glove

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:39 @ Jay

Or whatever you want to call that


* Catholic/Non-Diverse student body

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:35 @ Jay

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Do you all think weather could be a contributing factor?

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:25 @ Mike (bart)

I know there are obvious examples to contradict this (tOSU) but the weather used to get on my nerves a bit. Prolly not really until the Spring, however, I always hated that one game in November that just sucked. Purdue was one of the 4 when I was there - I don't really remember the others.


To steal from some HR theory

by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:52 @ Grantland

I'd guess that it's primarily a hygiene factor, not a motivator. As in, if all or most of the motivators are met it won't matter, but if not it could be an issue.

It's probably very difficult to generalize these - there are kids for whom distance, for example, might trump winning, like recent NC State commit Payton Wilson - but I'd guess for the majority of recruits it breaks down something like this...

Motivators: Winning, NFL development, relationship w/ position coaches, potential for fame/recognition, academic potential (for some), tradition (for some)

Hygiene factors: Weather, girls, facilities, distance, relationship w/ head coach, academic potential (for others)

And so on.

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


I'd also like to see ND "recruit" grad transfers

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:22 @ Mike (bart)

I don't think this needs to be done on a massive scale, but there is a real advantage to spending your fifth year at ND pursing a graduate degree and playing football. I'd love to see ND bring in a couple of "all-MAC" caliber players that aren't quite ready for the NFL (and might never be), but could fill some holes or provide some depth on the roster.

Maybe those players are scarcer than I think, but this is a place that ND should have a significant advantage over other schools.

At night, the ice weasels come.



by BPH, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:32 @ Jeff (BGS)

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Cody Riggs and Cam Smith seemed recruited

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:24 @ Jeff (BGS)

I agree we should do it more.


I very much support a lighter course load in the fall

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:08 @ Mike (bart)

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I do think easing the 4-year graduation requirement

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:03 @ Mike (bart)

would help, especially for players that have a redshirt year under their belts and a fifth year of eligibility. And I don't think ND would lose anything by allowing players to finish their undergraduate degree in their fifth year rather than take graduate level courses.

It would really ease an otherwise challenging academic load.

Do Stanford, Northwestern, USC require a 4-year graduation path?


To my knowledge, they do not.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:32 @ Bill

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This is the bowl game we earned

by CK08, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:00 @ Mike (bart)

New Year's Day, but not NY6. I was worried we'd sneak into the NY6 for money reasons and get clobbered, or fall all the way down to a third tier bowl against a 7-5 team.

But this is the right matchup. A good but flawed team, just like us.


Total agreement with this.

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:19 @ CK08

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BK made mention of mental fatigue in his presser yesterday

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:51 @ Mike (bart)

Q. You mentioned the injuries in 2014, and maybe getting a little worn down here this past November?

BRIAN KELLY: Let me, if I could, clarify that. I don't think we were worn down physically. I think we were worn down emotionally and mentally.

Q. That's what was leading into my next question. Whether you've had or will have a conversation with Matt Balis as it pertains to that, or do you not think that's what it is --

BRIAN KELLY: No, I think we were really good. We'll continue to make strides physically. There were no questions about where we were physically as a football team. We were emotionally and mentally -- we had a long year.

I remember addressing the team before the Monday of the Stanford week with so much on the line and a 10th win and a New Year's six, and it looked like they were in biology class. They were staring at me like, Really? There was no juice, there was no excitement. And they were tired. They were tired mentally.

It's a long year, and I've got to do a better job of pacing that out for them.

Q. That's what I was going to ask you also. What can you do to alleviate some of that mental burden on them?

BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, obviously those are the things that you get a chance when you're on a flight and you're on the plane, you start thinking about what things you can do better as a head coach.

I think there are some things that I can help them with in terms of our leaders and our captains to take that on themselves. Because it can't come from us. They've got to be able to do it. How we can keep them energized emotionally and mentally during the long stretch of games that we had, those six games.

Q. Does it require lightening the load a little bit?

BRIAN KELLY: I think all of those are definitely things that have been on my mind. Again, playing four quarters against Navy before you go out to the West Coast, those are all taxing mentally as well because it's not -- I thought physically we did fine, it's just that requires an attention to detail for four quarters and you're going to come back the next week, fly across the country, that's a lot.

Sometimes you just say, well, maybe if you scheduled better on the back end, you'd be a little bit fresher. So I can't control that. The games are already scheduled. But I have to look at ways in our program where we can keep our guys fresher.


Dabo and Urban are masters

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:33 @ Jay

at getting the teams to peak emotionally at the right time.


Well, Urban except for last year maybe

by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:59 @ Grantland
edited by Brendan, Monday, December 04, 2017, 14:55

I agree generally, just saying. I'll be interested to see how they come out against USC given that Meyer has been complaining about how they got screwed out of a playoff spot.

I think Dabo is probably the best in the country at this. He's not wound nearly as tight as Saban/Meyer/Harbaugh/Stoops/etc., or if he is he does a good job of hiding it. I get the sense that he just understands how to relate to the kids and make them feel like he cares, which in turn makes them more responsive to him.

By the way - I've made this point here several times before, but on Dabo versus Harbaugh... Other than stylistic preference, I haven't quite grasped why a large number of ND fans put Harbaugh in the first tier of college coaches and Dabo in tier 1B. Clemson just won their third straight conference title, claimed their third straight playoff berth, have already recorded their eighth straight 10+-win season, are 6-2 in bowls since 2011 and 7-4 in total under Swinney, and are a lock to nail down their sixth straight top 15 ranking and fourth top 10 ranking in the last five seasons. And of course they have a shot to repeat as national champions. Swinney has a .721 win percentage in ten seasons at Clemson, .774 since 2011.

Harbaugh, meanwhile, never even played for a national title - forget a chance to repeat one - never won the Pac 12, hasn't yet won his division in the Big Ten, has lost at least 3 games in six of his seven Power 5 seasons (and seven of his ten collegiate seasons), and is 2-2 in bowl games. Harbaugh has a .648 win percentage in seven seasons at Stanford and Michigan. If you add in his three seasons at San Diego, he jumps to .699.

Brian Kelly has a .667 win percentage in eight seasons at Notre Dame, by the way. If you add in his three seasons at Cincinnati, he jumps to .718. Also has lost at least 3 games in six of his 8 Power 5 seasons. And is 3-3 in bowl games.

In case it's unclear, I'm not making a case for Brian Kelly to be considered an "elite" coach. I'm making a case for Jim Harbaugh not to be considered an elite coach - as anathema as it may be to some, he's much closer to being Brian Kelly than he is to being Nick Saban. Like, muuuuuch closer.

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


Think Dabo is clearly #3 right now

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:52 @ Brendan

And on the same level as Urban and Saban.

There might even be an argument that what he's done at Clemson (assuming he keeps this "yearly playoff contender" theme going) is more impressive than what Saban and Urban accomplished at their current and prior destinations.



by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:55 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

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


it's easier when you don't have to worry about class

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:49 @ Grantland

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Rece Davis had a funny comment on Saturday

by Jack @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:05 @ Jay

They showed Cardale Jones in Indy talking to some of the current players, and I wish I could remember the exact quote, but he said something like "And there's Cardale Jones, reminiscing to back when he wasn't there to play school".


Don't buy this concept

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:53 @ Jay

firstly, we should beware explanations that flatter ourselves

secondly, schools where guys have to worry about class like Stanford, Navy, Northwestern, etc., or the Ivies for that matter, don't experience huge drop-offs like this. I'm not sympathetic to the idea that all elite academic schools besides us are living some type of nefarious lie when it comes to football

thirdly, this isn't even a consistent trend among ND teams. It only happens when we enter the late-season stages with something to lose.


Isn't the most likely explanation...

by BPH, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:49 @ Mike (bart)

a little bit of a lot of different factors?

-- ND expects more academically than the vast majority of D-I programs.

-- ND had fallen behind in the S&C/sports science realm

-- ND has fewer schedule breaks than most schools

-- ND has depth problems because of past recruiting shortfalls

-- ND tends to get its opponents' best shot, especially a good ND contending for a playoff spot

-- ND players, when ND is good, have ample opportunity to read their own press clippings and receive fawning praise from fellow students

-- ND has less to play for once playoff contention is out the window

-- Kelly isn't as good of a coach as some of his peers


Almost certainly for any given year, yes

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:58 @ BPH

I just tried to pull things apart from the perspective of "Someone's greatest strength is often their greatest weakness as well." The narrative richness/"storied"-ness of ND is probably its single most defining and overwhelmign feature, so I figure it could/would follow that something relative to that element has been playing an outsized role for a long time. Not in a determinative way, but in one that it's a perhaps particular challenge for a coach to overcome, and one our past few coaches haven't figured out how to tackle as of yet


responding to everyone

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:33 @ Mike (bart)

I don't have the time or energy to litigate all these points but the facts are out there if you want them (e.g., Navy actually and a great late season record the past 4 years, Stanford has consistently improved over the course of the season, guys at other schools actually do go to class, etc.)

At a macro-level, if you want to take the position that every other school has it better than us -- that we are uniquely disadvantaged because of student-athlete issues -- I just have a hard time buying that. I have a hard time buying it for three reasons:

1) It's not something that manifests for ND when we enter November as an also-ran

2) It assumes that ND and ND guys are all angels in this department, which I think we know is not the case

3) This is a more personal assessment (read: bullshit) reason but it just seems like way too convenient an explanation. Don't even worry about responding to this point if you don't agree with it, just feel free to disregard.


On your analysis of November "good"/"bad"' years

by KGB, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:50 @ Mike (bart)

Have you looked at SOS or anything else here beyond our record going on? Because I'm not exactly sold on the causation.


I am happy to hand off the research at this point

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:55 @ KGB

the only data point I have there is that we didn't seem to run into a bunch of hot teams at the end of the year this year (opponents' records post Nov 1: 8-9). I did start flipping through a few of our other 'mirage' years and the same types of collapses were still happening in years like '02 and '06, despite having bodybag games in each year against pitiful Rutgers and Army units, respectively


As you said in Point 2

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:47 @ Mike (bart)

We know ND kids aren't angels. But we also know they can't take short cuts. Because not only do they get caught, but we freaking report ourselves to the NCAA when it happens.

I know that Stanford prides itself on athletes having to pass the rigorous admissions process in order to get on campus. And perhaps it is possible that this helps weed out the kids who can't "hack it" academically. But I just can't get over the fact that Stanford has never suspended a kid for a game, a semester, etc. for an academic issue since Harbaugh's time (basically coinciding with the rise of their program).

Isn't the easier explanation that they look the other way when it comes to that stuff? That their classwork is not that rigorous?

I like the thought made in this thread, and elsewhere as well, that ND should allow football players to back off their course load during the fall semesters. These kids are on campus year round and take summer classes. None of them have trouble graduating in 4 years, and in fact most of them are done before that time. There's no reason for them to have 15 credit hours in the fall.


Navy also gets to play bad teams late in the season

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:34 @ Mike (bart)

which seems important to note.


as a wise man once said

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:43 @ Jim (fisherj08)

"there's always a path to making yourself right." Everyone here is smart and has good facility with writing and research, etc. We can micro-litigate all these points far more intensely than they deserve, I do it myself, all the time. I apologize in that I didn't want to drag everyone into a thousand rabbit holes, I just wanted to enter a pet theory into the zeitgeist here as a marker because I think it's going to be something on my radar heading into Novembers future, and when it comes time to chew the fat on future program support announcements, candidates for next coach, etc.


Mike, go back and watch the NC State game

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:29 @ Mike (bart)
edited by Greg, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:32

They had a whole bit on one of the Wolfpack defensive players who skipped class all week and stayed in the coaches' office watching film and prepping for practice. NBC was fawning over it. Had they run the same thing about an ND player... well, they couldn't have because no ND player would have been allowed to do it. It's a real distinction and if we're going to wade into analysis of what causes our guys to grind down as the season (and semester) wears on we should be honest about all causes and not just focus on one or two.

With respect to other academic schools, well, the Ivies don't really care so there's not a combination of the mental and emotional grind. Northwestern and Duke and Wake are up and down every year and out of contention by November 1 anyway, so the emotional grind you mention isn't there even if the academic one is. And Stanford is on the quarter system and lets you drop classes up to the start of the exam period with no penalty, so the academic pressure during football season is wholly different than it is at ND.


I know for a fact opposing coaches recruit on this concept.

by ⌂ @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:20 @ Mike (bart)

[ No text ]

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.


Navy lost 5 of their last 6 games this year

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:17 @ Mike (bart)

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It's impossible to fail at Stanford and Northwestern is bad

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:15 @ Mike (bart)

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I don't know if Stanford players worry about class.

by KGB, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:15 @ Mike (bart)

But they apparently don't have to worry about failing classes or being suspended from the team for academics, which essentially reduces your academic-related stress to basically zero.

I don't know about Northwestern or the others, at least for football players, but it's not reasonable to compare ND to Stanford in this respect.


They can drop a class up to the day before the final

by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:31 @ KGB

All Stanford students can, so it's not like it's an accommodation just for the football team. The idea is that students will be more likely to challenge themselves, to test their boundaries, if they know there's a safety net. Which is admirable academically, but the net effect for the football team is, as you note, that it's virtually impossible to fail a class.

Stanford also puts everyone on a five-year track right away, while ND puts everyone on a 3.5 year track. That's the one thing they do that I wholeheartedly believe we should emulate yesterday. We manufacture unnecessary academic stress for our kids with the compressed timeline. You want to preserve the grad rate? Fine, dig in the couch cushions to find what you need for the 4 or 5 players a year who will need the extra time to finish a degree but can't reasonably contribute to the team. Should be easy enough to figure out a need-based package for one year.

Also, on the behavioral point... Duke and Northwestern have both suspended players for behavioral and academic issues. Northwestern had a kid get arrested for dealing drugs - like, legit street corner dealing, not selling his vicodin in the locker room - and Duke dismissed a couple of guys last year too. Meanwhile, an unnamed player at Stanford was accused of sexual assault by a female student, but it went nowhere and Shaw issued no internal discipline because only a majority of the three-person review board felt an assault occurred, not the entire board. I understand that every accusation is a thorny situation to a degree, but I'll just offer that from what I've read about various incidents, I believe there's a general reluctance at Stanford to deal with potential dismissal or suspension for any student because they don't want to "ruin" that kid's career/life.

That's a very large can of worms that should really be a separate discussion from the rest of this, but at the 30,000 foot view, it should at least be noted that they literally never lose kids for academic or behavioral problems. In the entire Shaw-Harbaugh era, they haven't lost any significant contributors for more than a single game for any reason.

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


There's a parallel there to kids at the Naval Academy, too

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:33 @ Brendan

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Stanford has the reverse of our problem

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:28 @ KGB

They play down to bad/middling opposition early and are effectively out of the playoff conversation before September is over each year.

They went 12-2. won the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl in 2015 but were out of the playoff race at 3 PM on the first Saturday of the season because they lost 16-6 to Northwestern.


they had a fireable loss early *this* season

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:30 @ HullieAndMikes

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fireable where?

by BPH, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:36 @ Jay

At ND or Stanford? Those are two very different things.

SDSU, as you know, is a pretty darn good program over the last few years.


oh I like what SDSU is doing

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:59 @ BPH

and their win over Stanford was not a fluke. But to reinforce what Hullie was pointing out, losing to SDSU, for a team of the supposed NC-class caliber of Stanford's, is not acceptable.


So was Tulsa in 2010 but people got plenty mad about that

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:37 @ BPH

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That's why I asked the question

by BPH, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:42 @ Jim (fisherj08)

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Clemson and Ohio State were the examples

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:58 @ Mike (bart)

And when's the last time Navy, Northwestern, or Stanford had the playoffs riding on the line?


Clemson's graduation rates, at least, are pretty strong.

by Kevin @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:23 @ Jay

Generally north of 80, but I don't have a 2017 link handy. This article says they were #2 (I assume in grad rates) among the top 25 at the end of the 2016 regular season.

No idea if their academics for football players are hard, but it's at least a decent school, and Dabo seems to run a good program.


so are Alabama's, now, after the light was shone on them

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:24 @ Kevin

I think they're all gaming it.


Spot-checking their majors

by Kevin @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:13 @ Jay

Kelly Bryant: History -- good major

Trevion Thompson: Pre-business -- I'm skeptical. Why do you need to be "pre" something that is itself an undergraduate major, unless this is a transition into an actual business major?

Hunter Renfrow: Economics -- good major

Ray-Ray McCloud: Health Science -- would need to know more, including how many guys are parked here.

Christian Wilkins: Communications -- if he says that's a good major, let's just agree with him

Dexter Lawrence: Justice Studies -- see Ray-Ray.

Travis Etienne: Freshman, undeclared

Kendall Joseph: Health Science

Austin Bryant: Pre-business

Dorian O'Daniel: Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. The buzzer sounds.

OK. What does this tell us?

1. A bullshit major exists at Clemson.

2. Of the ten headliners I checked, only one was parked there.

3. On this list, not too many repeats. A couple Health Science, a couple pre-Business.

4. A couple good majors, and a number that could go either way.

What I don't know: what the larger trends are, are these all legitimate Clemson undergrad majors filled with other undergraduate students, and how much work do the players put in.

I do think it's safe to assume ND players have harder academic workloads, put in more work, and are more a part of the ND student body. There is a reason we root for these guys, after all. But I don't know enough to write off the major schools as soulless football factories.


What's the ND "football major?"

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:16 @ Kevin

I'm about 15 years out now (damn, that's sad to think about), but in my day, we saw football players clustered in Sociology and FTT. Knowing a few people who were in FTT then, and knowing people in this forum who were in there, I know this is no "joke" major.


Seems like a lot were Psychology when I was there.

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:38 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

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Mack is FTT

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:37 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

and couldn't stay eligible, so there's that.


I'm guessing its sociology

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:55 @ Jay

Many of the at-risk kids in the early 2000s were there. I recall Aaron Lynch being there fairly recently.

As they were in A&L, wouldn't they have to complete some sort of thesis paper? One would think that would be quite a tall task for some of those kids.


I was wondering the same.

by Kevin @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:33 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

Here's what I remember at ND:

American Studies was fairly popular among players. Marketing and Management both did pretty well, too. I don't recall FTT being a huge football major.

I remember Tim Ridder working his ass off, until 2 am, all the time. I think he was an Econ major. His coach in Indianapolis told him, "this is only an insult in the NFL, but you're too smart for this shit." Tim was then released.

Kory Minor sat in the front row of every class. He was a borderline nerd. Took notes like it was law school and asked questions all the time.

When I go through periodic (feel free to fall out of your chair laughing) negative thoughts about the program, I do remind myself of those memories. I want to win more games. I do think we have good kids on the team.


I don't think you can count business majors

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:52 @ Kevin

To get into CoBA you've gotta pass two semesters of calculus. I think that's pretty darn difficult for any kid we'd consider "at risk" or borderline or however you'd like to classify them.

We absolutely have great kids. That's why they're so great to root for, and why we are so quick to default to blaming coaching for their shortcomings. I do wonder if the typical "ND kid" we hear about so much on the recruiting trail puts us at a bit of a competitive disadvantage on the field. Great kids with great futures in whatever they want to do might not be as hungry to do whatever it takes to be the best on the football field.


As Norm McDonald would say, it's a double-edged sword

by Kevin @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:56 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

or, since all swords have two edges, it's a sword.


The best thing about a true liberal arts college like ND

by HCE, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:32 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

is that a proper liberal arts curriculum makes "joke majors" impossible.


Right, graduation rate probably isn't a great metric

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:28 @ Jay

It isn't difficult to do the bare minimum and amass enough credit hours. Probably worth asking about course load, rigor of classes, etc. I doubt Alabama's best defensive player is up late during the season working on an engineering project, for example.


sorry, I misunderstood the point

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:05 @ Jay

but relative to ND, having the playoffs on the line could explain one November loss here and there, but not a string of wholesale collapses in quality of play. E.g., it explains, perhaps, Miami 2017 or ASU 2014, but not the subsequent losses. And, to be clear, if we pull apart any one data point there will be tons of room for debate, etc. but at a pulled back view I think there's a multi-year pattern that would suggest something beyond unhappy confluences of events.


I think the "emotionally drained" part is right on the money

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:18 @ Jay

and I think it's a real and vicious problem for ND. this 'Sitcky Jeans' theory has legs, jay!


But why?

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:33 @ Mike (bart)

Why are they mentally and emotionally drained?

It seems to me that just kicks the causation can down the road a bit.



by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:47 @ Slainte Joe

[ No text ]


Then I would characterize it as physical exhaustion.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:20 @ Jay

I realize Kelly is probably trying to defend his S&C program, but I tend to think the players are just worn out by the end of the season.

Tough October schedule
Night game in Miami, redeye home
Navy at home
Flight to Bay area, redeye home

That's physically exhausting. I don't care how young or fit you are.


We need to drop Navy.

by ⌂ @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:02 @ Jay

[ No text ]

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.


It would be a great start to our scheduling issues

by BPH, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:33 @

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I do think there's a scheduling aspect to this

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:45 @ BPH

we should be playing Ball State in November, not September. Also, might be worth looking at adding in a 2nd bye and trying to play a game the first week of December so as to give us more rest and compete with the conference championship spotlight


my best guess would be because

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:37 @ Slainte Joe

they get treated like conquering warrior poet gods by fellow students, by fans on campus, by the ND media, etc. while there's actually still a lot of work left to be done. Then, when it starts slipping and spiraling out of control, there's almost a conditioned response within the ND universe.

I mean, it's a fairly common trope, right? Every good season of ours is basically the first half of Rocky III on loop


I didn't see any evidence of over-confidence this year

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:50 @ Mike (bart)

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not over-confidence so much as a bad mix of

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:57 @ Jay

self-satisfaction and deeply, brutally ingrained Impostor Syndrome


Here, let me just drag this out for you

by KGB, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:18 @ Mike (bart)



come on Mike

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:03 @ Mike (bart)

We're all eager to understand what happened, and maybe what you're saying about complacency plays a part, but I have a really hard time posting that as Factor #1 when we have in-game explanations as to why we lost games without resorting to armchair psychoanalysis. Besides, there are more plausible psychological explanations than succumbing to fawning praise, like the mental fatigue of a grinding season against 4 ranked teams plus another 7-5 team with a good offense plus fucking Navy.


you call it what you want

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:21 @ Jay

It's not like we ran into any buzzsaws. The combined records of our post.-Nov. 1 opponents down the stretch was 8-9. We've been blown out in big late season games for 24 straight years now, regardless of team quality or lack thereof of our own team. We are on average 3 touchdowns worse in November than Sept-Oct. under Kelly when we enter the month ranked, and almost exactly the same in November as we are in Sept-Oct. when we enter the month unranked. If you don't think there's something specific to ND that inhibits it's ability to handle success (as opposed to simply play a 12-game season like everyone else) that is your choice, but I haven't seen anything to move me off the premise. I'm all ears relative to different explanations within that premise - I've offered one that is pretty thin, I agree, but in the absence of any other it's what I'm sticking with.


1. I think you're amplifying what is a small sample size

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:55 @ Mike (bart)

2. You're using ppg differential and combining game outcomes among different classes of opponents (44-6 over Army with opposite vs USC gets us a net zero, but is that telling us anything useful?)

3. You're only looking at November (but not games on say, October 28 or 29). Why?

4. You're ignoring SOS for the first two thirds of the schedule against the last third, which has USC and Stanford and a bowl opponent in most years.

5. You're combining year results based on "ranking" going into November . (Let's lump 2012,14,15, and 17 together and get an average? And then compare that net average to the other years? Huh?)

6. Your use of ppg average net between different segments of the season severely distorts what happened in a particular season. Take 2012, where we were +65 in points in November games with four wins -- a very strong November upended by the Alabama game in January. But you tag that year as "-11 ppg differential". Hardly an accurate representation of what happened down the stretch that year.


The easier conclusion

by Kevin @, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:16 @ Jay

is that they haven't been good enough, period. They lose too many games.


"We need more points!" — Mrs. Jay

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:22 @ Kevin

[ No text ]



by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:25 @ Slainte Joe

[ No text ]


it's a message board!

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:04 @ Jay

I know it's a non-rigorous analysis. There's no level of analytic rigor that's going to justify the necessary time investment from a persuasion perspective: the sample size will always be too small and football is just too multi-variate.

Take granularity out of it if you want. I don't think anyone needs to be persuaded that our ability to close the deal in strong seasons has been wanting. I'll just leave it at what I posted to KGB down below ( and BPH above (


good discussion

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:06 @ Mike (bart)

I just wanted to point out some flaws in the initial analysis upon which the entire rest of the thread rests.


We don't do audits until the Spring, right?

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:09 @ Jay

when does the board fiscal year end, again? Is it bad that I don't know this?


I think there were unique factors this year...

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:48 @ Mike (bart)

In trying to rebuild a culture of physical and mental toughness, it was probably necessary for Kelly to keep his foot on the gas early (all the "domination" talk) more than usual.

It was also necessary to win early in order to rebuild program credibility, particularly for recruiting.

And then we had the toughest November schedule I can remember in quite a while, with particularly bad timing of the Navy game.

How all this translates to slamming into a wall in the second half against Wake and never recovering, I don't know. But to the extent pacing was an issue, I think it just wasn't an option this year.


And we had to travel to opposite ends of the country in NOV

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:50 @ BillyGoat

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The foot on the gas thing hurts when your depth isn't great

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:00 @ BillyGoat

Think about the position groups that generally held up OK as the season went on. The DL might have been the best example of this - they started wearing down a bit late in the year, but they never had a game where they were getting pushed around all over the field. I'm guessing this had something to do with guys like Khalid Kareem improving as the season went on and allowing Elston to rotate liberally.

Staying on the defensive side, the LBs seemed to wear down late and Lea couldn't trust Bilal to give Tranquill enough of a breather. Martini had a great game against Navy as per usual, but was pretty quiet against Stanford and Miami. Similarly, Coleman hung on OK, but was forced to play way too many snaps. Elliott was hanging by a thread at the end of the season.


I think both things can be true

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:01 @ BillyGoat

that's part of the problem: these bursts of seemingly elite status happen so irregularly that we're always in "Return to Glory" mode, which is, understandably, exhausting (just look at what happened to Miami on Saturday). This is the reason why shit like 4-8 is just so bad for us, or even something like Goslon getting suspended in 2013: because we lose the chance to routinize strong performance.

It also gets to why the bowl game is such a big deal this year: it gets us to the chance to put up back to back 10 win season next year, and get all the seasoning that comes with the same kids being in the spotlight for that long.


also, to this point

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:24 @ Mike (bart)

getting a Jan. 1 game I would imagine means the players get to go home for Christmas, which is probably a nice recharge


Was LSU ranked before the Music City Bowl? I can't remember

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:49 @ Mike (bart)

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Per Wikipedia: 22 in AP, 23 in Coaches, 23 in CFP

by HCE, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:53 @ HullieAndMikes

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Good post.

by Buffalo @, The Dirty South, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:45 @ Mike (bart)

How much will this bowl game influence your view of the program positively or negatively?

Normally, I'd say "not much." But I do believe that a loss in this game, especially if ND looks flat or Wimbush doesn't look like something resembling a competent college quarterback, puts Kelly squarely back near the top of the "hot seat" lists for 2018. That'd be another 4-loss season, with three losses in the last four games and an uncertain situation at QB.

Kelly really needs a win to stanch the bleeding. I know many wouldn't be overly excited about a win against Ed Orgeron in bowl game without a chance to finish in the top ten (probably), but it would help recruiting, give the team (and just as importantly, Wimbush) confidence that he's the undisputed answer at QB going into Spring, and get the team to 10 wins, which would include wins over some pretty good ranked opponents (SC, LSU, in particular).

I also wonder if there is an outcome that could alter Kelly's career path. If Notre Dame routs LSU, is there a chance that another team could come calling for KElly? If LSU smokes ND, could it change minds at ND, especially if another candidate seems better and available? Probably not, but if I were Jack Swarbrick, I'd at least consider either possibility.



by Bill, Southern California, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:40 @ Buffalo

I think Kelly is right back on the hot seat with a 9-4 season. If he rings up another one next season, I think it will be sayonara time. A 10-3 year loosens that rope a bit.


9-4 next season would be pretty good

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:44 @ Bill

or, at least, he definitely would come back after a 9-4 year next year. We've got 6 games that look pretty tough:

@ Va Tech
Florida St.
Bowl Game

If he goes 9-4, that would entail going no worse than 2-4 in those games, and beating everyone else on the schedule. Perhaps not terribly satisfying but easy to spin as a decent-to-good season


I think it would suck and be time to end the experiment.

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:46 @ Mike (bart)

[ No text ]


I initially took you to mean

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:07 @ Bill

end the experiment of Notre Dame playing football.


Tough, but fair.

by Buffalo @, The Dirty South, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:53 @ Bill

It would take an excellent team to go 10-2 or better against next year's slate, assuming that FSU improves substantially and the other teams are reasonably close to where they stand this year.

But in year 9 of a coaching tenure, with a returning starter at QB, good experience along both lines, and the second year of a new OC and DC, I do think that Notre Dame should expect to have an excellent team.


I mean, it was time to end the experiment a year ago

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:50 @ Bill

at this point it's pretty much become a different experiment. We're trying to find penicillin.


The time to end the experiment was December 2009

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:25 @ Mike (bart)

Why we didn't back up the Brinks truck and tell Saban, Meyer, Gruden, or Stoops that they could have unlimited JUCOs, no academic restrictions, and total control over punishments for players' infractions while on campus (in addition to whatever else it is they wanted in exchange for ensuring national championships -- which they totally would ensure) is beyond me. It must come down to the administration being simultaneously incompetent and fiendishly devious.

Sorry Ken, you probably shouldn't have read this. Heh.


don't Brinks truck me, bro

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:38 @ Greg

I'm the one that wrote a 1,000 word Xs and Os post in praise of the performance against Navy that 2 people responded to, and thought we'd beat Stanford by 20. You can go back and look - it's right below the 70 post thread about whether ND could still make the playoff.

Not that it was a great post (it's more a fun exercise for me) but it strikes me as at least kind of germane in the context of this thread


I know, but... (not too long)

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:48 @ Mike (bart)

...I dislike the "end the experiment" talk because it smacks of "we deserve better." And that flies in the face of what I read as your larger point -- that the ND community and the baked-in emotion at ND is counterproductive to having teams sustain good performances for whole seasons. If you're right (and I think that you have made good points and that your overarching thought could be combined with the academic issues and the strain of not having a true "break" game in November) then the idea that a coach who goes 9-4 or 10-3 should be canned because he's not going to bring us a championship is what we as an institution need to get away from.


no sweat, to be clear: I don't care much about championships

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 10:07 @ Greg

I just really like good football and I really like fun. I wanted Kelly gone at the end of last year because the fun level over however many years really hadn't justified the 7 year investment. This year has been pretty fun and I'd consider it a success with a bowl win - I have had to adjust and then re-adjust my priors for Kelly, though. I don't think there's much point in entertaining his ability to win the championship, but he has shown he can still put a fun team on the field, particularly if you adjust expectations for late-season glory


it's secretly a huge game

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:21 @ Buffalo

if we win we can finish Top 10, with 10 wins and then we have the chance to do it again next year. If you get to a point where you are putting up 3 10-win, Top-10 seasons in 4 years, that's pretty damn good. That's like David Shaw territory, or Clemson pre-2015 territory. You're just one transformative player away at that point


It will influence me quite a bit,

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:02 @ Buffalo

for the reasons you mention. If we win then I will be more optimistic about next year. If we lose, especially badly, then it will seem to me like nothing has changed. It will be BK's sixth 4 or more loss season in his 8 years, and we will have folded again at the end of the season with 3 losses in our last 4 games. BK appears to be an 8-4 coach so I'm ready for him to go, but I'll give him next year if we win because of all the changes that were made this season.


Same here.

by Albie, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:20 @ oviedoirish

I am hoping this bowl game is a sign of real change. Unfortunately, I am not optimistic.


I really bought into this team until the 2nd half of Wake.

by Bryan (IrishCavan), Howth Castle and Environs, Monday, December 04, 2017, 12:23 @ Albie

I'm not falling for that again.


Yep, fully expecting a NC State Gator Bowl-like performance.

by Albie, Monday, December 04, 2017, 13:28 @ Bryan (IrishCavan)

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Same here.

by professor @, Tallahassee, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:18 @ oviedoirish

The difference between "10-3 with a Jan. 1 bowl win over a marquee program following regular-season wins over USC, Michigan State, and a good NC State team" and "9-4 with a bowl loss (to Ed Orgeron!) following the usual November swoon to finish 1-3 down the stretch" is fairly huge.


I think we have a chance to finish in the top 10 with a win

by CK08, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:58 @ Buffalo

All of the NY6 games feature teams ranked ahead of us playing each other. Half of them will lose, of course.

It's not a sure thing, but it's possible, and it would be nice to have something like that to show for how well we played in October.


Agree. I hope that is the outcome!

by Buffalo @, The Dirty South, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:59 @ CK08

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I have a couple of questions...

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:37 @ Mike (bart)

1. Do you think we have enough information to conclude that there's a pattern of nosediving in November?

2. If so, how much of that do you think is attributable to being a student at Notre Dame. For example, Kelly noted that before the WF game, Tranquill had two straight nights of minimal sleep for an engineering project. Is the student-athlete load at ND too much, such that players are going to be worn out in November no matter who the coach is? Or is the nosedive just attributable to Kelly's teams not getting better over the course of the season? Some combination?


Some numbers and a unifying theory

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:14 @ Slainte Joe

I think there is a pattern specific to ND, but I don't think it has anything to do with the "There are so many demands placed on ND kids" angle. you don't see similar deteriorations at places like Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, Navy, etc. where the putative student-athlete burdens are equal or more severe.

Further, you don't really see these deteriorations in years when ND doesn't have much to lose entering November. Look at these comparisons, just from the Kelly Era:

Net Points Through Oct 31//Net Points in Nov-Dec-Jan

"GOOD" YEARS (Years that looked like we might be a legit team entering November)

2012: +147 (+18 ppg)//+37; (+7 ppg) II -11 ppg difference post Nov 1
2014: +100 (+14.3 ppg)//-62 (-10 ppg) II -24 ppg difference post Nov 1
2015: +114 (+14.3 ppg)//+18 (+5.2 ppg) II -9 ppg difference post Nov 1
2017: +195 (24.4 ppg)//-33 (-8.25 ppg) II -33 ppg difference post Nov 1
AVG -19.25 net ppg deterioriation in Nov/Dec

"MEH" YEARS (Years that we entered November in relative anonymity)
2010: +8 (+1 ppg)//+77 (+19 ppg) II +18 ppg difference post Nov 1
2011: +96 (+12 ppg)//+15 (+3 ppg) II -9 ppg difference post Nov 1
2013: +50 (+6.3 ppg)//+9 (+2.25 ppg) II -3 ppg difference post Nov 1
2016: +21 (+2.7 ppg)//+16 (+4 ppg) II +1.3 ppg difference post Nov 1
AVG +1.8 net ppg improvement in Nov./Dec

I haven't gone back and done similar exercises for other "fool's gold" years, but my hunch would be that you'd see similar patterns emerging with the difference between "Return to Glory" Novembers and "Anonymous" n=Novembers.

I mentioned this last week, but the working theory I'm going to start harping on is that ND has a "campus/culture" problem. We -- students, media, fans, you, me, pretty much everyone in the ND universe --- prematurely ejaculate every single time it looks like we might be on the verge of getting to elite status. I think given how insular and integrated the ND universe is, both within campus and without, it has to be very hard not to feel like you've hit the mountaintop once you're "in the conversation" into November, since we all start acting like it and waxing glorious and whatnot. Football is hard, and once one's competitive edge gets softened even a little bit, it is very hard to readjust one's mindset and win it back. Even worse, have the carpet pulled out from under you one too many times and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.


I have a hard time with your theory.

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:40 @ Mike (bart)

Most of the players on ND's football team come from winning high school football programs. Winning isn't something new to them, they've been doing it most of their lives.

Likewise, there are many sports programs on NDs campus that do very, very well. Their fellow athletes know how to handle winning. I don't think it is much different for the football players (although I acknowledge that the spotlight is brighter for football).


Please explain how this only impacts ND.

by KGB, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:20 @ Mike (bart)
edited by KGB, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:27

Since a whole bunch of other schools have seemingly mastered how to avoid allowing early-season success go to the heads of 18-21 year-old kids and having an adverse impact. "Insular universe". I mean, c'mon.


the working theory

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:29 @ KGB

is that ND is the most "storied" football program. We literally have 'richness of narrative' sewn into our institutional DNA, both as a university and especially as a football program & fanbase, and in team specific and general media as well.

ND is the P5 school in which football players are more closely enmeshed within the general student body

Thus, the ND players are constantly immersed (voluntarily or not) in these enriched narratives which are, succinctly, "ND is Back!™" and "ND is a Fraud!™"

Because football is hard, the former narrative makes us susceptible to the latter, and once adverse events unfold, the latter narrative becomes a sure nuisance to performance.


respectfully, I think that's bunk

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:53 @ Mike (bart)

I don't think we have any real insight into the locker room culture of this ND team to know if they're drinking their own kool-aid. I would put that kind of psychoanalysis way down the list behind other known factors, like the grind of a competitive schedule down the stretch.



by San Pedro, Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:25 @ Jay

we can come up with a bunch of things before drinking our own bathwater enters the mix.

1. Poor QB play/development/coaching
2. Other teams figuring out Number 1 and scheming for it.
3. Poor WR play/development/coaching.
4. Recruiting whiffs at WR, DL and Safety for ____ years running, leaving those positions unskilled and/or thin.
5. Our Special Teams largely stink and lost us a tremendous amount of yards in field position - coaching.
6. Our OL's increased inability to deal with athletic defenders/speed rushers.
7. We played a damn tough schedule coming out of the bye week and guys got beat up/tired/emotionally drained.
8. Opposing offensive coordinators figured out our weak spots on defense and began exploiting them later in the season. Coaching. See 4 above.

Mike may have a larger point about the culture of ND making it tough to win. But that's broader than the bathwater quaffing argument. The academic rigors and subsequent recruitment of guys who maybe don't/can't prioritize football as much as the players at football factories could be something.


these things aren't mutually exclusive

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 09:40 @ San Pedro

all those things are the primary cause. I'm noodling on why we always start too look like a leaky ship with a ton of primary-cause problems when the calendar flips and we have a lot to play for


We have 24 years of strong top-line evidence

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:55 @ Jay

Can I sell you on the idea that there is a particular self-satisfaction within the ND community when the football team looks like it is good? It doesn't have to be internal to the locker room, emotional wear can be thrust upon a team from without as well.


I love this theory.

by Buffalo @, The Dirty South, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:26 @ Mike (bart)

I don't fault alumni, students, and fans one bit, though. We are desperate for a winning program befitting Notre Dame's history.

But I do place blame on the athletic administration, ND's marketing and development machine, and Kelly. If he had been as salty as Saban at press conferences in the midst of our run of dominance in October, he'd have caught some flack about it. But he seemed to be all in on talking about what a success the programmatic changes had been. Meanwhile, ND rolled out a Heisman campaign and sold a boatload of "33 Trucking" hats (even with a reluctant star at the center of that).

It might behoove us to take a few years off from the relentless promotion at which Notre Dame has become so adept.


yeah it's a sticky situation

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:35 @ Buffalo

because, to be clear, the 33 Trucking campaign was fantastic, kudos to all involved. It's a dilemma because one the one hand you have to be willing to advocate for yourself, but on the other hand ND is a total headcase about this stuff by now.

The only stray thought I have is that we need to have some kind of penance year. Like, a year in which we are clearly awesome but get left out of the playoff or something as a way to face up to all the too-early coronations we've had bestowed upon us and bestowed upon ourselves. More vinegar, less birthday cake.


Certainly some.

by Buffalo @, The Dirty South, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:59 @ Slainte Joe

How many credit hours does a student-athlete have to take to remain eligible? I think ND should be operating at the absolute minimum in the Fall semester.

This is another area where ND should continue to refine the "student-athlete experience," acknowledging the challenges of going to school at ND compared to other places.

Tranquill is a bad example though. He's a mechanical engineer. How many scholarship athletes ever really major in mechanical engineering, pre-med, hard sciences, etc.?


Great point. I had similar issues in November.

by Albie, Monday, December 04, 2017, 07:49 @ Slainte Joe

Although my exhaustion was usually attributed to late night Hearts games and debates with Pasquale at The Commons.

Seriously though, I think this is a very valid point. Every year, I am reminded of how hard our guys have it this time of year. I cannot fathom doing what they do and getting prepared for mid-terms and finals in October and November. Does anyone know what Stanford is like for athletes in academics? Is it more Ivy-like in that the hardest part about it is getting in? Or is it more like ND and Rice, in that it is friggin hard work?

I still believe we should join the ACC in full, and I don't want to open up that debate here. However, that will do nothing about the academic burden they face.


I agree.

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:10 @ Albie

I do think joining the ACC would help because it would give us something to play for in years when we've lost 2 games relatively early (which is most years lately). I also think JS needs to do a better job of scheduling, with byes before our big games and more spacing between tough games. Playing at Miami, Navy, and then at Stanford is 3 very tough games to close the season and a lot of travel within two weeks. I also think they should lighten the course load in the fall and allow players to graduate in five years without the grad school requirement.


We don't collapse in years where we lose games early

by Mike (bart), Monday, December 04, 2017, 08:23 @ oviedoirish

I think this is much more of an emotional fatigue/management issue than it is an issue of the players being oversubscribed. I do think ti would serve us well to move a bodybag game into our annual November slate, but beyond that I think there's a more elusive/bigger problem.

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