Monday, November 30, 2009

End of the Weis Age

It's official: Jack Swarbrick confirmed at a 5pm EST conference that Charlie Weis will not be retained as head coach of the Fighting Irish next season. Weis had six years left on his contract.

Here is an official release sent to alumni and students:
Nov. 30, 2009
For Immediate Release
Weis will not be retained as Notre Dame football coach

University of Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis will not be retained, University director of athletics Jack Swarbrick announced today (Nov. 30).

“We have great expectations for our football program, and we have not been able to meet those expectations,” Swarbrick said. “As an alumnus, Charlie understands those goals and expectations better than most, and he’s as disappointed as anyone that we have not achieved the desired results.”

Swarbrick recommended the dismissal Sunday night to Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

“We have established an evaluation process for all of our athletic programs that, in the end, results in a recommendation from Jack to me,” Father Jenkins said. “I accepted Jack’s decision and look forward to working with him on selecting a new head football coach who is the very best choice possible for the University and especially for our student-athletes.

“I am most appreciative to Coach Weis for his service to Notre Dame and our community. He and his family have my prayers and best wishes.”

Weis spent five seasons as Irish head coach from 2005-09, with his teams achieving consecutive records of 9-3 (Fiesta Bowl appearance) in ’05, 10-3 (Sugar Bowl appearance), 3-9, 7-6 (Hawai’i Bowl victory) and 6-6 in ’09 – for an overall 35-27 mark.

Swarbrick announced that Rob Ianello, the Irish assistant head coach/offense, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, will assume responsibility for football operations until a new coach is hired. Ianello has spent the past five seasons on the Notre Dame staff and previously was part of football staffs at Wisconsin (1990-93, 2003-04), Arizona (1994-2002) and Alabama (1987-89).

More thoughts to come on this later but I thought I'd join the rest of the free world in making the announcement.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Goodbye Al Groh

Thanks for the memories Al.

Virginia Tech and Virginia battle today for the Commonwealth Cup, which is hopefully in one piece.

The Hokies and 'Hoos meet for the 90th time, and regardless of the outcome it appears it will be the final game for head coach Al Groh.

Groh is just 59-52 including 3-2 in bowl games and 1-7 against the Hokies.

I'll be sad to see him go, and interested to see who UVA hires to replace him. Will the Wahoos be able to close the gap and end Tech's dominance?

Will the Cavaliers pull a shocker in Charlottesville Saturday?

We shall see at 3:30 on ESPN or ABC depending on your area.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

On this day of reflection it is important to remember all that we have to be thankful for in our lives.

Personally, I am thankful for family and friends, my beautiful fiance, food, shelter, employment, the blessings associated with living in the US, the bravery of our troops both overseas and domestic, our lady's university, peace, and so much more.

Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

I leave you with this prayer from Linus...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Concert Review: Less Than Jake

For the dozens of loyal followers of Stars and Slights it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Less Than Jake. After all, they have been the featured artist in several song of the day posts.

So when I heard that they were coming to the Twin Cities I knew I had to capitalize on the opportunity (my first time seeing them live)!

Earlier this evening at the Station 4 nightclub in St. Paul I watched the ska/punk crazies from Gainseville, Fl promote their latest album, aptly entitled "GNV FLA." The Swellers and The Casualties opened for Less Than Jake and set the stage for a pretty memorable night.

I honestly knew little about both opening acts and didn't pay much attention to them while at the concert but what experienced was certainly worth mentioning here.

The Swellers reminded me of an early stage Blink 182 (think Dude Ranch) and The Casualties are in a league of their own.

In fact, The Casualties provided perhaps the most indelible moment of the evening when they attempted to organize both the largest circle pit Station 4 had ever seen and the often talked about but rarely well-executed 'wall of death.'

While giving the instructions for the 'wall of death' guitarist Jake said "get as far to the walls as possible and spread yourselves... like butt cheeks." Hilarious.

In terms of showmanship it was obvious that Less Than Jake was the most seasoned group out of all three bands. Their presence and crowd interactions were genuine and diversified. They even razzed their merchandise manager for forgetting to bring a stash of free swag for the concertgoers like myself (though the group members wound up throwing tons of free stuff into the crowd throughout the concert).

For a tour that is supposed to promote their new album the boys of LTJ managed to work in a solid mix of old and new stuff. They dipped back to Pezcore by playing "Liquor Store" and played several songs off of Losing Streak.

Hellow Rockview was another album whose songs were heavily featured tonight along with Anthem and, of course, GNV FLA.

With exception to "The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out" all of my favorite songs were performed. Their albums usually feature dual guitars to cover lead and rhythm but tonight only Chris Demakes played. Even without a rhythm guitar the songs still sounded very close to the studio recordings but with some added pizzaz.

Less Than Jake was absolutely worth the price of admission. I'll be seeing them again next time they come to the Twin Cities.

I'm providing a link rather than embedded video because that feature was removed at the request of the record label. Here's one of the songs performed tonight: "The Science of Selling Yourself Short."

College Football Quick Picks: Week 13

It's almost Thanksgiving, and that means excessive amounts of food and rivalry football.

This week is a football fan's dream as there are games Thursday on into next week if you include the NFL.

Rivalry's are one of the best parts of college sports. In college football in particular, rivalry games provide for all kinds of added excitement. I'll be watching a whole lot of the stuff this weekend, and I find a lot of cool games out there so I give to you the gift of many many picks.

No. 2 Alabama defeats Auburn

No. 3 Texas defeats Texas A&M (though I'm really pulling for the Aggies in this one)

West Virginia defeats No. 9 Pittsburgh

No. 18 Clemson defeats South Carolina

No. 7 Georgia Tech defeats Georgia

No. 19 BYU defeats No. 21 Utah

No. 20 USC defeats UCLA

This Week's Irrational Upset Special

Florida State defeats No. 1 Florida

This is based on the Bobby Bowden factor, so it may be a silly pick.

I personally think Bowden will get one final season, and he should, but there are still rumblings that the boosters want Bowden to step aside and let offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher start being the head ball coach (probably so someone else can start calling plays).

If this is indeed Bowden's final game against Florida, his team knows about it and will play out of their minds for him to get one more big win.

Of course, if he's coming back next year, the 'Noles sans Christian Ponder will probably just get steam-rolled by little Timmy Tebow on his senior day.

Virginia Tech-Virginia Week and Notre Dame-Stanford

It's a big week for both programs as the Hokies take on their arch-rivals and Charlie Weis hopes to cling to his job as the Fighting Irish travel to battle a very solid Stanford team.

Brian and I both picked Stanford in that one and it certainly looks like the smart pick right now. We'll have to see just how much fight is left for the Irish.

Saturday, Tech will bid farewell to longtime friend of the program Al Groh who will likely be coaching his final game for the Wahoos. The Hokies should roll in front of mostly their own fans in Charlottesville, but anything can happen in the battle for the Commonwealth Cup.

It's going to be a great, busy week. I'll have quick picks up tomorrow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

College Football Quick Picks: Week 12

So I managed not to pick any games at all this week. I woke up late today (Saturday) and I've yet to see the scores of games, but I'll limit myself to a few picks that have yet to start here just after 2 pm. Here are some frantic/drowsy picks.

No. 17 Stanford defeats No. 25 California

Indiana defeats Purdue

Nebraska defeats Kansas State

No. 11 Oregon defeats Arizona

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sometimes things don't always go as planned. I went 5-1 in my picks this week missing only on Stanford's drubbing of Southern California. Virginia Tech defeated Maryland as expected 36-9. On the other hand Notre Dame lost another tough one, this time to No. 9 Pittsburgh 27-22.

Golden Tate is an absolute menace, I'm not sure that you can really stop him. I don't know why Notre Dame doesn't run some hurry-up offense when they get in a rut though. It's much easier for Clausen to get in a rhythm that way. I've been suggesting that the Hokies do it all year with Tyrod Taylor who seems to be the same way.

I was most impressed with Dion Lewis of Pitt. That kid is special. He and Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams are without a doubt the two best freshman backs in America.

A tough week for Charlie who appears to be in serious trouble now. Talk about a must win against UConn.

Friday, November 13, 2009

College Football Quick Picks: Week 11

This weekend promises to be an exciting weekend of college football. There are good match-ups aplenty so get your dominant thumb ready (you know, for using the TV remote) and load up on greasy food and cold beverages. Going outside is of course optional.

Here are the picks:

No. 5 Cincinnati defeats No. 25 West Virginia

No. 9 USC defeats Stanford

No. 11 Ohio State defeats No. 10 Iowa

No. 4 TCU defeats No. 16 Utah

Georgia defeats Auburn

And my upset special Baby! Dick Vitale style in honor of the start of college hoops season:

North Carolina defeats No. 14 Miami

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Word to the Weis: Win

As Justin alluded to I made a rather knee-jerk reaction after Saturday’s loss. Now that I’ve allowed my head of steam to dissipate I’m ready to attempt to tactfully express my feelings on what transpired. Here goes.

What I saw on Saturday didn’t mark a regression from what I’ve witnessed over the course of the previous eight games this season.

Over the span of games prior to Saturday’s debacle, Notre Dame showed itself capable of overcoming nearly any obstacle: several multiple possession deficits in the second half, 16 years without a home win against a rival, seven straight losses to a rival, countless missed chances to punch the ball in from inside the five yard-line, multiple possessions from the opposition inside the 10 yard-line (including two in a row), nine consecutive bowl losses, and probably a few more quirky statistics or intense game situations I’m forgetting.

What little momentum was gained by those achievements was squandered and left on the field last Saturday during Notre Dame’s 23-21 loss to Navy.

No, what I saw on Saturday was not a regression but rather the startling reality of an unfocused team.

This is not an admonition of things to come. Dating back to Weis’ first year at the helm of the Irish ship he clearly portrayed himself as commander of an often gritty but not always suited for battle team.

Let us examine a few case points by season:

2005 – an overtime home opener loss to MSU after manhandling Pitt in the season opener; a flat and uninspired performance against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl that led to another loss

2006 – embarrassing home loss to Michigan in a game that wasn’t close after the first five minutes of play; lackadaisical effort in the Coliseum against the Trojans in the regular season finale; another blowout bowl loss in the Sugar Bowl to LSU

2007 – failed attempt at converting personnel designed for a pro-style offense into an option attack that lead to a defeat against Georgia Tech; atrocious 38-0 shutout in Ann Arbor to Michigan; first loss against Navy in 43 consecutive attempts; loss to a second academy (Air Force) for the first time since the 1940s; zero wins in first five games of the season; 58 sacks surrendered over the entire season (a record for most at the time); another hapless effort (and shutout) versus arch-rival USC at home; worst record in school history at 3-9

2008 – blown leads at North Carolina, at Home against Pittsburgh and Syracuse (a team that won 2 games all year!); ineptitude again at USC (no first down until final play of third quarter)

There are probably many things I have left out of this list but forgive me as this was all from memory. For a more extensive list please visit this lovely piece from the fine gentlemen at NDNation (they’re always on top of their game).

My point is that the loss to Navy, while shocking, should not be too much of a surprise to the Irish faithful. With Charlie Weis as head coach there hasn’t been much ‘fight’ in the Fighting Irish.

The head coach is supposed to rally his troops and focus them on the task at hand. But Weis’ teams have been anything but focused.

To be sure, his men have challenged that stigma this year by winning three of 5 games in the closing minutes of battle.

But there remains an uneasy aura that Weis-led teams cannot get up for big games when it matters the most.

I have always liked Charlie Weis as a person and admired his willingness to transform his stubborn personality. After all, he has not hesitated to dismiss underperforming assistant coaches (see John Latina and Jappy Oliver) or alter part of his coaching philosophy (from no hitting in practices to demolition derby).

Make no mistake about it – his personality will not be the reason for his departure. His win-loss record will.

I’m not sure what the powers that be have in store for Weis but I know that a few more losses this season will only add to the case against keeping him on the payroll.

I hope he pulls himself up from last weekend, leads the Irish to victories in each of its final regular season games, and closes out the year with a Gator Bowl victory.

As Weis said at the start of the year, though, “don’t tell me about expectations, show me.”

It’s now or never for Weis. A win this weekend against Pittsburgh, which would qualify as Notre Dame's first against a top 10 opponent since Weis' first year win at then #3 Michigan, will almost certainly buy him one more season.

Losing is not an option. Time to make it happen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nike; Virginia Tech Unveil New Football Uniforms

So the day arrived. This morning in a rather large-scale production on campus featuring head football coach Frank Beamer, former Tech greats Antonio Freeman and Bruce Smith, along with the Voice of the Hokies Bill Roth and a giant Nike army vehicle, unveiled the uniforms Tech will wear this weekend as part of Nike's "Pro Combat" promotion.

The uniforms will be auctioned off starting tomorrow to raise money for Herma's Readers, Frank Beamer's charity encouraging reading for kids grades K-3. He started to honor his late mother who was a schoolteacher in the Commonwealth.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and linebacker Cody Grimm modeled the new kits in front of a crowd of students likely wondering what all the hoopla was about.

The best part is probably the white helmet, which is a nice modernized version of some of Tech's older helmets. The obsessive compulsive in me wishes they'd made the middle stripes symmetrical though.

Not surprisingly, the Nike cleats are also super cool looking. Inside they have the school motto, "Ut Prosim" which means "That I May Serve" along with the Hokie Stone pattern seen on the gloves posted the other day.

While they may look a little too new age for some, I'd vote in favor of them over the current stupid Nike uniforms (which we thankfully never wear). Good news is, it sounds like Nike is on board with making our throwback threads our permanent jersey's next season.

Also, these new Nike threads are not just strange looking, they're incredibly high-tech. Through some super technological advances, these pro combat unis barely hold water or sweat, so a soaking wet jersey weighs less than the current ones do dry.

Thanks a bunch science!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Recap

So my picks absolutely tanked. 2-3 for the weekend and Georgia Tech should have lost too if not for Riley Skinner taking a sack at the end of regulation to take Wake out of field goal range.

Also, this won't come as a shock to anyone but Penn State sucks. Play a real non-conference schedule Joe Pa you fossil and maybe you won't lose to average Big Ten teams like Iowa and Ohio State (though the Buckeyes are in fact the conference's best while Iowa is a sham).

The Irish did not have a good day yesterday against the Naval Academy (one of my favorite non-Hokie teams). ND gave a valiant effort late, but it just wasn't quite enough to overcome the Midshipmen.

Brian made a partial post that appeared it was going to rail on Charlie Weis, but I took it down for now. I'm quite certain we'll get Brian's full thoughts in the coming week.

And now the most important part of my post, it would appear the Hokies will be wearing white helmets next weekend when they thump Maryland if you take a look at this new merchandise.

Friday, November 6, 2009

College Football Quick Picks: Week 10

After a perfect 5-0 effort last week, my season mark now sits at 30-20. With another nice effort this weekend I think we'll be in good shape the rest of the way.

On a side note, next weekend Nike is doing yet another football uniform promotion. About 10 schools will wear new Nike gear the weekend of the 14th.

The Virginia Tech ones will be unveiled this week to join schools like Texas, Ohio State and Florida State that have already made their versions public. The FSU ones are my favorite so far sporting those sweet gloves and some really classy lookin' black helmets.

I'm both fearful and eager to see what Phil Knight has cooked up for the Techmen this time.

Time for the picks. I'm going to do them just like last week to try and keep things moving in a positive direction. It's sort of a weak slate of games but there are a few good ones including the battle for the Victory Bell in Chapel Hill. This is Duke's year finally*!

No. 3 Alabama defeats No. 9 LSU

No. 8 Oregon defeats Stanford

No. 11 Penn State defeats No. 16 Ohio State

Duke defeats North Carolina

No. 10 Georgia Tech defeats Wake Forest

* = Maybe

Here are the Tech gloves for loyal reader Bobby West. I'll post the actual uniform when it's revealed Monday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dolphins Take Bite Out of Orange

Not that this really matters because it was an exhibition game but I couldn't resist sharing the news for those of you who hadn't heard.

Syracuse lost to Le Moyne in men's basketball tonight. It's never good to lose a game to an opponent from a lesser division in collegiate sport but the Orange couldn't withstand the mighty Dolphins from across town in Syracuse, NY.

Le Moyne is a tiny Jesuit college founded in 1946. Syracuse made its first NIT appearance that same year.

The case for parity in collegiate athletics becomes stronger yet.

World Series

I've been pretty quiet on the Yankees run to this point. Now the World Series heads back to the Bronx where the Yankees will face the Phillies up three games to two.

This poll pretty much sums up the series to this point. Chase Utley (I voted for him) and Cliff Lee have been dominant, while Johnny Damon changed the series on one play.

Whether you're a fan of these teams or not, there has been some great baseball and Wednesday's game should pull out all the stops.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Brian vs. Justin - Week 9 CFB Predictions Tracker

For the first time in what seems like an eternity Notre Dame finally put away a team in the first half.

Jimmy Clausen continued to pad his Heisman candidacy stats by completing 22 of 27 passes for 268 yards and two TDs.

Golden Tate also showed why he's worthy of the sought after trophy with an unbelievable Hail Mary grab from Clausen at the end of the first half to give the Irish a 30-7 lead. Prior to that outstanding snag he bounced off of two Washington State defenders, leaving them confused and in his rearview mirror as he coasted to a TD run out of the Wildcat formation.

All in all there were only a few negatives to glean from the game: Ben Turk's 11 yard punt, Nick Tausch's blocked extra point attempt, Dayne Crist's injury, and the lack of ND campus shots as this marked the first in a series of neutral site "home" games for the Irish.

The same cannot be said for the Hokies, who suffered their third loss of the year with a crushing last-second home defeat to the North Carolina Tar Heels who recorded their first ACC victory of the season.

To be fair, the Tar Heels have turned into a talented program under the direction of Butch Davis. Had it not been for the unfortunate Ryan Williams fumble, however, the Hokies would have walked away with an Orange Effect victory. Williams is a tremendous back and I can't help but feel sorry for the guy who has elevated himself while filling in seamlessly for the injured Darren Evans.

Neither Justin nor I correctly picked the outcome of the Hokies' game but, as previously mentioned, we're left playing for pride and point totals as our records and remaining picks are identical.

We both sit at 12-4 for the year but have varying degrees of point differential accuracy. Justin is -50 while I am -93 with only nine regular season games left between the two teams (including the ACC championship).

In related news, prognosticators are projecting a Gator Bowl matchup between the Fighting Irish and the Hokies. If that theory comes to fruition my fiancee claims that "Stars and Slights would explode!" Personally, I would love to meet up against the Hokies in a bowl game especially since the two schools have never played against one another.

As long as both teams keep winning we very well might see that explosion.

Go Hokies, Go Irish!


Related Posts with Thumbnails