Notre Dame Washington Football

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis will have a very good resume if and when he hits the job market this winter after the Fighting Irish wrap up their third consecutive mediocre-to-bad season in a few weeks.  He was a member of the coaching staff on four Super Bowl winning teams (one as an offensive assistant with the New York Giants in 1990 and three as the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots in 2001, 2003, and 2004). He also led the Fighting Irish, his alma mater, to major bowl games in his first two seasons in South Bend.

But time is running out on Charlie Weis.  It went down quickly after Weis’s second year, as the Irish struggled to a 3-9 record in 2007, the school’s worst in its illustrious football history. In 2008, Notre Dame started the season 4-1, only to lose five of their last seven games and finish the regular season at 6-6, the epitome of mediocrity.  This season, the Irish were returning a lot of talent and the talk around South Bend was that anything less than 10-2 and a trip to a Bowl Championship Series bowl game would be a major disappointment.  Well, disappointment now reigns in northern Indiana as the Irish have struggled to a 6-4 record thus far this season after Saturday night’s loss against Pittsburgh.  The Irish are already bowl eligible, and will be invited to a post season game no matter what they do.  And that’s a good thing because Notre Dame plays Connecticut and suddenly resurgent Stanford in its final two contests.

It is widely assumed that Weis will be fired either after the Stanford game or after the Irish play in a bowl game, which will bring to an end one of the oddest coaching careers in college football history.  Midway through his first season at the helm at Notre Dame, Weis was given a 10-year extension to his contract to remain the Notre Dame coach, something Weis’s predecessor, Tyrone Willingham, was never offered despite going 8-0 to start his first campaign in South Bend.  Weis bragged that his NFL pedigree would give the Irish a distinct tactical advantage every week when playing against college competition, but in the last three years, the Irish are just 16-19, have lost to Navy two of the last three seasons, and have never beaten USC in Weis’s tenure. We at A Casual Fan have a hard time rooting for anyone to lose a job.  These coaches have families and the speculation must be hard on Weis’s assistant coaches, whose jobs are also tied to Weis’s success.  But Charlie Weis, by accepting that extension and by boasting about his intellectual superiority in the realm of football, has made his own bed.  He’ll probably land on his feet, becoming the offensive coordinator for some NFL team next season.  But we’re willing to bet the house that he will not be back prowling the sidelines for his alma mater next season.

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In all honesty, there are very few must-see events on the sporting calendar on Saturday. There is some college football action, but nothing to write home about.  So if you want to do anything with your sports fan we strongly suggest that you do so tomorrow.  The NFL returns on Sunday, and we all know that means.  Add in the fact that the Colts ad Patriots will be going at it on Sunday night, and we would urge you to make alternate plans for Sunday night. Here’s our guide to what’s on tap.

1. The Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots have played each other every year for the last seven years, and the two winningest teams on the decade will renew hostilities on Sunday night.  This rivalry features the two best quarterbacks in the league, bar none, in Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and New England’s Thomas Edward Brady Jr. The Colts enter this game unbeaten at 8-0, while the Patriot are 6-2, but have won their last three games.  This one should be very entertaining.  Don’t expect your average sports fan to be doing anything else on Sunday night.  It’s a good thing the Mad Men finale was last week.

2. If the Colts-Pats game is the main event on Sunday night, the NFL does have a few rather interesting games on the undercard in the afternoon.  The Cincinnati Bengals will travel to Pittsburgh to face the defending champion Steelers at 1 p.m. in a game that will determine the leader in the AFC North.  The Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off a terrible loss to the Dallas Cowboys, will travel to the west coast to face the suddenly resurgent San Diego Chargers.  And the Dallas Cowboys will square off against the reeling Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin.

3. When the best game on the college football schedule is a match-up between Texas Christian and Utah, you know that this is not a banner week on the collegiate gridiron.  But still, there are a few games this weekend that could get in the way of your best laid plans.  Tonight, Cincinnati will put its unbeaten record on the line when the Bearcats face West Virginia at 8 p.m.  This is the beginning of a brutal final stretch for Cincy as they play both the Mountaineers and number 12 Pitt in their final three games, with a home date against pesky Illinois sandwiched between those two league contests.  Speaking of Pitt, they wil go up against Notre Dame on Saturday night in a game that may very well determine the future of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. (more…)