Did Notre Dame bail on bowl game for fear of getting embarrassed?

Hey, I get it – it’s been a rough year in South Bend. The team was yet again a disappointment, expectations weren’t met and the head coach was fired after months/years of speculation that he would eventually be kicked to the curb.

But if you’re Notre Dame, why not accept a bid to go to a bowl game this year?

On Friday, ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that the school has decided against going to a bowl game with a 6-6 record, citing that without a head coach and offensive coordinator, the school wouldn’t have an experienced play caller for the game. Swarbrick also pointed out that the school would likely have lost money because their only option would have been a minor bowl.

The offensive coordinator excuse is logical, but the bit about losing money holds little water given how much loot Notre Dame just threw at Charlie Weis to get the hell out of town.

That said, one would think that the Irish seniors would want to strap it up for one last game together and try to go out as winners. If it were up to the players, I would have to assume that they would want to play – especially players like Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate, both of whom might be heading for the NFL draft in April.

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Will Kelly ditch Cincinnati for Notre Dame before bowl games?

The Chicago Sun Times is speculating that Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly could leave the Bearcats in the dust and coach Notre Dame in a bowl game if the two parties come to a contract agreement following the firing of Charlie Weis.

Backstage speculation is brewing that Kelly might resurrect an old trick and forsake whatever venue the bowl-bound Bearcats earn and instead drop shillelagh to stay through the holidays and beyond in South Bend.

That means Kelly could stage- manage his first game for the Fighting Irish later this month if they accept a minor bowl bid. The short list of interested committees reportedly includes those from the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26, the EagleBank Bowl in Washington on Dec. 29, the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, on Dec. 30 and the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 6.

‘I think it could happen again,” said Tom Beck, the longtime Midwestern coach (Notre Dame, Illinois, Marv Levy’s Chicago Blitz) who gave Kelly his first significant college football job at Grand Valley (Mich.) State in 1987. ”There is no question Brian could be facing a real conflict. If Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh this weekend, they go to a BCS game. But Notre Dame, I’m sure, wants to hire and implement as quickly as possible.

”The Notre Dame job would be his new long-term challenge. Then there’s the fact he’d be moving to an 80,000-seat stadium from one that seats somewhere around 38,000. And the budgets at the two schools are in no way comparable.”

This is all just speculation but as the article points out, Kelly has already left one program (Central Michigan) right before its bowl game in order to join a bigger, better job (Cincinnati), so what’s from stopping him from doing it again this year? (Especially now that the bigger, better job is Notre Dame.)

If Kelly ditched Cincinnati for Notre Dame, he would spawn from the Bobby Petrino and Rich Rodriguez school of thinking in that loyalty means absolutely nothing in college football. He would once again look like the deserter he is, but mid-level schools are always aware that their head coach will be sought after by bigger programs.

Putting that aside, I would be intrigued by what Kelly could do for the Irish over the next couple years. The guy has a proven track record of turning programs around (Grand Valley State, CMU, Cincinnati) in a short period of time and he understands how to build a winner on the college level. His offensive system is perfect for college football and he could re-introduce Notre Dame to the fundamentals of the game, which have been lacking over the past couple years.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Notre Dame fires Charlie Weis

In a move that will shock next to nobody, Notre Dame fired head coach Charlie Weis on Monday according to NBC Sports.com.

In the end, Weis went 35-27 in his five years as Irish head coach, a .565 winning percentage that was worse than the .583 posted by his two predecessors, Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie. They were both fired, too. He leaves with one of the worst winning percentages of any Fighting Irish coach: Only four of Notre Dame’s previous 27 coaches won at a lower percentage.

Among the people considered likely candidates are Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly, TCU coach Gary Patterson and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. The task for athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who is in his second year on the job, is to find a coach who can end the longest title drought in Notre Dame history.

It’s amazing to think that when it’s all said and done, Weis was one of the worst to ever coach at Notre Dame. He got off to such a promising start, but his crop of recruits never panned out (save for quarterback Jimmy Clausen and receiver Golden Tate), especially on the defensive side of the ball.

It’ll be interesting to see where Weis will wind up after this. My guess would be in the NFL as an offensive coordinator, but I’m sure smaller programs would love to have him as their head coach. If he does stay in the collegiate ranks, it would be interesting to see if he would have any success or if his future is in the NFL as a coordinator.

I would like to see what Brian Kelly could do at Notre Dame. The man turned little known Grand Valley State into a D-3 powerhouse, Central Michigan in a MAC champion and Cincinnati into a national title contender. That’s not to say that he’ll have success at Notre Dame too, but give him three years and I’m willing to bet that he’ll make a winner out of the Irish yet again.

That said, it would also be nice if a coach like Kelly showed a little loyalty to his program. He left CMU in the lurch right before the Motor City Bowl a couple years ago and to coach at Notre Dame, he would have to do the same to Cincinnati. I realize the opportunity to coach at Notre Dame doesn’t come around often for head coaches, but the Bearcats finally have something brewing and Kelly is the reason for that.

Again, it would be nice to see a college coach stick around for longer than 2-3 years before screwing their program.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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