Some notes on the team that takes the field with a "decided schematic advantage."
--The 1-9 Domers are sitting 103rd in the Sagarin ratings this week. This puts them just above 7-3 Hofstra, who are 16th among teams from the Championship Sub-division (1-AA). The Irish are thus a "playoff-caliber" team. Barely.
--The question on everyone's mind after Air Force did the business in South Bend on Saturday: "Would Notre Dame be an underdog at home next week vs. Duke?" The answer is no: ND is currently a 5 point favorite for this bottom-ten tussle. Although the doormats of the ACC would appear to be a walkover for anyone, Irish fans shouldn't get too comfortable: Duke gave Navy fits before losing on a last-second field goal.
--Notre Dame made a historic mistake when they hired Charlie Weis, for in doing so, they imported the dreaded chicken curse. A little-known and under-appreciated fact is that Weis was an assistant coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks in the late 1980s. His subsequent rise with the NFL's Patriots certainly created an identification problem.
Question: Who is great?
a) Belichick; b) Brady; c) Weis; d) all of the above; e) a&b only.
It also pushed the problem of Gamecockiness below the surface. But with Weis' return to the land of college football, the chicken curse emerged with a flourish. And in classic curse fashion, with two BCS Bowl appearances teasing the faithful, before the inevitable, horrifying crash. The curse is mighty busy these days, having finished the career of former ND coach Lou Holtz, with another work in progress. It's a powerful thing, I'm tellin' ya!
--Next question: What do former NFL coaches Bill Callahan (dead man walking at Nebraska), John Mackovic (4-7 at Texas), and Charlie Weis have in common? Other than losing spectacularly at powerhouse programs, they've had a pronounced tendency to bury their head in a play chart while pacing the sideline.
--Weis' response after the defeat by Air Force: to "do a deeper level of thinking than you've done in the past." Oh dear me. This team is truly in serious trouble. A little more Les Miles and a little less playbook is surely in order for the Schematic Irish.