At a time of the season when most college football teams are gearing up for conference championship games and prospective bowl bids, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish's season is over. With one final humiliation (and a team no-vote on a minor bowl) at the hands of ex-Michigan quarterback (and the intelligent choice for the future Wolverines' coach) Jim Harbaugh and the Stanford Cardinal, Notre Dame completed yet another season of disillusioning disappointment and slipped further away from the mists of their storied past.
But although Notre Dame Stadium falls silent as the winter winds descend upon the Midwest, all is not quiet on the campus in South Bend. In fact, the state of things football-wise is quite the opposite.
Coach Charlie Weis' firing was the first headline grabber of the premature offseason. But in reality, anyone who follows the team regularly saw that coming long before the proverbial ax fell on his five-year tenure. It was a major bowl or bust for Weis, and he fell notably short of that officially unspoken ultimatum. And thus — as was the case in the situations of his two slightly more successful (cringe) predecessors — Charlie Weis (another ex-savior/demi-god for a desperate fanbase) was fired.
Predictably, following that turn of events involving the coaching position, Notre Dame star juniors (and Weis recruits) Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate announced that they will forgo their senior seasons and register for the NFL Draft, partly on the advice of the dismissed coach himself. Irish fans (and old school college football fans in general in respect to their own programs of interest) would like to believe that players such as Tate and Clausen would return to a place of tradition on the level of Notre Dame for one final chance to bring home a national championship and finally restore the program to glory. But the reality is that the team-first perspective is outdated and virtually nonexistence (aside from Superma....Tim Tebow) in the modern generation of players. Young athletes see little difference between playing ball at Florida State or Central Florida when both are on TV regularly and both allow a near equal opportunity at passage into the NFL. The smaller schools provide more opportunites to play sooner and hence longer, padding statistics and increasing the chance of exposure, both to the media and to the consciousness of the decisionmakers for the various NFL franchises..