The Notre Dame faithful went into Saturday's game in South Bend against USC hoping to watch a revitalized Irish offensive
machine that would finally dispose of their most hated rivals, invading the midwest from across the country. But inevitably no echoes were awoken on this day. Instead it was the screams for Charlie Weis' termination that got a hell of a lot louder.
Seemingly unable to stick to a game plan, analyze risk vs. reward, or even call the correct plays (a duty he relieved his offense coordinator of before the season), Weis still has not beaten a highly ranked opponent in his time as head coach of the Irish. So despite another marquee game from Golden Tate (8 catches for 117 yards and 2 TDs) and a marvelous fourth quarter-comeback by quarterback Jimmy Clausen, the Irish were out-coached, outclassed, and inevitably beaten for an eighth straight time by Southern Cal.
The first half was an offensive disaster for the Irish. Frequently going with the wildcat formation (leaving their best player Clausen off of the field), Notre Dame stumbled their way to only seven points, largely the result of a fake-field goal near the end of the first quarter. The team looked to have no battle plan whatsoever, and when they did start to find some offensive congruity, Weis inevitably messed it up with his ridiculous play calling (see the Irish first possession of the 2nd half when they elected to get stuffed on 4th down rather than take the field goal points in a game where they were down only 13-7).
The second half was better offensively, with Clausen (260 yards 2 TDs on the day) slinging the ball all over the field and the Irish putting up 20 points to bring the game within a final play of victory. With three minutes remaining on the game clock Clausen took his team on a drive that could have cemented his name and his team in the prestigious annals of Notre Dame history. Instead the team would fall short again, making it to the 4-yard line before getting stopped four straight times. While one of those "stops" was a touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph that was incorrectly reviewed as out of bounds, the point is that with all of their offensive weapons Charlie Weis could not draw up a single play (or a combination of a couple, for that matter) to get four yards. Pathetic.
The Irish started the game running the wildcat formation and then it disappeared in the second half, even when the team was only four yards away from sending the game into overtime. And in fact, the Irish should have and would have been playing for the win had Charlie elected to kick the field goal at the start of the second half.
But instead, the coach who believes he can outsmart any opponent, once again outsmarted himself, and a talented Notre Dame team's season is the casualty of his ineptitude. This was a game the Irish team and their fans wanted, needed, and knew was possible to win. Instead, Weis and his staff (his defensive coordinator John Tenuta should be fired on the spot as his reckless blitzing left massive lanes for USC to throw through) have ruined another Irish campaign and relegated the program to a continuous purgatory of mediocrity. And that's not something the influential people at Notre Dame will accept, long term contract or no long term contract.