November 09, 2009
Following the weekend's conquered favorites and other notables through the stages of grief.
Denial. Nobody's denying that Charlie Weis is now responsible for both of Notre Dame's losses to Navy in the past 45 years, nor that ND's hopes for a BCS bowl have all but evaporated in the wake of the latest such upset on Saturday. But the causes for, and implications of, the loss are apparently still up for debate among members of the Irish faithful. Weis, who proudly assured the media after the game that "I never, ever change" regardless of the results on the field, may be the one in the biggest state of denial, if we can take Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo's assessment of Weis' scheme at face value:
"One thing that helped us, and I really hope this doesn't come across wrong, but I think the thing that helped us this year was last year, because we knew they'd line up the same way," Niumatalolo said.
"We had a pretty good clue that they were going to come back and do the same things as they did last year. We had a few things (planned for that defense)."
Obviously -- the Midshipmen rolled out 348 yards worth of "things" on the ground alone, with a 52-yard touchdown pass on one of their two completions. The denial extends far beyond the walls of Weis' press conferences, of course: Irish blog Brawling Hibernian, for example, is in denial about both Navy linebacker/cruise missile Ram Vela's seeming endless eligibility and the location of Jimmy Clausen's knees on the crucial goal line fumble in the third quarter that no one else is questioning. But Hibernian, along with the commenters at the ND blog Rakes of Mallow, is stone-cold sober about the high likelihood that Weis is toast after this season.
Start naming specific coaching prospects to Irish fans, though, and delusions of grandeur return in full bloom. Posters at the message board ND Nation can't seem to decide where to focus their hubristic presumption -- the idea that Urban Meyer would automatically drop everything and leave Florida for South Bend if the Irish showed even a hint of interest, or the idea that Notre Dame might actually be too good for a coach who only suspended his star linebacker for a half for eye-gouging. Irish blog Her Loyal Sons states its position on the issue rather definitively, instructing ND's fan base to "STFU about Meyer":
[T]here is not a COACH IN THE WORLD worse for ND than Urban Meyer. NOT ONE. Not Weis. Not anyone.
Iím not defending Weis here, Iím just saying STOP with the Meyer nonsense.
Not one coach in the world worse for Notre Dame? Not even Ty Willingham? At the risk of making light of Her Loyal Sons' apparent dedication to character and sportsmanship, it is the deeply considered prediction of "Profiles in Disillusion" that Notre Dame will soon be backing a semi truck full of cash up Meyer's Gainesville driveway, at which point the say effectively will be Meyer's, not ND's, as to whether he would make a suitable head coach for the Fighting Irish.
Depression. When your team begins the week ranked fourth in the BCS at 9-0 and finishes it with an injured quarterback in a home loss to unranked Northwestern, why beat around the bush? Hawkeye blog Black Heart Gold Pants went emo as early as halftime, summing up its dread with a Simple Plan song featuring the following lyrics:
So I try to hold onto a time when nothing mattered
And I canít explain what happened
And I canít erase the things that Iíve done
No I can't
How could this happen to me
I made my mistakes
Iíve got no where to run
The night goes on
At least BGHP was somewhat tongue-in-cheek about its theatrics, however. I'm not sure the same can necessarily be said of Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler, who apparently spent Saturday evening in deep examination of "Iowa's soul":
At 9-1, 5-1 in the league, the only thing Iowa really lost Saturday -- other than pride -- was a shot at the national championship game. Given the punditry's love for all things Florida and Texas, that was probably just a pipe dream, anyway. The rest is dangling by a thread.
Wow -- "dangling by a thread" talk and passive-aggressive potshots at the Gators and Longhorns just for good measure? That's the kind of melodrama a 15-year-old girl's diary would envy. When it starts coming from the local paper, it may be time to get Keeler on Zoloft, or at least a vacation at the end of the season.
Acceptance. Maybe this is just denial, too, but "Well, we've still got the Rose Bowl" seems to be a fairly common refrain among Oregon fans, even in the wake of their team's head-scratching 51-42 loss to Stanford. Such was the immediate postgame assessment of Duck blog Addicted to Quack, and Nick of Off the Pond alsovowed to "completely focus on the Rose Bowl," in addition to some other resolutions -- namely, to "stop caring about Iowa, TCU, Cincinnati, Boise State, Florida, Alabama and Texas," because he's "not so interested in the national picture anymore."
Understandable, but there might be a better reason, i.e. that his mental energy would be better spent focusing on Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State down the stretch: A loss to any of those teams could mean even the precious Rose Bowl invite gets plucked from Oregon's hands, and if Stanford can drop 500-plus yards on them, the Ducks aren't a lock to beat any of them.
Anger. Displays of wrath are hardly rare in the wake of home losses to Baylor -- some might even call them justified -- but if Rock M Nation's post from early Sunday morning is any indication, some of that fan anger might have gotten a little out of hand, particularly the spleen directed at quarterback Blaine Gabbert. In response, RPT dishes out some anger of his own:
This came on the heels of several Missouri tweeters, one in particular who I refuse to link to out of principle, condemning Missouri players on Twitter, particularly Blaine Gabbert. It quickly escalated, as Derrick Washington and others had to come to the aid of their quarterback, a quarterback that has clearly earned respect and trust in the locker room (which can't be overlooked). The flamer (double meaning) even went as far as to say directly to Gabbert online, "Do you not realize that no one likes you? You single handedly ruined our season."
Before I came up with the response above, my original reaction was "Are you F*****G KIDDING ME?"
Considering that Gabbert finished the Baylor game with an efficiency rating of 148.8 and still ranks in the top 25 nationally in total offense, a staunch defense of the young quarterback seems more than justified. Perhaps Mizzou fans' derisive tweets would be better directed at the defensive coaches who permitted a Robert Griffin-less Baylor offense off four straight losses to roll up 465 yards and 40 points on the Tigers? Not that we condone anything so impolite, of course.
Elsewhere in Disillusion: And the Valley Shook can't seem to decide whether to blame LSU's loss to Alabama on the refs or on, well, LSU. ... Crimson and Cream Machine assesses Oklahoma's sinking prospects after the Sooners' flop at Nebraska and gives some grudging props to Andre Ware (oh, it burns!) in the process. ... And in the greatest obscure reference of the week, Black Shoe Diaries invokes "The Simpsons" by busting out the pretzels for Penn State's coaches in the wake of the Lions' deflating loss to Ohio State.