One disgraced West Coast school is going on its third coach in four years, while in the depths of NCAA probation and coming off the worst season in its history.
|Ty Willingham's Huskies welcome Notre Dame to Seattle on Sept. 24. (AP)|
So whose future do you like better, Washington's or Notre Dame's? That seems to be a logical and significant question, considering Ty Willingham is a central figure at both schools -- fired from one and hired by the other within a span of 12 days.
The answer is easier to digest than the above spin, so let's make this real easy: Washington will be in a Rose Bowl again before Notre Dame is another national championship game.
The Rose (Washington) and national championship (ND) are the expected standards at each school. The Huskies, dragged down momentarily by the Rick Neuheisel scandal, will be fine. But Sunday's events were the next evolutionary football hiccup that will eventually land the Irish in a conference, perhaps by the end of the decade.
Never mind Washington's multiple coaching personalities; Notre Dame redefined the term "turnover margin." It has its fourth coach in 36 months. That's four staffs, four philosophies, four offenses, four defenses -- and inevitably a fourth messy press conference announcing another change. All since Dec. 1, 2001.
The next victim, err, shot-in-the-dark, err, guy to take Kevin White's call is New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. The new guy is long on glitter (those two Super Bowl rings) but short on experience.
Weis' only head coaching experience was with Franklin Township (N.J.) High in 1989. You'd think that running a program would be more important to a school where both Knute Rockne and the board of trustees watch from on high. Or maybe no one else would say yes.
The school was so desperate that it had to dip into the general student population this time. Weis, a 1978 Notre Dame grad, never played for the Irish. However, he did serve as a "consultant" in 1999 for a video game called NFL Quarterback Club.
Or at least that's what his resume said. Notre Dame officials are no doubt still busy triple checking that factoid -- just for old time's sake.
Nothing against Weis, but when is it going to end? This football tailspin is inexorably going to force to school to join a conference sooner than later. The losing will beget, at least, a decrease in rights fees from NBC, if not an end to the contract altogether.
After that, what's the point of playing that killer schedule? As an independent, if Notre Dame goes 8-3 it might play in the Gator Bowl in any given year. If Notre Dame goes 8-3 in a conference, it would play in the Fiesta Bowl by winning the right games. Ask Pittsburgh.
And it's no news flash that the BCS commissioners probably are going to remove Notre Dame's cushy BCS entry requirements beginning in 2006. The school did itself no favors by considering, for a day, whether it would play in the Insight Bowl after Willingham's firing. By not playing, Notre Dame would have become the first school to not show after signing a contract.