The folks at Rakes of Mallow clipped an excerpt from yesterday's Boston College Wrap-up, and it led to a lot of comments over there. One of the comments, from Bob Gilleran, stated that I "lacked vision" and blamed all the current woes on recruiting problems dating back to Bob Davie. He thought the current coaches are doing a great job and that we should all be grateful to have them. I think Robert read a lot more into my criticism of offensive line play than was there, and I actually agree with much of what he posted. But he also threw out a challenge:
If there are, as you claim, many other college football programs out there that play the game with integrity and real student athletes and have done better than this 2007 team and their coaches this year, taking into account their killer opening schedule and the nearly complete absence of talent in their 2004 and 2005 recruiting classes, mention a few names and you will see that there are none.I did some quick looking about for the easiest way to answer Robert's challenge, and set forth below is what I posted in my reply over at Rakes (with minor editing for use here).
Most of what you wrote is true ...
... but not all of it, Robert.
True, the talent level in our upper classes is down. We aren't loaded with 4- and 5-star offensive linemen in the upper classes. But the guys we do have are quality Div-I athletes. Sully, Turk, Duncan were not total stiffs coming out of high school. Sam Young was VERY highly recruited (great get by CW!) and now has around 20 starts under his belt. Yet these guys are playing terribly as a unit. I am not saying they should be leading the nation in rushing yards. I am saying that we have enough talent and experience to at least be COMPETENT run blockers. Armando Allen, James Aldridge, Robert Hughes don't need big holes to get yards - they just need a crease. Instead, they are getting hit behind the line of scrimmage as soon as they get the ball.
As for other schools that "play the game with integrity and real student athletes and have done better than this 2007 team and their coaches this year" here are a few stats for you (I know how you hate facts). The following teams (in no particular order, and including Notre Dame) comprise the Top 10 programs for football graduation rates, as recently announced by the NCAA. (For comparison purposes, Notre Dame has a total of 225 rushing yards this season).
- Navy is 4-2 overall, and has rushed for 1,742 yards this season.
- Army is 3-4 and has 554 rushing yards.
- Stanford is 2-4 and has 772 rushing yards.
- Northwestern is 4-3 with 843 rush yards.
- Duke is 1-6 with 468 rush yards.
- Boston College is 7-0 and has 1,012 rushing yards.
- Wake Forest is 4-2 with 875 rush yards.
- Vanderbilt is 3-3 with 887 rush yards.
- Air Force is 5-2 with 1,823 rush yards.
So, of the Top 10 graduation rate football programs, Notre Dame has, BY FAR, the lowest rushing totals for the season. The closest teams to us (Duke and Army) still have more than DOUBLE our rushing yards.
Do I think that Notre Dame, even with a lower level of talent than usual, has less talented players in the offensive line than the teams listed above? Worse talent than all three service academies, Duke, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Stanford? No, I think that Notre Dame's offensive lineman have more talent than those teams. Yet, even if you factor in our very tough schedule to date, those teams are getting more out of their O-line talent than the Irish are.
Robert, as I wrote in my blog, I still think Coach Weis is the right man for this job. He has done an amazing job recruiting. But just as he had to make a tough call for the good of the team last year by bringing Corwin Brown in, he needs a new offensive line coach.
I think you are reading more into my post than is there. I am not criticizing anyone's character or their hard work or their heart. I am criticizing the results. The results on the field indicate that notwithstanding everything else, we need to try something else in coaching the O-line.