Happy August to all of you! It's been a little slow around here at OC Domer, but I've been busy with my day job and just couldn't bring myself to write yet another story about not-very-bright students getting arrested by not-very-bright Indiana law enforcement officials for underage drinking at an off-campus party. My thoughts on the situation haven't changed a bit since my last rant on the topic in September of 2008.
The only thing I would add is this: Coach Kelly, you obviously still have a lot of work to do to to in teaching your players the right way to conduct themselves. And yes, I do hold the football team, who are attending the University on full scholarship, to a higher standard than I do the rest of the student body. To me, this incident also shows a lack of leadership on the team. Were there no upper-class players there who were willing to tell the underage players that they needed to put down the alcohol and drink the un-spiked punch instead? A lot of work to do.
But back to the crystal ball. I am getting ready to begin the arduous process of writing the OC Domer Pre-Season Spectacular post for 2010. In doing so, I went back and dusted off my pre-season predictions for the past several seasons (since the inception of the blog), and the results were so hilarious that I had to share them with you. The point of this exercise is to hopefully give you a good laugh, and to also serve as a slap across the face to me that will hopefully knock off my rose-colored glasses before I make any predictions for 2010.
Final Results: With young but talented players all over the field, and with new defensive coordinator Corwin Brown, the Irish basically win the games they won and lose the games they lost in 2006 (UCLA being the exception). But we don't get blown out by anyone. We aren't a Top 5 program yet, but at 10-3 overall, we end up just outside the Top 10 in the final polls of the season. Entering 2008 we are a Top 10 team fighting to become an elite Top 5 program.2007 Actual: 3 wins against 9 losses. Blown out by Georgia Tech (33-3), Penn State (31-10), Michigan (38-0), USC (38-0), Air Force (41-24). A triple-OT loss to Navy. The only wins against UCLA, Duke, and Stanford. A total, unmitigated disaster.
Conclusion. So, this is how I see the season playing out. Is it a prediction? Not really. It's just a thorough explanation of where I see the program and what I think I'm going to see. Might Charlie's Fighting Irish exceed my expectations? They could. The offensive line could be dominant, the QB play spectacular, the young receivers amazing. The front seven could be energetic AND stout. We could beat Michigan and UCLA, we might even surprise everyone with an improbable win over the Trojans. On the other hand, the O-line might not be what we need it to be. The young QBs and receivers might sputter. The front seven might give up too many yards in the running game. If that happens, we could lose to Georgia Tech, Penn State, MSU and BC. It could be a disaster. But, as one sage once said "That's why they play the games."
Final Thoughts. Do I really think Notre Dame will finish the 2008 season 11-1? No. While I sincerely believe the Irish could, or even should, win each of their first 11 games, I also expect that a team as young as the Irish will have some untimely penalties and turnovers, or just come out flat, and let a couple of games get away from them. Counting the likely loss to USC, I expect nine wins, give or take one. Of course, a lot has to go right for nine wins to happen. But after last year I figure the Irish are due a little luck.2008 Actual: 6 wins against 6 losses in the regular season, plus a nice win the the Hawaii Bowl to end our bowl game losing streak. This team was all over the map. Strong wins over Michigan, Purdue, Washington. Awful losses to North Carolina, Boston College, Syracuse. Only an impressive bowl win over Hawaii saved Charlie Weis' job.
I do pick Notre Dame as the favorite to win eleven of its twelve regular season games. Does that mean I think they will go 11-1? I certainly hope so, but that's where the "confidence" ratings included for each game factor in. Using the confidence ratings and a little math you can get a better idea of what outcome is more likely for the season win total, just like the guys in Vegas. Adding together the confidence ratings I assign to each game:2009 Actual: 6 wins and 6 losses, including four losses in a row to end the season against Navy, Pitt, U-Conn, and Stanford. Adios Charlie.
.80+.70+.60+.75+.90+.40+.70+.90+.75+.65+.75+.75 = 8.65 wins
Depending upon where you look, I've seen over/under win totals for Notre Dame set between 8.5 and at 9.0 wins, which is right in line with my own estimations as set forth above. I may be more optimistic or pessimistic than you, but I encourage you to try this yourself. Assign your own confidence values to each Notre Dame game and see what your personal over/under is for 2009. For me, 9 wins is what the Irish "should" achieve in 2009, all things being equal. If they earn less than nine wins, they have under achieved and only a very, very nice Bowl win would bring Coach Weis back in 2010. If they manage to win ten games, they will have beaten the odds in my view, and the extra win would have to be credited to Coach Weis who will have earned the chance to stay on as coach. If they win eleven or twelve, that would be a superior job of coaching and you'll need dynamite (or another year like 2007) to dislodge Charlie from the Gug.
What do I think will really happen? I bet the over. And got 25-1 odds on the Irish winning the Championship.
Conclusion: I cannot be trusted to evaluate the fortunes of the Notre Dame football team. For 2007, 2008, and 2009 I predicted the team would win 9, 9, and 9 regular season games, which translated into 3, 6, and 6 actual regular season wins on the field. Not very impressive. But I'll give it a go anyway later in the month. Don't say you weren't warned!
As an aside, I challenge all my Irish blogging brethren to post their past prediction performance along with their predictions for 2010, so we can have total transparency, just like the Obama administration.