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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Beating Duke and Stanford Save Notre Dame and Weis Already Bad Year

People are still calling for Weis to be fired after the worst year in Notre Dame history.

Irish just said 'no' to losing

Last two games allowed Notre Dame to kick the losing habit.

South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

As Terrail Lambert sat in the Guglielmino Athletics Complex early last week, the possibility of a letdown against Stanford was posed, considering the Irish were coming off a victory over Duke.

The cornerback metabolized his ideas before offering a thoughtful response.

"As humans, it's said that we're the only creatures that are never satisfied in terms of hunger and desire," Lambert said. "It's almost like a drug. You get that win and you want to get it again."

The problem with the 2007 Notre Dame football team, as Irish fans and the college football world know, was that it made a habit of losing.

It lost in blowout fashion. It lost close games. It lost to teams to which it was expected to lose. It lost to teams it was supposed to beat.

It lost nine times, the most of any Notre Dame team in the history of the program. Further perspective? Jesse Harper lost a total of five times in five seasons, Knute Rockne 12 times in 13 years, Elmer Layden 13 times in seven years, Frank Leahy 11 times in 11 seasons and Ara Parseghian 17 times in his 11-year run.

Losses to Michigan and USC, the lofty measuring sticks on the schedule, were 38-point identical twins. Boston College beat the Irish by 13 points. Michigan State whacked the Irish. Same for Penn State. Purdue, a team easily handled during the first two years of the Weis Era, was two touchdowns better than the Irish. At the beginning, Georgia Tech had set the table for the losing ways.

And when November rolled in, the month Notre Dame was supposed to salvage a lost season and make the final record look un-horrible, the seeds of losing had been sown.

Certainly this wouldn't be the team to lose to Navy, would it? It was, and once that happened, a loss to Air Force seemed inevitable. And admit it, you weren't completely convinced about a win over Duke in the days leading up to the game, were you?

Why? Because by then this team looked like it had learned how to lose. Coaching decisions -- in-game and philosophical -- were partly to blame. An unsteady line crippled what the offense could do, and its failures seeped over to the defense in terms of time of possession and turnovers. By mid-November, this was a bad football team -- one that looked nothing like the 2005 and '06 teams that stomped the patsies on the schedule; and one that, when things were going good, it rolled.

Lambert was a member of both of those Irish teams, and he knows how the wins fed off themselves.

"You want it in larger doses after time because it's something you get accustomed to," Lambert said. "We're all creatures of habit."

Two springs ago, the motivational slogan was that the 2005 record of 9-3 was not good enough, implying that one loss a month would not cut it.

That habit looks a lot better than one win a month.


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