Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Is Charlie Weis arrogant or smart? It's not shocking to hear non-Notre Dame fans call head coach Charlie Weis arrogant. If you hate Notre Dame enough, you'd find something wrong with anyone they hired to coach that program. When media people start to turn on Weis, you can dismiss it as more anti-Notre Dame venom if you'd like, but it's at least worth noting.

Personally, I think Stewart Mandel makes a good point in his latest blog on SI.com. Mandel notes that Weis continues to refuse to name his starting quarterback for Saturday's opener against Georgia Tech, citing the fact that not naming his starter gives him a bit of an edge on the Yellow Jackets.

For those who haven't followed this battle, overhyped freshman Jimmy Clausen is battling redshirt freshman Demetrius Jones and junior Evan Sharpley for the starting job. No one thinks that Jones and Sharpley will be able to hold off Clausen for long, but since Clausen is coming off shoulder surgery and is still learning the offense, it's not expected that he'll start the opener. Sharpley appears to be the top candidate, as Jones is more of an athlete than a passer. Weis says he's had his mind made up for a long while, but he won't tell anyone. Mandel takes him to task, and justifiably so.

We live in an era where there are no secrets. Weis' offense is well-known to most opposing defensive coordinators. I highly doubt that Georgia Tech's coaches are trembling in fear over what they'll see on Saturday. They know what Weis will try to do to them, and unless Jones unexpectedly starts, they know they'll be facing a pocket-style quarterback. This isn't rocket science.
"Give the coach credit for one thing, however: he’s managed to create far more intrigue and attention surrounding his decision than should really be merited for an unranked, rebuilding team. That said, it’s fairly obvious at this point that Sharpley, the most experienced of the bunch, will start on Saturday. Perhaps Jones and Clausen will see action as well, but no one really believes Weis, a pro-style guy to the core, is suddenly going to start running the shotgun-spread so Jones can burn people on the QB draw, and clearly Clausen (whose throwing velocity, practice observers have noted, has not been the same as the other two) is not yet healthy enough to go full-time."
Ouch. Must sting a Notre Dame fan to read "unranked, rebuilding" in a description of the Irish. But it's true.

Georgia Tech might not beat the Irish on Saturday, but I think they've already won a portion of the battle. They've somehow convinced Weis that he has to withhold the identity of his starting quarterback to gain a competitive advantage.

As for Weis' purported "arrogance", I don't have any issues with that. Every coach at that level has a certain amount of arrogance. You can get away with it when your team wins. If Notre Dame goes 5-7 at some point, and Weis is still seen as "arrogant", criticism will be much increased.

There's no doubt the guy's smart. But that doesn't mean he's perfect. I would question until I'm blue in the face the need to do what he's doing now. I think it's just to play games with the fans and media, and to keep his unranked team in the headlines for a few days leading up to their opener against an underrated ACC team.

Maybe if we keep whining, they'll do something. Every year, every NFL team lines up to play two home preseason games, ripping off their season-ticket base by charging them full admission to see a bunch of guys who will be selling insurance in two weeks (no offense to those who sell insurance for a living!). And every year, everyone complains about this. Yet nothing has ever been done.

Peter King is wonderful, and he's smart enough after all these years to know that he can get a column out of this issue almost every year. So he does.

This year, he took a couple different ideas for "fixing" the obviously broken preseason format, and he asked those around the NFL in positions of influence to offer their thoughts.

King focused on three ideas.

1. Eliminate the preseason and play 18 games in the regular season.
2. Eliminate one preseason game and play 17 games in the regular season.
3. Eliminate two preseason games and play 18 games in the regular season.

Personally, I think a fourth idea should be in play. Owners should be ordered by the league to charge no more than 25% of the regular season admission price for preseason games. Those $54 seats in, say, New York for Week One can be no more than $13.50 for a preseason game.

Frankly, I see the preseason as important, even if guys like LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson aren't playing. It's important for coaches to let position battles play out in game situations, as well as every day in practice. There are things that happen in games that can't be easily duplicated in practice. For small-college and lightly-regarded prospects, preseason games are how jobs are earned.

Make the move, Doug. I've tried to behave myself and be patient with Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost. Someone started the obligatory firenedyost.com, and it wasn't me.

But enough is enough. Yost refuses to do the necessary homework on his opponents, he seems clueless as to how to put his own players in positions to succeed, and it's the same old story. Same old song and dance, my friend. The Brewers are a .500 team, at least until they start playing the Cubs this week, and much of it falls on Ned's shoulders. This marks the third time in the last four years (Ned gets a mulligan on the first year because it was a disaster trying to follow up on Davey Lopes and Jerry Royster) that the Brewers have fallen flat after the All-Star break. Is it always the players' fault? If so, at what point do these collapses fall on the manager?

In one game, he refuses to put in a warmed-up left-handed relief pitcher, even though the batter is appreciably worse against lefties, to the point where his team doesn't usually let him hit against lefties. In another, he pinch-hits right-handed Bill Hall for a left-hander against a left-handed pitcher who is appreciably worse against left-handed hitters. He's too stubborn in trusting his veteran players, and he takes too long to react to a string of bad play by making a lineup change. Well, he is some of the time. Other times, he overreacts to a bad game or two by benching a starter and saying that he "can't find any consistency".

He walked out on his media responsibility Sunday without saying much of anything, and he's been increasingly terse with reporters throughout the season. Now, I'm not about to say that a manager should be fired because he's a jerk to reporters. But when it appears to be a change in attitude, it might be a sign of impending doom.

Yost needs to go, and I'm afraid my suspicions last year - that this team wouldn't win with him as a manager - are being proven true this year, thanks to his lack of development as a strategist. Now, added on to that, it's starting to look like the players are turning against him.

OMG FOOTBALL!! College football conference picks are going up as they are done. I hope to have them all done by today or tomorrow. We only have the Sun Belt, WAC, and Indies left. If nothing else, I'll post my picks on the leagues and not get too much into storylines if time is limited. NFL previews will come next week.

I'll also talk some about UMD football this week, as the Bulldogs get started on Saturday night in Duluth.

Meanwhile, enjoy the newfangled old blog. Leave comments, send me thoughts, whatever. Just don't forget to interact.

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