CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Pat White had one more dazzling comeback in him before finishing his record-breaking college career.
White threw for 332 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Alric Arnett midway through the fourth quarter that sent West Virginia to a 31-30 win over North Carolina on Saturday in the Meineke Bowl.
The senior quarterback was voted MVP of a bowl for the third straight year and finished 4-0 in postseason games, helping West Virginia (9-4) overcome Hakeem Nicks’ big day for North Carolina to end a disappointing season on a positive note.
Nicks caught eight passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns for the Tar Heels (8-5), but T.J. Yates was intercepted by Pat Lazear with under 2 minutes left to end Butch Davis’ hopes of a bowl win in his second year at North Carolina.
Wow – Head Coach Charlie Weis seemed to have saved his job with the 27-21 win over Navy last week in Baltimore. Weis received positive feedback from first year Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick after the close win at Navy and he avenged Navy’s win at Notre Dame last season, a win that snapped a 43-game winning streak for the Irish in the rivalry.
But with this latest loss on Senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium to a horrible Syracuse Orangeman squad that had just fired its head coach, alum all across the country will be screaming for Weis’ head. Weis’s 5th loss of the season set up the Irish for a .500 season (assuming a loss at 28-point favorite USC on Saturday) and quickly put his name back in the mix for “fired Notre Dame head coach”.
First the game – Notre Dame was a 20 point favorite at home against the 1-8 Syracuse team. Notre Dame led 23-10 at the start of the 4th quarter. Cameron Dantley, son of famous Notre Dame hoops star Adrian Dantley, threw the game-winning touchdown against the Irish – an 11-yard pass to Donte Davis with only 42 seconds left in the game. Dantley completed only 13 of 25 passes for 126 yards, but did just enough to steal the victory from the Irish. Notre Dame had a chance to win the game on a 53-yard kick by Brandon Walker, but his attempt came up just short as time expired. Walker had already missed 2 field goals during the contest, and ended the day making only 3 of his 6 field goal attempts.
Jimmy Clausen had another productive day as Notre Dame’s quarterback. Clausen completed 22 of 39 passes for 291 yards. He threw 2 long touchdown passes to wide receiver Golden Tate, who ended the day with 7 catches for 146 yards. But it wasn’t enough.
The 24-23 loss to Syracuse marked the 1st time in school history that Notre Dame lost to a team with 8 losses. The 14 losses in Charlie Weis’ 2-year span in 2007 and 2008 is the most ever in school history. Notre Dame is 28-20 under Weis – good for a 58% winning percentage. Bob Davie (after 5 years as Head Coach) and Tyrone Willingham (after only 3 years as Head Coach) were both fired when their winning percentages hit that 58% mark. So is Weis’ job on the line?
Weis has recruited well the last 2 years. His 2009 class is also expected to be one of the best in the country. With talented players on his teams now, the poor results on the field might mean that Weis is a bad coach or that he has surrounded himself with a poor coaching staff. Either way, that falls directly on Weis. If the guy can’t coach, he needs to be replaced. Problem is, with the new 10-year contract extension, the buyout of Weis is astronomical – some reports have it close to $20 million. Can Notre Dame justify firing Weis for that dollar amount only 4 years into his stay at Notre Dame?
My recommendation – let him stay one more year – he’ll have 4 years of recruiting under his belt, as the entire 2009 team will be players that he has personally selected. The current team has several players that will likely play on Sundays once their collegiate careers are over (Floyd, Clausen, Tate), so Weis should be able to develop and coach the 2009 team to an 8 or 9 win season. If not, thank him for his efforts and start lining up candidates to replace him as soon as the season ends. With the talented crop of players awaiting the new coach, AD Swarbrick should have plenty of suitors looking to sign on to coach the Irish in 2010.
The latest Associated Press Poll is out.
Oklahoma crushed Texas Tech 65-21 in the big game of the week on Saturday night. The win catapulted the Sooners from 5 to 3 in the poll and put them in line for the BCS Championship game barring a loss to Oklahoma State on the road next weekend.
Alabama and Florida will face off in the 1st ever 1-2 SEC title game in 2 weeks time. The winner will play in another 1-2 match up in the BCS Championship Game in Miami.
Texas is on the outside looking in right now. Although Texas beat Oklahoma on a neutral field earlier this year, it looks like voters like the way Oklahoma has dominated teams of late. Texas recently lost to Texas Tech and has not looked as impressive as Oklahoma.
Stay tuned – the next few weeks should be interesting and answer a lot of questions…