Sunday, November 29, 2009

Run, Jimmy, Run! Good Timing for Clausen to Leave Irish


Outside of C.J.’s pub in South Bend, a crazy individual refused to appreciate what Jimmy Clausen has accomplished under polarizing Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. Instead, that individual expressed his anger and gave the Irish’s starting quarterback a black eye.

Constant debates have been had in the last few weeks on whether Clausen forgoes his senior season and leaves behind the chaotic memories at Notre Dame.

Unsure of his future arraignments, Clausen might walk away from the Irish after becoming a Fighting Irish as he and his girlfriend left the bar, where a sinless individual cowardly punched Clausen in the face.

Then, the heartbreaking loss to Stanford in the season finale on Saturday night before losing to Connecticut a week ago in an upset, is another reason for Clausen to wave bye-bye and ditch school, in which a decision on Weis’ future remains in limbo until an official announcement is made sometime this week.

Amid turbulence at arguably the premier program in the country, tradition has been toppled as Notre Dame is in crisis. Even more pathetic is how Clausen has been faulted, humiliated, and bullied for someone else’s blunders. Before all this, he was popular around campus, and was even worthy of earning his own masterpiece as beautiful as Touchdown Jesus.

Weis groomed Clausen, which reminds us of the direction the fingers should point when accusing someone for the program’s humiliations in recent years. Because the Irish failed during Clausen’s stint doesn’t mean losing is his fault, and most of the pitfalls have been from poor coaching.

Weis’ arrogance is too soft to guide a demanding program comprised of ambition and historic victories. Clausen was too gifted, committing to a preeminent school where his confidence and poise was expected to change the dimension of Notre Dame’s dreadful mockery, a serious crisis describing the Irish’s struggles in the last few years.

After two seasons of miserable plights, Clausen is eligible to declare for the NFL Draft in April. He has nothing to lose, escaping an unbalanced program in need of a compelling coach, inclined to bear a mental challenge to restore an identity within the depleted program.

The Irish, in prior seasons, have been devoid of a national title, but earned a fair share of bowl games. To a school committed to winning on the national stage, earning a bowl game lower than the national title game isn’t reaching expectations.

This season saw the Irish take gigantic steps backwards and own a 6-6 record in which Notre Dame only qualifies for a bowl game if the system runs out of 7-5 teams. It’s a tough situation for a program used to dominating or finishing near the top of the BCS polls.

As chaotic as the BCS system is, the Irish lost out weeks ago when a loss to Navy elicited skeptics, ridiculing the much-dignified program as doubters believed they were doomed. The track record at Notre Dame isn’t pretty, of which the school’s brand name isn’t anywhere near prestige.

Within a five-year span, the Irish interviewed more coaches than a brand name corporation hiring someone to work nightshift positions on a regular.

There was Tyrone Willingham, who lasted only three years before he was dismissed. His departure never settled too well, with many believing it was more of racial bias, not a coaching change to enhanced success in the future.

His predecessor, Bob Davie, didn’t last long either, replaced in five seasons.

Then, Weis arrived as if he was the genius of football, leaving behind the NFL lifestyle to finally go solo in coaching. Seemingly, he’s not nearly as effective when he ran superb offensive systems behind Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells.

When he first arrived to Notre Dame, it seemed he was capable of handling a demanding job.

Early on he averaged a decent winning percentage in his first two seasons. But suddenly, mystique and gratitude crippled America’s football team, bringing forth lingering questions of Weis’ future with the Irish.

It disrupted half of the season, as Clausen’s name early in the year was mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate.

Outplayed in most of the games, the Heisman talk gradually died down and Weis’ job status absorbed spotlight. Most of the season, a circus transpired and created an infamous frenzy surrounding Weis.

Other important aspects were put on the backburner, wondering if Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops is next to coach a distraught program or Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly. Finding a successor is tough, because of the Irish’s demands and values.

No later than this week, the job probably will open immediately and Stoops is a household name to replace Weis. Although he has failed to capitalize in big games, he’s a profile coach who's known for changing the mood within a program, as well as Brian Kelly, who’s responsible for the fifth-ranked Bearcats' storybook season and makes less than $1.5 million a year.

Yet, he’s close to leading Cincinnati to a second straight BCS bowl game, with a 33-6 record in three year. Any coach who takes on the job will demand an enormous contract, but thus far, athletic director Jack Swarbrick hasn’t contacted anyone about the position. As of now, Stoops is locked in a contract with Oklahoma through 2015 for an amount of $30 million.

Rumor has it he won’t opt out of his contract to revamp a struggling program.

As emotions and body language described the type of season the Irish has witnessed, Clausen emerged into a high first-round NFL draft pick.

He’ll make the big dollars next season, if he avoids all the troubles in South Bend. He’ll either land with the St. Louis Rams or Oakland Raiders, two teams suffering with similar issues as the Irish.

Equipped offensively, Notre Dame rarely showcased their explosive tandem of receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. To end the season, the Irish were humiliated and pulverized by the muscular and bodybuilder Toby Gerhart at Stanford Stadium.

Did the country forget about Clausen? Absolutely!

He has definitely grown and mellowed as a top-profile quarterback, showcasing better precision and awareness. During a stint when the Irish aren't a viable threat, Clausen emerged into the team’s inspirational leader and athletic figure, completing downfield passes with indescribable arm strength.

Clausen has some competition though. In the same year the upperclassmen depart the campus lifestyle, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, or Sam Bradford could be selected after Clausen if he runs away from the troubling mess at Notre Dame.

Now marks the perfect time for Clausen to escape all burdens, and rise to the next level.

Sure enough, the NFL will accept him. It’s a league that greatly appreciates up-and-coming stars, and he is quickly growing. And he has definitely outgrown the Irish, a program in much uncertainty.

At least running from the Irish, Clausen won’t have to deal with the drama.