By Brendan Loy
In the immediate aftermath of Notre Dame’s dramatic win over Purdue on Saturday, I tweeted, “And Purdue saves Charlie Weis’s job by calling a terrible timeout that probably cost them the game. Irish win!” Stewart Mandel expands on this thought:
If Notre Dame, now 3-1, winds up reaching the BCS promised land, affording Charlie Weis many more years of his $4 million salary, he should personally cut a check to his Purdue counterpart, who committed one of the all-time clock management blunders Saturday night.
With the Boilers leading 21-17, 37 seconds remaining and Notre Dame out of timeouts, Irish running back Robert Hughes was stopped at the Purdue two-yard line on second-and-goal. Weis was fully planning to have quarterback Jimmy Clausen spike the ball to stop the clock — but [Purdue coach Danny] Hope did it for them. He called time out, preserving third down for the Irish.
“That helped us out a little bit right there,” Weis said.
You think? Following an incompletion, Clausen hit tight end Kyle Rudolph on fourth-and-goal for the game-winning score. Season saved, crisis averted.
“I just wanted to have enough time to run a couple of plays [after Notre Dame scored],” said Hope, apparently not a huge believer in his defense. “If I looked at the situation again maybe it wasn’t a great idea.”
Indeed not. But the result was great for the Irish. And if it leads to even greater things — well, it wouldn’t be the first time in recent years that an opposing team’s poor coaching saved Notre Dame’s season and propelled Weis & co. to a BCS bowl.
Remember the monsoon game at Michigan State in 2006? If John L. Smith & co. don’t “ask Drew Stanton to run the option in Hurricane Katrina,” Notre Dame doesn’t win that game, doesn’t arrive at the Coliseum 10-1 (with an obviously, predictably inflated #6 ranking), and doesn’t finish 10-2 and earn a Sugar Bowl berth even after the ritual drubbing by USC.
Indeed, to put it even more starkly: if Slappy wasn’t such a bad coach, Charlie Weis wouldn’t have that all-important “took the Irish to two BCS bowls” line on his resumé as a counterweight to the immense crappiness of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and therefore might conceivably not have a job right now.
Here’s hoping Purdue’s blunder proves as significant to ND’s fortunes as Michigan State’s did. GO IRISH! BEAT HUSKIES! (And then LOSE TO TROJANS! And then WIN ALL THE REST OF YOUR GAMES! But let’s just beat the Huskies, and then we’ll get to all that in due course…)
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