Before the season, it was assumed a 9-3 record would mean Charlie Weis would return for his sixth season as Notre Dame’s coach and a 7-5 mark or worse would mean Weis would be shown the door.
The question was what would happen if the Irish went 8-4 — and given the state of their season, that could end up being a very important question.
The Irish fell by two at home to Navy on Saturday and now are 6-3. That’s the second loss to the Midshipmen in three seasons — and that comes on the heels of a 43-game winning streak against Navy.
There are games remaining against Pittsburgh on the road, Connecticut at home and Stanford on the road. Frankly, a 7-5 finish looks more likely than anything else. Pitt and Stanford have balanced offenses. Notre Dame can beat both, but it will require shootout wins because the Irish defense won’t be able to hold up against the Panthers and Cardinal.
Notre Dame is not paying Weis to go 7-5. The Irish finished with a losing record in 2007 and went to the Hawaii Bowl in ’08. A 7-5 record in ’09 would mean incremental progress — extremely incremental progress. That’s not good enough.
This is Weis’ fifth season; these are his players. His offense is quite good, his defense quite bad. The problem: The defense is two recruiting classes away from being legitimate, but all those offensive stars are going to be gone by then.