Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Thursday, January 4

Irish Play To Talent Not Expectations

In the end, Notre Dame lost like you knew it would. In the end, Louisiana State exposed all the vulnerability that made the Irish the worst of the BCS bowl teams.

Yes, that sounds harsh, but, in truth Notre Dame played to its potential. The problem was the expectations were so high, the belief so strong, that this group was national championship material.

It was not, of course. Remember, this remains a game of talent more than coaching. Former coach Tyrone Willingham's last recruiting class was not loaded with prime-time talent. Neither was current coach Charlie Weis' first group.

Notre Dame got hammered by LSU and USC and Michigan this season not because of scheme deficiencies or gambles gone bad, but by a lack of elite players.

That is changing. The current group of highly touted freshmen is likely to be the cornerstone of a resurgence. Weis is lining up another strong class, and likely will continue to do so.

In fact, if you want to see some of the new talent, check out Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The San Antonio game will feature as many as eight Irish recruits, including stud quarterback Jimmy Clausen of California.

Don't expect a BCS bowl next year. After that, things will get interesting. After that, we might see just how good a Weis-coached team can be.


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