Even in defeat, Weis proves his worth to Fighting Irish

Commentary

October 16, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

Let's get something straight. I'm not a big fan of new Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, but there was little question about his coaching ability after yesterday's heart-wrenching 34-31 loss to No. 1-ranked USC.

Weis created a game plan that kept the ball away from the terrific Trojans offense for most of the afternoon, and the Fighting Irish - a double-digit underdog entering the game - came within a heartbeat of ending USC's 27-game winning streak in front of Touchdown Jesus, a national television audience and one very stressed out USC fan in Millersville.

It was a devastating defeat, but it still proved that Weis has turned the Irish program on a dime and that Notre Dame is back to being a premier college football power.

Everyone knows that my favorite college football team wears cardinal and gold ("All Hail," indeed), but this game would have been an instant classic if it had gone either way.

I suppose they have to wait around until the end of the college football season, but they might as well box up that Heisman Trophy and send it to USC running back Reggie Bush right now. The Trojans' vaunted offense was stymied time after time, and Bush delivered big play after big play to keep the defending national champions alive until quarterback Matt Leinart could pull off another amazing comeback.

Baltimore's Ambrose Wooden was very prominent in the first-half turnaround by the Fighting Irish, stopping a halfback pass that could have led to a touchdown and then deflecting a Leinart pass in the second quarter that was intercepted by a teammate in the Notre Dame end zone.

Though I used to think Michelle Wie eventually would end up on the men's PGA Tour, I'm having second thoughts after she shaved a stroke or two off her score Friday with her novel "I'm a little girl and I'm afraid of bees" gambit at the LPGA Samsung World Championship in Palm Desert, Calif.

OK, she didn't actually say that, but Wie - in her first event since turning professional at age 16 - got relief after hitting her tee shot under a bush on the 14th hole by convincing a tournament official that she was allergic to the honey bees that were swarming around the gold lantana plant.

I grew up not far from Palm Desert and I don't even know what a gold lantana plant looks like, but I once had a bumblebee fly up my pants leg at Mountain Branch in Fallston, so I think I can speak with some authority on the subject, and I don't think that kind of thing is going to fly with Tiger and Phil and Vijay.

The bumblebee story is true. It stung me three times (which I didn't know was possible). My playing partner, Comcast sportscaster Brent Harris, said I looked like I was auditioning for Riverdance.

There's a rumor circulating that there is a videotape of the infamous Minnesota Vikings sex cruise, and I think it's about time decent people draw a line in the sand when it comes to this kind of misbehavior by professional athletes. I'm not going to pay a penny over $29.99 this time.

Just hope the Orioles don't get any ideas. The annual Orioles Cruise is a relatively tame affair, and that's just fine with me. I don't think anybody wants to see Fred Manfra in a thong.

I've got to take issue with my colleague Dan Connolly and his Saturday baseball column headlined "Forget Konerko, O's best bargain would be B. Molina."

Dan's reasoning is sound, but only if you buy into the notion that the Orioles can't afford both slugger Paul Konerko and solid Angels catcher Bengie Molina.

It's true that Konerko will be on the free agent wish lists of several contenders, which is going to drive his price sky-high, but the Orioles are trying to dig themselves out of a huge hole in the American League East, and you don't do that with half steps.

If you want to run with the big dogs, you're going to have to outbid somebody once in a while. Isn't that what the whole Mid-Atlantic Sports Network thing was all about?

Favorite headline of the week from SportsPickle.com, the sports humor Web site: "Jason Giambi wins Comeback Player of the Year Award to go along with his Guy Everyone Seems To Forget Lied and Cheated Award."

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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