Two Coaches, Same Fate?

In three seasons at Notre Dame, coach Charlie Weis has won nine games, 10 games and one game, making him the first person in history to hit 20 and bust.

As Notre Dame and Nebraska plummet toward the bottom of their respective history books, as the Fighting Irish and the Cornhuskers find out how the other half has lived for the past few decades, their fans share a great many emotions: embarrassment, humiliation, disgust.

What they don't share is a solution. Notre Dame is not entertaining the idea of firing Weis. There isn't a soul between Scottsbluff and Omaha who believes Bill Callahan should or will return to run the Huskers next season.

Bill Callahan's Huskers have dropped five straight. Notre Dame has fallen farther, and faster, than Nebraska. The last team to play in a BCS bowl and win as few as three games was Alabama, which followed its SEC Championship and an Orange Bowl berth in 1999 by going 3-8 in 2000. Crimson Tide coach Mike DuBose didn't survive that fall.

Yet Weis won't be fired this year. Weis will survive in part because of the heights to which he took the Irish in the past two seasons. But he will also survive because he embraced the culture on campus.

Callahan came in as an agent of change, dismantling what had worked for three decades. It's not just the West Coast offense that Callahan brought in. Callahan and athletic director Steve Pederson brought a professional, business mentality to what had been a homey athletic department.

Out went the framed paintings of past Huskers stars that lined the walls. In came a new building with security worthy of a Manhattan office building. Neither move sat well with the Nebraska faithful.

Irish eyes frown on Weis

Notre Dame created a monster when it fired Tyrone Willingham after just three seasons. Now Charlie Weis is paying the price. Gene Wojciechowski Callahan struggled, but in the midst of struggling, neither he nor Pederson developed a base among the fans. When the bottom dropped out this season -- five straight losses, capped by a 76-39 loss at Kansas -- no one rallied to Callahan's defense. Instead, they are pinning their hopes on interim athletic director Tom Osborne, who already has indicated that he will make a coaching change.

Looking on from afar is Callahan's predecessor, Frank Solich, a former Huskers running back, an assistant to Osborne for 19 seasons and the man who went 58-19 as the Huskers' head coach during 1998-2003. Pederson fired him after the Huskers went 10-3 in 2003.

Solich said he has spoken with Osborne since the Hall of Fame coach returned to run the athletic department.

"We thought we were moving in the right direction. What happened, happened," Solich said. "There were just a few people that I was bothered with. You like to see your alma mater do well. But things are where they are at. I'm sure Tom will get things upgraded there."

Weis likely will get things upgraded at Notre Dame. It's difficult to imagine how they could get worse.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson has railed against the injustices of the BCS for pretty much its entire 10-year existence. He is well aware that his two candidates for a bowl jackpot this season -- No. 16 Hawaii (8-0) and No. 20 Boise State (8-1) -- could do all they could do and still get shut out when the pairings are announced on Dec. 2.

If Colt Brennan and Hawaii finish undefeated, WAC commish Karl Benson likes their BCS chances. Benson is not hopping mad. He's not even hopping.

"Bask in it while you can," he said Tuesday morning. "It can be fleeting. It's fun to have two teams in the top 20."

There are two ways that the WAC can grab one of the four at-large bids. One, have a team finish in the top 12 of the final BCS; or two, have a team finish 13th-16th, yet finish ahead of one of the six conference champions with guaranteed bids.

Benson believes the winner of the Hawaii-Boise State game on Nov. 23 (ESPN2, 9 ET) will be good enough to make the top 12. He thinks the other way to win the bid comes with an asterisk, anyway.

"I wouldn't want to see Hawaii or Boise State back in," Benson said, "especially from Hawaii's standpoint, being undefeated. Twelve is the number. The only chance of the 16 [standing] coming into play might be [an upset in] the ACC championship game. If they win out and they are 12-0, history has shown that is enough."

Benson is willing to believe in the system that sent undefeated Boise State to the Fiesta Bowl last season.

"The system was developed to recognize an undefeated team," Benson said. "I think we have to acknowledge that Hawaii's schedule to a large part is not their fault."

Therein lies Hawaii's problem. Its schedule hasn't gotten off the couch. The Warriors' struggle to find nonconference opponents in the age of the 12-game schedule is well-documented. The Warriors are unranked in the computer portion of the BCS formula. Hawaii has played two I-AA opponents, and its six I-A opponents have a combined record of 14-42.

"Those six opponents have a collective computer ranking of 103," Benson said. "The good news is that Hawaii's next four opponents (Fresno State, Nevada, Boise State, Washington) have a combined computer ranking of 57 and a won-lost record of 22-14. We're expecting that the computer will begin to recognize the last four opponents."

Offensive DiversityNo. 9 Arizona State leads the nation with an average of 34:30 minutes of possession per game -- an astounding number -- and has run 83 more plays than its opponents, an average of about nine per game. Makes sense, right? You hold the ball, you run more plays.

Chase Daniel and the Tigers average 79.4 plays per game. How about No. 6 Missouri? The Tigers average 28:13 in possession, 104th in the nation, yet they have 39 more plays than their opponents, or about four per game. How does that work?

It works like this: The Tigers are fourth in the nation in plays per game (79.4), behind Houston, Troy and Tulsa. All four teams spread the field and believe huddles are for emergencies. Missouri also is plus-seven in turnover margin. That translates to more plays, too.

"What we try to do is get up there and snap the ball before the play clock gets to :10, and most of the time, before it gets to :14 or :15," Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen said. "It's a quick-strike offense. Most of the drives throughout the season are less than two minutes. … One thing is, the more series we have, the more we're going to score."

That's where that plus-seven in turnover margin comes in so handy.

The one part of the offense that is holding the Tigers back is a problem they want to have. In the fourth quarter, Missouri begins to hang on to the ball to protect its lead. The Tigers kept the ball for 10 minutes in the fourth quarter of their 55-10 victory over Colorado last week. Christensen said the change in rhythm doesn't upset quarterback Chase Daniel and the offense.

"You would think that would be the case," Christensen said. "Last week, we just ran it and moved down the field and scored another touchdown."

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for Send your questions and comments to Ivan at