Winning with Tyrone Willingham's Guys at Notre Dame

Jim S.Correspondent IAugust 18, 2008

This is way past relevant at this point, but it seems that people, both ND fans and critics, still can't get over the Ty Willingham controversy.  “Oooooohh, Charlie had a good year with Willingham’s guys and got an extension, and now he can’t win with his own players.”

It’s so absurd, but ESPN still brings it up, complaining that Willingham didn’t have time to develop “his” talent.

I think most would agree that 2005 was Weis’ most successful season to date, and as it was his first year, the conclusion most jump to is that he “won with Ty’s guys.”

Willingham only coached at ND for three years.  The backbone of that 2005 team, the reason we had hope for a brighter future under Weis, were the 19—count them, 19—seniors and fifth years who started or took a large share of the reps: BOB DAVIE’S guys.

On offense, Davie recruits in bold.




























Three Willingham recruits started.  Sullivan was a “sixth starter” on the offensive line, and Carlson was excellent in two tight sets.  Eight Davie recruits, including four on the line, made up the offense.

On defense, the song remains the same.


DL                           LB                           DB

Frome                           Hoyte                           Wooden

Landri                           Mays                             Richardson

Beidatsch                 Crum                       Zibby

Laws                                                                    Burrell




Eight of Bob Davie's finest, plus five Willingham guys, comprised the defense. 

Now who can name a Willingham recruit, not listed here, who made a meaningful contribution?  There are 10 names on my list.

Willingham recruited three full classes at Notre Dame, with 25 scholarships available every year.  Where the hell are they?

In '06/'07, where were Notre Dame’s glaring weaknesses?  O-line, D-line, and linebacker—the spots on my ‘05 depth chart dominated by bold type.

In last year's travesty, where were the seniors to hold the team together?  Nonexistent. 

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a blind Charlie Weis supporter.  Leaving the Navy game last year, I called for his head along with everyone else.

The difference between Weis and Willingham, and the reason Weis is still at the helm, is the hard work Charlie puts into recruiting.  The next two seasons should be very exciting—and if not, at least the cupboard won’t be bare for the next coach in the post-Lou Holtz apocalypse.


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