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8/5 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts ... Independents
Notre Dame WR Golden Tate
Notre Dame WR Golden Tate
Posted Aug 5, 2009

8/5 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming Independents season. It's the Monday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

August 5

5 Thoughts on the Independents.

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
8/35 Thoughts on C-USA

7/24 5 Thoughts on the Big Ten
7/23 5 Thoughts on the MAC

7/22 5 Thoughts on the Big East
7/21 5 Thoughts on the M-West

7/20 5 Thoughts on the SEC
7/16 5 Thoughts on the ACC
7/15 5 Thoughts on the WAC
7/14 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt
7/13 5 Thoughts on the Big 12
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Indys.

Army has done its best to try to have a living, breathing football program again, and it has tried just about everything. It has gone to a spread attack, a pure passing offense, the wishbone, the triple option, and everything in between to start to produce. Making matters worse is the success at Navy, who has the same recruiting restrictions and the same barriers to deal with.

What Army has needed is its own Paul Johnson, the Georgia Tech head man who created the current run in Annapolis. And here he comes ... Rich Ellerson.

Army ran the ball relatively well last season after committing to the option and the ground game, finishing ninth in the nation in rushing, but there was no passing game, finishing last in the nation, while finishing 116th in scoring offense and 110th in total offense. Meanwhile, Ellerson's Cal Poly team finished first among FCS teams in total offense, averaging 487 yards per game, and first in scoring, averaging 44.36 points per outing. And his teams played defense, too.

The Mustangs not only lit it up on the scoreboard, but they had a killer pass rush, finishing second in the nation in sacks, and they not only ran the ball in the triple option attack, but they finished second in the nation in passing efficiency. Now, Ellerson will try to work his magic at Army, where it might take a year or so, but he has the potential to do for the Black Knights what Johnson did for the Midshipmen. If nothing else, Army will soon be relevant again.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Indys.

I’m on board that Notre Dame will be markedly improved from last year and in season-long contention for a BCS bowl berth. I’m just not sure what that’ll mean for the postseason.

With the schedule the Irish face in 2009, we may not have a firm grasp on its potential until a higher quality opponent comes calling in December or January. Now, of course, a win over USC in October changes everything, but where are the other true litmus tests that’ll prepare the team for a match up with, say a Texas or Ohio State? Out of the majors, Michigan, Purdue, Washington, Boston College, and Washington State are all way off their games these days. Nevada has an explosive offense, but the defense won’t be much of a match for Jimmy Clausen and his corps of dynamite receivers. Michigan State, Pitt, Connecticut, and Stanford? Nice squads, with definite bowl aspirations, but how many finish the season ranked? At most, one.

This year’s schedule, to no fault of the Irish, could wind up being both a blessing and a curse. Although it’s gift-wrapped for a major bowl game, it could also become a Trojan horse, leaving Notre Dame ill-prepared for the inevitable step up in competition.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Indys.

: If anyone was unsure about the coaching acumen of Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo, the first Polynesian head coach in FBS/Division I-A history laid such doubts to rest in 2008. Once again, the Midshipmen retained the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. Once again, the sons of Annapolis produced a winning season. Once again, a resourceful team found a number of different ways to steal victories and scare the living daylights out of Notre Dame.

In the big-boy world of the BCS conferences, Texas Tech and Mike Leach make more out of less than any other program in the sport. At the non-BCS level of FBS competition, Navy is by far the greatest talent maximizer in major college football. Air Force will mount a stiff challenge to the Midshipmen’s long-term dominance of the Commander-in-Chief series, but with this year’s game being in Annapolis, expect the Men of Ken to use some gridiron zen and maintain supremacy in the realm of service academy football. A bowl bid represents the fruit of a whole season of hard labor, but the Commander-in-Chief Trophy is the most readily attainable prize for any academy outfit. If Navy can simply keep order in its own little corner of the kingdom, the 2009 season will have achieved something significant for Mr. Niumatalolo and Co.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher,

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Indys.

A: I think Jimmy Clausen’s in for a big year.  Notre Dame is still the Notre Dame of recent times, and I don’t think they’re a BCS caliber team, but with this schedule and what I expect from Clausen, they might be headed back to the big bowls this season.

Clausen’s situation reminds me a lot of Carson Palmer’s before he had his break out season.  Both were entering their third year as the starter.  Both were in a pro system coached by a former NFL head man.  Both were at schools with loads of history trying to break back into relevancy.  And both were top recruits.  Then there’s the fact that both struggled in their first two seasons, although they did improve from their freshman to sophomore years.

That’s a lot of coincidences, I know, but the talent is certainly there for Clausen.  He’s got a great offensive line and should enjoy plenty of time in the pocket behind tackle Sam Young and guard Eric Olsen.  He’s got a great playmaker at wide receiver in Golden Tate.  He’s entering his third year in a complex system, so he should be have a much better grasp of the offense.  And perhaps most importantly, he’s got a hell of a schedule to put up big stats.

Six of the teams on Notre Dame’s schedule finished outside of the top 60 against the pass last season, including the first three (Nevada 119th, Michigan 87th,and Michigan State 69th).  That should make for a hot start.  Throw in the fact that the four teams they play on the road finished a combined 21-28 last year, and there aren’t many stumpers on the slate.  The USC game will be a beast, and Michigan in Ann Arbor is never a cakewalk, but Clausen’s got a lot of things going for him, and that could mean a 10 win season for the Irish.  

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Indys.

A: Navy remains a very salty team that is a departure from the norm when you prepare for them due to their unique offensive attack.  Notre Dame might have a ‘BCS or Bust’ year as it relates to Charlie Weis and his future in South Bend.  Army?  Sorry, not right now.  Fewer and fewer teams are Independents, and I still don’t think it’s out of the equation that Notre Dame joins the Big Ten some day.  I think the Big Ten will be in a position of waiting on the Irish; they don’t have to do anything, and I don’t think they will unless Notre Dame places a call