- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2007

Charlie Weis might be the loneliest man on the planet.

Michigan’s 38-0 annihilation of Notre Dame in Saturday’s battle of reeling giants was so absolute that the Back Judge can safely say Weis is presiding over the quickest and most abject tumble from grace in modern college football history.

Ten short months ago, Weis was buffing his rep as the man who made Tom Brady behind Brady Quinn and a 10-1 Irish team ranked sixth in the land and preparing to face a USC team it famously nearly upset in Weis’ BCS-gilded debut campaign (9-3 in 2005).

Another BCS bowl bid was in the offing. Ultra-hyped prep super-slinger Jimmy Clausen was coming to South Bend at the head of an army of enviable recruits. The echoes were awake, baby.

Irish eyes haven’t smiled since.

Notre Dame has lost five straight games since those salad days by a galling average of 27.2 points. The five consecutive losses are the program’s worst skein in more than 20 years, and this year’s 0-3 start ties the school record for season-opening futility, matching Bob Davie’s pink-slip 2001 start. But make no mistake, this season’s Irish outfit is more pathetic than any squad Davie, Dan Devine or even Gerry Faust presented to an impatient fan base.

Consider these tragicomic facts:

Notre Dame is the only team among the 119 schools in the Bowl Subdivision formerly known as D1-A yet to score an offensive touchdown.

The Irish rank 119th in total offense (115.0 yards), rushing offense (minus-4.7 yards), scoring offense (4.33 points) and sacks allowed (23) through three games.

On paper, the Irish aren’t just awful; they are the worst team in college football. And while Weis stated after Saturday’s bludgeoning at the hands of previously winless Michigan that his confidence wasn’t shaken, obviously some of his players feel otherwise.

Things in South Bend are so bad that backup quarterback Demetrius Jones went AWOL before the Michigan game, skipping the team bus to Ann Arbor in lieu of a Greyhound to Northern Illinois, where he will begin his second college career next season.

Given that ND’s next five opponents are 13-1 (Michigan State, Purdue, UCLA, Boston College and USC), NBC might want to consider voiding its contract to televise the Irish. Isn’t it against some FCC regulation to broadcast public executions?

High on this Hog

Go ahead and fill in your Heisman ballots. Anybody who watched Arkansas’ Darren McFadden gut Alabama’s defense for 195 rushing yards Saturday night couldn’t possibly cast his vote for anyone else.

The Back Judge is sorry, but this is not an issue open for debate. Florida’s Tim Tebow looks like a budding superstar. And West Virginia’s Steve Slaton is a nice home run threat in Rich Rodriguez’s daunting spread option attack. But McFadden is a once-in-a-generation guy.

Laugh if you will, but he might be the best back in all of football … right now.

LT and Reggie Bush can’t move piles like the 215-pound Arkansas hammer. Most stunningly, they are both slower. McFadden runs a 4.3 flat. And over the last two seasons, he basically has lined up seven yards deep, behind pathetic quarterbacks, against blazing defenses that knew exactly what and who was coming … and averaged 6.0 yards a carry in the nation’s toughest conference.

If he stays healthy and doesn’t win the bronze boy, the Heisman is dead to the Back Judge.

Gameballs and Gassers

Team leather goes to Kentucky (punks Louisville), Florida (eviscerates Tennessee … again), Alabama (they’re baaack), Boston College (class of the ACC), USC (went rock-pounding medieval on Nebraska), Air Force (downed TCU) and Duke.

The Back Judge would like to single out the Blue Devils for snapping their 22-game losing streak with a 20-14 win over Northwestern in the battle between ACC and Big Ten token academic institutions.

Individual honors go to McFadden (McBad’un), Tebow (Pat White squared), Michigan’s Mike Hart (Nice Namath) and Florida’s Urban Meyer (Stevie Ballcoach was never more ruthless runnin’ it up).

Team laps go to UCLA (38-point losers to previously winless Utah), Notre Dame (forget the echoes, just wake up) and Auburn (add Mississippi State stumble to the South Florida debacle).

Finally, the Back Judge would like to co-bestow goats horns on Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jones and Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer.

Ode to D.J.: You are a spineless, ship-jumping dog of a teammate who makes T.O. look like a locker-room leader. May you never play a down at Northern Illinois, you slithering, Irsay-esque snake.

Memo to Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton: After the Great Pumpkin fell to 0-3 against Urban courtesy of the most humiliating margin of defeat (59-20) since the Vols were Herscheled 44-0 by Georgia in 1981, it’s officially time to put both Mayflower and Phil “Florida Fodder” Fulmer on notice.

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