Sept. 23, 1999

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It is always difficult to have an open date after a loss.

The timing is unfortunate because you do not have a chance to play, and the only thing that is going to make you feel better is to win a game. Although, for this football team, it could be the best thing that has happened to us, and that is how we are going to approach it.

We put ourselves in position to win each of our games, but we have kept ourselves from winning. The bye week gives us a chance to make improvements as a team. The first week will be spent on fundamentals and improvement.

We are looking to get in some hard work against each other and improve fundamentally. Hopefully, we will start to show some improvement, which will naturally make us feel better about ourselves.

Then the players will have the weekend off, while the coaches are recruiting. This weekend will be the first opportunity our players have had to go home since late May. I have been telling our team since August that they could look forward to the chance to see their families on the open weekend.

Each week our players and coaches work very hard to accomplish a lot between Monday and Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s game. Because of the academic schedule here at Notre Dame, our players do not get off the practice field until nearly 7:30 on most evenings. When you think of all they have to do after practice, such as showering, getting treatment in the training room and eating dinner, it is already late when they get back to their rooms to study.

The month of October brings a unique schedule. Following the open week, we have three straight home games and then another open date, which corresponds with the University’s fall break. These three games turn into a mini-season for us, where we will be focusing on Oklahoma, Arizona State and USC.

It will be nice to be home for three straight games, however, the home-stand will also be difficult in the sense that we have so many functions surrounding home games, such as the Friday luncheon and pep rally. Most people do not realize how demanding the preparation for these events are for the players and coaches. One thing is for certain, these three games are a great opportunity for us to start a new home winning streak.

While this open date provides an opportunity to make major changes, we do not need to. There is no reason to panic. All you have to do is look at the game tapes to see where we are. We could be a 4-0 football team right now. More importantly, you can see how close we are to being a good football team. Rather than change what we are doing, all we need to do is get better at what we are doing.