This is your life, Jimmy Clausen.
This is your job, Charlie Weis.
Clausen has been harassed and demeaned by USC the past two years. Crushed both in South Bend and Los Angeles. Matt Barkley is his California wannabe, but you would have hardly noticed Clausen coming into this season. The hype, which tried to destroy Clausen in his first two seasons, has anointed Barkley, who is a sure-fire NFL quarterback some day but has accomplished just one fourth-quarter comeback at Ohio State to show for his exalted status.
For some reason, Clausen, the California boy, has picked up a lunch-pail persona. Switch places and Clausen would be looking for his space at the USC Hall of Superheroes for his Heisman (just don't put it next to O.J.'s spot -- Oh, I forgot, just check e-bay).
This week, USC coach Pete Carroll had his early-week press conference and he faintly praised Notre Dame's offensive talent (he wishes he had Golden Tate and Kyle Rudolph). But it rang hollow. Almost like, yeah, they won't be pushovers this year, we'll actually have to play defense.
To make it worse, he held a team meeting Thursday where he sprang a surprise and brought out Stafon Johnson, the running back who suffered an incredible potentially life threatening injury a few weeks back when the free weights he was bench pressing crushed his throat and larynx. Only some miraculous quick thinking and medical attention saved him. So, on Thursday, back in LA, Carroll brought Johnson out from behind a door and the team wildly cheered. Johnson came to the front of the room styling all the way. Now this may be the modern day version of "Win one for the Gipper" but Johnson may have been minutes away from death and no doubt the injury lawyers will be calling one day when he realizes that his NFL career may be done. But worker's comp can wait (yes, athletes are compensated with free tuition and should be treated with the same worker's comp protection. Show me someone who works at the library and see if their part time job is worth $40-to-$50 grand a year.)
Anyway, Carroll shows no respect for Notre Dame. While Charlie Weis has said some scary things this week, like: We actually think we can win this week, I feel it, everyone feels it. You are SUPPOSED to feel that way every week. You are Notre Dame. You have the best players. Thankfully, Sam Ryan and Rudolph have actually articulated it. You don't win if you don't think you will win.
Clausen has the highest passing efficiency rating in the country. He has tons of yards and touchdowns. So why is he sharing the spotlight with Barkley? I know they had the same quarterbacks guru coach, Steve Clarkson, who has mentored a slew of top signal callers, including Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor, plus Snoop Dogg's, Joe Montana's and Wayne Gretzky's kids. But Clausen is the leading candidate to win the Heisman. Only Colt McCoy is in the way now. Imagine if he lost Jordan Shipley. Well that's what has happened to Clausen when Michael Floyd went down at Michigan.
Skip Bayless disrespected Notre Dame today on ESPN First Take (formerly known as Cold Pizza). He said 30-10 USC. The Vegas oddsmakers have USC, the visiting team, a 10-point favorite. The pollsters, who couldn't find Notre Dame in the rankings with a search warrant, moved the Irish up to 25 AFTER A BYE WEEK, so that it will look better when they play USC.
Oh, and did I mention that they have a common opponent, Washington. USC lost to the Huskies and their NFL first round pick QB Jake Locker (he's a Clarkson guy, too). The Irish beat Washington. So much for common opponents as a guideline for respect.
If Notre Dame loses, the Charlie Must Go talk starts up again. Already the Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and MNF analyst Jon Gruden have been speculated as replacements for the New Jersey guy who will have to renegotiate his buyout. I say this. Charlie, show them why New Jersey guys are tough and don't take crap, even though you are a little too arrogant. This should have been your dream job. Don't let the sheep-eaten grin of Pete Carroll and his condescending Trojan Nation take it away from you.
Kick their butts in the trenches and run your pro offense up and down the field. You have a few Super Bowl rings hidden away somewhere that you earned as an offensive coordinator for the best team in football. Send Carroll a text message to see where his Super Bowl rings are.
Just don't wear the green jerseys.