Dec. 1, 2006
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Sugar or Rose? Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis doesn't care which bowl gets the Fighting Irish.
"Wherever they put us, we're going to be happy to go and that's where I stand on that," Weis said Friday. "Whoever picks us, we're going to be happy."
Weis isn't spending any time worrying about where the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish (10-2) are headed. They are No. 10 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and two teams currently ranked ahead of them can't go because conferences are limited to two participants in the select group of bowls.
That makes the Irish all but ticketed for the BCS, and a $4.5 million payday. It's also been a while since Notre Dame has been to the Rose or Sugar.
The Irish made their first bowl appearance in the 1925 Rose Bowl - a 27-10 victory over Stanford that was their only bowl game until 1970. The Irish have played in the Sugar Bowl three times, winning the national championship with a 24-23 win over Alabama in 1973, losing 17-10 when Georgia won the 1980 national championship and beating Florida 39-28 in 1992.
Traditionally, Notre Dame has sought to play the highest-ranked opponent it could in a bowl. This year that would likely mean No. 3 Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines beat the Irish 47-21 in South Bend on Sept. 9.
"I would like to play Michigan," Weis said. "I'll play Michigan or anybody else they dial us up against. I think that would be a nice thing to have a chance to do. But I'm not politicking for Michigan or anyone else."
Weis is more worried about having a plan ready once the Irish find out Sunday night where they are headed. The top priority for the Irish is ending their eight-game bowl losing streak.
"The first thing I want to do is win," he said. "I'm always big on winning."
Weis plans to take a different approach to preparing for the bowl game. Last year, the Irish had long practices, but players were given more days off between practices. But after seeing the Irish come out flat against Ohio State last season in the Fiesta Bowl, Weis is changing to shorter practices more often.
Last year, the coaching staff tried to keep from disclosing the game plan to the team too early. This season Weis plans to install it in phases.
"I think there's a lot more logical way to do it than I did it last year. So we're trying to use logic this year," he said.
Another change is that last year Weis stressed the need to end the bowl losing streak. He still wants to see the streak end, but won't put as much emphasis on it.
"I probably won't make it like the end-of-the-world-type of mentality," Weis said. "What you don't want to do is have the team walk away, you know, feeling too high or too low just based off of one game. But I think it would be a great thing for us, for our team. I think it would be very important for us and our program to walk away with a win."