December 21, 2004

Charlie Weis will be Successful at Notre Dame

Weis at work and at play.


Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, was recently named to be the new head coach at Notre Dame - replacing dismissed head coach Ty Willingham.

Before we can discuss why Charlie Weis will be successful at Notre Dame, we have to deal with two issues. Obviously, there was some hub-bub about Ty Willingham being let go in the first place. Then there was the issue of Weis not being the first choice for the job.

Ty Willingham was let go because he was not winning enough games. Period. Willingham went 21-15 at Notre Dame and that just doesn't cut it.

Yes - Ty Willingham is African American but what does that have to do with anything? The people who are arguing that he should never have been let go are doing so merely because he was a black head coach - not because he was a good head coach (and wasn't it Martin Luther King who said, "I have a dream that someday I will not be judged on the color of my skin but on my won/loss percentage"?). Where were these protesters when Ron Zook got fired by Florida? Zook was 20-13 at Florida. Was there no outrage because Zook is white?

Willingham was quickly hired by the University of Washington - so lucky for Notre Dame this distracting fire ran out of oxygen.

Yes - Urban Meyer was the number one choice to replace Willingham for the Notre Dame job but he preferred to take the job at Florida that was opened by Zook's firing. There is no reason to believe that Weis was even the number two choice (he was less than 10th in line and that should be good enough).

Notre Dame gave Charlie Weis a 6-year contract that will pay him $2 million a year. That salary is much less than the average salary of a CEO of one of the Fortune 200 companies (estimated to be an average of $9.1 million) but at the same time Weis's salary will be 5-times the salary given to the President of the United States. Weis isn't getting paid this money to go 21-15 and Weis understands that.

In my opinion, Weis needs to do 3 things to succeed at South Bend.

1. He has to implement a winning system on both sides of the ball. In many cases it is the system as much as the players who win games (just look at the Patriots and their interchangeable players). Weis needs to hire assistants who "get it" and are hungry to put in the hours and hard work that it will take to make winning on Saturdays easy.

2. He has to recruit good, smart athletes. Now I specifically mention smart because the recent knock/excuse that has been used to explain Notre Dame's slide is that Notre Dame's tough academic entrance requirements keep the best athletes from playing at ND. This is BS.

You want smart players. The Patriots understand this. Charlie Weis understands this. The Patriots have more college graduates than any other team in the NFL and there is a direct correlation between that fact and the fact they have won two of the last three Super Bowls. Charlie Weis will take a smart player with desire over a dumb player with talent any day of the week.

Weis should do well recruiting the good, smart players because he should be able to tap alum's like Joe Montana and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis along with NFL best friend Tom Brady to talk to recruits (even though Brady went to rival Michigan). Most importantly, Weis will be able to display his two (hopefully soon to be three) Super Bowl rings. The guys Weis will be recruiting want to play on Sundays and with Weis they'll know they will be dealing with a guy who knows what it takes to get to and succeed in the NFL.

3. The third thing Weis has to do may be the most difficult. He has to develop a media friendly personality.

Who knows - maybe Weis is a natural media darling. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell from his time in New England because head coach Bill Belichick always kept his assistants under media blackout. If Weis has problems with the media - he better start working on improving his communication skills now because if truth be told - Ty Willingham's brusque way with the media probably sealed his fate.

Notre Dame has a contract with NBC that pays the University $9 million per year (coincidentally the NBC contract expires at the same time as Weis's contract). NBC wants a guy (like Lou Holtz) that viewers will tune in to watch. Likewise, alumni and fans who give to the Notre Dame endowment will feel much better writing a check if the coach of the football team is both a winner and likeable.

All-in-all - I think Charlie Weis may not have been the first choice to coach the Notre Dame fighting Irish but he is definitely the right choice.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular , and contributes to

Lynch can be reached at

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Posted by Vanderleun at December 21, 2004 8:40 AM | TrackBack
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