Weis gets it. He really does. Amid the wreckage of the end of the 2008 season (Hawaii Bowl notwithstanding), there was fear and trepidation for the future of the most storied program in College Football history.
Could Weis, amid calls for his head, a feeding-frenzied media, and an angry Irish Nation, not only see what had to be done, but do it? Or would stubborness, or loyalty to staff, or merely limited college-coaching experience keep him from making the coaching staff changes that were so clearly needed?
Many observers of the program called for a list of (obviously) necessary changes, and swiftly following the bowl game came the firing squad. Heywood gone. Latina (thank heavens) gone. Several others departed as well.
And then came the hiring, the most promising being new offensive line coach Frank Verducci, an offensive line coach with extensive experience not only in the NFL, but in college football as well.
All good. But this writer also called for other changes that seemed, on the surface, less likely. That is, until today.
It has been announced that Weis will again be the offensive coordinator. When others called for hiring an OC with college play calling experience, I stuck by Charlie on this one. It is his one undeniable strength, which made his handing it over the inexperienced Haywood so baffling.
A few of us also called for Tenuda to be made Defensive Coordinator. This just in from the AP: "Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown will share the title of defensive coordinator with Jon Tenuta while adding the title of associate head coach. Tenuta, the linebackers coach, will call plays on defense." Expect the Irish defense to become an attack dog with Tenuda off the leash.
And finally, while Coach Weis says it is "50-50" whether he will call the plays from the box, I fully expect to see him there in 2009. Weis always wants an edge, and having seen the advantage that height gives him, he'll be there. The young, high-energy Brown will provide side-line inspiration.
So far so good! Given the changes in staff (and philosophy: "The pressure package is what I've always done and will continue to do," says Tenuda), the growing maturity of the players, the continued high level of recruiting, and the schedule, 2009 should be a very good year for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.