Charlie Weis's Job at Stake In 2009

Joe MorganSenior Analyst ISeptember 1, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 07:  Charlie Weis the Head Coach of Notre Dame Fighting Irish gives instructions to his team during the game against the Stanford Cardinal on October 7, 2006 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Patience is a virtue.

That being said, it's difficult to find many virtuous college football programs in today's game.

When hiring a new football coach, schools expect immediate improvement, regardless of the current state of its respective football program.

For example, some coaches merely have the task of waking up a sleeping giant, like Urban Meyer did when he became the head coach of the Florida Gators in 2005.

However, other coaches are forced to rebuild an entire program in as little as three or four years, a task that countless coaches have failed to accomplish.

Coaching college football is a survival game.

If a coach wins enough to please the rich boosters and alumni who contribute loads of cash to the university, then he gets to keep his job.

With the current climate of college coaching in mind, the University of Notre Dame has raised a lot of eyebrows in regards to their treatment of head coach Charlie Weis.

Despite posting a 10-15 record in the last two seasons at a "win-now" school like Notre Dame, Weis will be patrolling the sidelines in South Bend for a fifth season in 2009.

Granted, Weis delivered two BCS bowl game berths in his first two seasons at the helm, but the mediocrity of the Fighting Irish would have given any other coach the boot at Notre Dame.

Just ask Tyrone Willingham.

Despite leading the Irish to a 10-3 record during the 2002 season, Willingham was given a pink slip after subsequent records of 5-7 and 6-5 in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

The treatment of Weis begs the question: Is Notre Dame gun-shy on firing Weis as a result of the criticism they received for firing Willingham after only three seasons?

That may be the case, but Notre Dame also faces the prospect of paying Weis a hefty buyout tag after they gave him a premature 10-year contract extension just seven games into his first season as coach.

On the other hand, perhaps Notre Dame may just approve of what Weis has accomplished so far and the direction in which he is taking the program.

In addition to leading the Fighting Irish to their first bowl victory since 1994, with a 49-21 win over the Hawaii Warriors in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Weis has also overseen academic improvement during his tenure.

With Weis in charge, Notre Dame football players have posted a team GPA of at least 3.0 for six consecutive semesters.

However, as Weis is well aware, good grades and December bowl games are not in the job description for the head football coach of the Fighting Irish.

Like it or not, Weis is on the ropes in 2009, and Notre Dame's circumstances only increase the pressure this season.

In addition to returning 18 starters (junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen included), the Fighting Irish have only one ranked opponent on the 2009 schedule (No. 4 USC).

Because of these factors, college football fans and the media expect a significant turnaround for Notre Dame in 2009.

The expectations for the Fighting Irish are so high that ESPN analyst Lou Holtz predicts that they will face the Gators in the BCS National Championship Game at season's end.

However, while Holtz's prediction may be expecting too much of Weis's football team, the expectations of the Notre Dame faithful are not far off.

It is imperative for Weis to have a winning season in 2009.

There's no telling when Notre Dame's patience with him will finally run out.


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