The silence is deafening.
Some revelations from the Spygate fallout have caused some eyebrows to be raised at a school that has rarely had its image questioned. Until now.
Head Coach Charlie Weis' silence regarding Spygate is somewhat understandable. Ignore it, and it may go away. But there comes a time when you have to address the masses and reassure them that you are playing by all the rules. They're waiting, Charlie.
According to the Chicago Tribune, former offensive coordinator Weis allegedly benefited from the Patriots' illegal taping of defensive signals. In interviews conducted by both the NY Times and HBO, team assistant Matt Walsh claims that Weis used signals stolen from an exhibition game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' to help prepare for the Patriots' regular season date with the Bucs.
"I asked one of our quarterbacks if the information that I provided was beneficial in any way," Walsh told the Times. "He said, 'Actually, probably about 75 percent of the time, Tampa Bay ran the defense we thought they were going to run. If not more.' "
The Patriots ended up losing that game, but the point is not lost. The Patriots quarterback learned the signals from the tape, and then relayed them to Weis on the day of the game, according to the HBO interview with Walsh.
To be fair, Walsh's statements cannot be verified, as the quarterback who learned the stolen signals is so far, un-named. Plus, Walsh could be just lying, although so far, his story has rung true. But one can't help but wanting closure over this gaping wound, and instead, the blood seems to be spreading from the NFL down to the hallowed halls in South Bend. If Walsh is lying, where is the outrage from Weis? Either call him out or own up, Charlie.
Notre Dame has always rested on its laurels when it comes to being "above it all." Except for a serious violation in 1999 in which they lost scholarships due to booster interference and an aide writing a paper for a student-athlete, they have been fairly consistent in taking the higher ground. But what if their head coach cheated while under the employment of the New England Patriots? The team's cheating has been documented, and the fact that the team and head coach received fines and lost a draft pick proves the transgression was serious, and proven. The Pats cheated while Weis was their offensive coordinator. That's a fact.
Notre Dame has taken the position that "It's just not a Notre Dame matter," according to AD Kevin White. Oh really? How can it not be? If you hire a coach based on his success as an offensive coordinator, and then find out his team cheated while he was in that position, doesn't that take a little lustre off of his qualifications as a prospective head coach for a school whose values are based on Catholicism? Do the words, "Thous Shalt Not Steal" ring a bell?
Weis, remember, spoke to a Gettysburgh Notre Dame Club recently and told the attendees that, "I could get hoodlums and thugs and win tomorrow. I won't do it that way." Don't hoodlums steal? Now, no one is calling Weis a hoodlum, but if the allegations by Walsh are true, and Weis did benefit from those stolen signals, then Weis has serious character issues- ones that don't belong at Notre Dame.
Ex-coach George O'Leary lied on his resume about holding a Master's degree and a letterman's jacket. He "resigned" less than a week after those errors were discovered by everyone except Notre Dame. O'Leary understood what Notre Dame's standards were, and in his resignation, stated, "The integrity and credibility of Notre Dame is impeccable, and with that in mind, I will resign my position as head football coach effective Dec. 13, 2001."
Indeed, integrity and credibility are important. So where does Weis stand in this department? And what does this do to his future at Notre Dame? For one, it may give the University an "out."
Since the school is private, details of his contract are not public, but you can be sure there is a morals clause in there; most schools have a contract clause regarding behavior or conduct detrimental to the school's image . If Weis doesn't produce a bowl-team this season, the school may have just hit the jackpot. His buy-out clause is rumored to be around twenty million, but if the school determines that he violated the morals clause, they may be able to get out of that. If they choose to go that route.
The irony is there, if you look hard enough. While Weis preaches his sanctimonious words about Notre Dame never doing anything but take the high road, his own possible involvement in Spygate may cost him millions. The words, "Cheaters never prosper" will have never rung truer.
And the longer Weis remains silent, the more suspicious minds grow. It's fourth down, Charlie. Do you go for it, or punt?
*photos: thenastyboys.files.wordpress.com, usversusthem.files.wordpress.com.