"You're a 6-5 football team, and that's just not good enough."
You remember those words, don't you Irish fans?
That was a direct quote from Charlie Weis at his first press conference as the head coach at the University of Notre Dame.
After hitting rock bottom (again) Saturday, Weis' squad is 6-5 and looks as lost as any other college football program has been in the last decade.
Really, what else is there to say?
Just in the last three weeks, they've lost to a glorified High School team (Navy), a team coached by a former NFL castoff in Dave Wannstedt (Pitt), and now a team who has been playing at the FBS level for less than a decade and is very much considered a "basketball school."
Weis' career winning percentage leaves so much to be desired, and the 14 home losses he's suffered in five seasons can make your head spin.
Syracuse, Navy (twice), and UConn have walked confidently into South Bend huge underdogs and have delivered what would have been considered shocking upsets of the "mighty" Fighting Irish.
Simply put, that cannot happen.
Bob Davie was 24-7 at home in his tenure as Notre Dame coach. Yes, that Bob Davie.
Where do you go from here? You really have to wonder when, if ever, the climb will begin for the Irish to get back to respectability.
A decided schematic advantage?
Everyone and their brother remembers this cocky phrase uttered by Chuck at his first press conference.
And, yes, for a while, you really did believe that Notre Dame had an advantage over their opponents strictly because of Charlie Weis' play-calling.
The upset of then-No. 3 Michigan, the USC "Bush Push" game, and even the Fiesta Bowl game vs. Ohio State showcased Weis' ability to out-scheme, out-coach, and out-plan his opponents.
The problem, of course, is that two of those three games resulted in losses (USC, Ohio St).
Talk all you want about decided advantages on your coaching staff, but actions speak louder than words. And the Irish have not been acting like a team with a "decided schematic advantage."
Irish nose tackle and upperclassman Ian Williams agrees. He addressed the media after the loss to Navy, saying, in general, that his team was out-coached by Navy. He indicated that the Navy team was more prepared than his Irish team.
When your own players throw you under the bus like that, there's something seriously wrong.
Offensive fireworks, Defensive duds
His offense has, for the most part, delivered on his promises of lighting up the scoreboard and putting up gaudy numbers. He has coached two Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterbacks and several NFL-type receivers along with steady running backs.
Besides the disaster 3-9 season a few years back in which the offense was non- existent, Notre Dame has been able to score points.
But it's a two-way street, Charlie, and you have to play defense in college football. As the head coach, you have to take responsibility for your defense as well, even if you don't call their plays or run their schemes.
When looking at this Irish roster, you see virtually all offensive contributors as former four and five-star athletes coming out of high school. They were the cream of the crop.
Same story for the defense. But why haven't they produced like the offense?
One word. Coaching.
This Irish defense is the most athletic unit in Weis' tenure in South Bend...by far.
Instability in the defensive coaching staff and poor tackling, among other things, have doomed the Notre Dame defense.
What good is an offense that scores 30 points a game when you field a defense that gives up 31?
We just saw the latest example of a mishandled Notre Dame player. Let's reintroduce ourselves to Zach Frazer. The Notre Dame backup quarterback turned UConn starting quarterback ultimately gets the last laugh.
Notre Dame and Charlie Weis used to have a rule in place where a player was granted his transfer provided he didn't transfer to a school that would be on a future schedule for Notre Dame.
That rule has just backfired. But he's not the only mishandled player.
When you have an offense that features Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, and Michael Floyd (all of whom will be in the NFL in less than 24 months) you should be in the hunt for a BCS bowl, if not a national championship.
You may never again see a more dynamic threesome playing football in South Bend. Think about that for a second....ouch, it hurts.
UConn and Navy can only dream of getting a player a third as good as those athletes.
The constant re-shuffling of the defense is just another example of mishandling players, as is the daily kicker/punter status.
Memo to future Notre Dame coach: play the best 11 players on defense and stick to it. Also, find a capable kicker and punter.
When senior Eric Maust toes off several punts of less than 30 yards, you show him the door. You find a kid that can do the job. Same story for the kicker.
Jimmy, we hardly knew ye
Jimmy Clausen will likely leave South Bend for the riches and glamour of NFL life.
I support his decision 100%. It would be utterly stupid of him to return for a senior year at Notre Dame.
Clausen will leave Notre Dame as a man who didn't deliver on his lofty hype, but through no fault of his own.
When you have a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback like Clausen, you simply must strike while the iron is hot.
Whoever is under center next year for Notre Dame (with Dayne Crist possibly out and Evan Sharpley gone) will have the biggest shoes to fill in college football, with the exception of maybe Tim Tebow.
Even after three years with Clausen at the helm, I feel like I'm getting the short end of the stick with him, again through no fault of his own.
He is what you think about when you think of elite college football quarterbacks.
Rocket arm, accurate ball, ice water in the veins, tough as a brick, Clausen has the tools to succeed.
He is not the quarterback of a 6-5 team.
He is special, and Notre Dame and Charlie Weis literally just wasted his talent in a three-year span that brought nothing but pain and heartache.
(Insert Coach Name Here), welcome to Hell
So, you're a hot coaching prospect and Notre Dame is interested in you, huh?
My advice: run and hide.
After swinging and missing three times in a row now (Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, Charlie Weis), what can Notre Dame do to bring in the right guy to man the ship?
It is the ultimate Catch-22. When you're winning consistently every Saturday, you're the "savior" of Notre Dame and the man to "return the glory" to South Bend. Do you really want that pressure?
Charlie Weis was that man three years ago. It didn't work out too well for him.
On the other hand, if you lose consistently in South Bend, then it's off with your head. Who in their right mind wants that?
Sure, they'll pay you tons of money. So will every other major NCAA program though.
Urban Meyer, in your dreams. Jon Gruden, you wish. Mike Belotti, Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, not a snowball's chance in hell.
If it is Brian Kelly, who is the hot name around South Bend now, what difference can he make?
He's guiding a small-market team from Ohio in a weak conference. While his resume speaks for itself, how is he any different from previous Notre Dame coaches?
Can he graduate his players and deal with the higher academic standards? Can he face the media scrutiny every Saturday? Can he use his talented roster to his advantage and win double-digit games?
Lots of questions, but in South Bend right now, no answers.
In Charlie Weis' five-year stint at Notre Dame, one thing you cannot overlook is the dignity and grace his teams have shown.
You really can't kill yourself when you see a small, scrappy Navy team come into South Bend and steal a victory. Those young men have bigger fish to fry, and we certainly appreciate all their sacrifices.
And you really have to be a robot to not get a little choked up at Randy Edsall's UConn team that is dealing with the loss of one of their teammates, Jasper Howard. Seeing Edsall's post-game interview gave me goosebumps.
But you can respect your opponents and still deliver wins. They won't measure your respect percentage, just your winning percentage.
Lou Holtz's teams beat the daylights out of Navy, Air Force, and the Army year in and year out, while at the same time respecting them and thanking them for the service.
It's about wins and losses, Charlie.
And in that department, you are just not good enough.
Farewell, Charlie Weis.
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