It was supposed to be a match made in heaven.
Charlie Weis was a big contributor to Super Bowl runs for the NFL’s New England Patriots, instructing quarterback Tom Brady on the intricacies of the professional game after Drew Bledsoe was knocked out of commission. He was one of Bill Belichick’s right-hand men.
But after savoring Super Bowl championships, Weis wanted to be a head coach. He got his wish. Although it wasn’t in the NFL—it was for his alma-meter, Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish had been a program struggling to find consistency and championship seasons. Ever since Lou Holtz left the program, neither Bob Davie nor Ty Willingham could bring Touchdown Jesus back to prominence. That was where Weis fit—at least that was what most people thought five years ago.
Weis inherited players like Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen, but the results were less than favorable. For a storied program which had not seen national championships, expectations were high and losing was never an option.
Yet, a lack of victories was part of Weis’ legacy at Notre Dame. He never defeated rival USC and never reached a BCS bowl after his first two seasons at the helm. He endured a 35-27 record over his career and a .565 winning percentage, which was worse than both his predecessors in Davie and Willingham.
Once Quinn left the program, the ground in South Bend began to grow a little shaky. Weis only went 16-21 after Quinn’s departure.
Clausen was highly-touted out of high school and expected to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in Notre Dame history, but his performance has been inconsistent and not quite at the potential others expected of him. A lackluster defense and some bad losses, such as losing to Navy two out of three years, put a nail in Weis’ green and gold coffin.
Weis’ last game as the Irish head coach was a crushing loss to Stanford, viewed intently by Notre Dame’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick. The loss completed a four game skid and ultimately proving to be the demise of the man Notre Dame fans expected to save the program.
All hope is not lost for Weis, though.
He still possesses a strong football mentality and can run offenses as well as the best coordinators in the business. Many expect Weis to return to the NFL, to his roots, and become a coordinator or even possibly a head coach for a struggling franchise.
As for Notre Dame, names like Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops have had their names thrown around for weeks. It is unclear what direction Notre Dame will take, but they will assuredly go for a big name in the college football world.
The five-year experiment has concluded and the Fighting Irish are in a similar position they were in before Weis was ever hired—struggling to find an identity and not being able to win a big game.
One thing is for sure: these are not your father’s Fighting Irish.