The Charlie Weis Legacy: The Good, The Bad, and the Oh-So Ugly

Marc HalstedCorrespondent INovember 30, 2009

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis walks back to the sideline after speaking to his team during their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Charlie Weis has been fired from Notre Dame, Urban Meyer has re-dedicated himself to the University of Florida, and Bob Stoops has denied that he has any interest in becoming the next Notre Dame head coach.

While we wait for Brian Kelly's stunning announcement that he'll leave an undefeated, and BCS-bound Cincinatti program to become the next Irish head coach, it would do us all well to take a final look at the Charlie Weis legacy.

The Weis legacy must be remembered for the roses and the thorns. There have been exceptional highs and unfathomable lows. There have been wins, losses, outrageous disasters, and unquestioned radiance.

It most assuredly has been captivating—just ask Mark May, Chris Fowler, Tony Bernhart, and the rest of the national media that has tried to tell all of us that Notre Dame has become irrelevant.

Here's to Charlie! Thanks for the memories, no matter how vivid and painful they've been.


Back-to-Back BCS

Most Notre Dame fans would triple their alumni payments to get back to the days of 9-2 and 10-2 and a pair of appearances in BCS bowl games against high profile opponents like Ohio State and LSU.

Of course, a 75-34 total score in two losses against said BSC bowl game opponents in Charlie's first two years, is not something many Irish fans want to remember. But, at least he helped get them into the bright spotlights of a New Year’s Day Bowl and made us all think for a moment, that 1988 wasn't really that long ago.

Stunning Losses

There is no way around shocking home losses to Syracuse, Air Force, Connecticut, and Navy, twice. 

There was no way to ignore a period of nearly three years without a win over a team that finished the season with a winning record not named Navy (yes, they actually beat the Midshipmen once or twice during the Weis era).

There is no way around blowout losses to Georgia Tech (33-3), Michigan (38-0), and USC (38-0) in 2007.

There is no way around blowout losses to Boston College (17-0) and USC (38-3) in 2008.

Finally, there is no way around the fact that six-plus losses for three straight years is both unforgettable and unacceptable for the throngs of Notre Dame supporters.

Charlie, Hannah, And Their Friends

Speaking personally, I’m sick of the character assassinations. Yes, Coach Weis has been arrogant and yes, he’s proved to be unsuccessful as a head coach.

But Charlie Weis is a good man with a great heart.

Charlie Weis was loved by many of his players. Walking onto the field for his final home game, locking arm in arm with his captains, was a stirring and powerful display. The tears reminded us that this is an emotional game and that the intensity of relationships between coaches and players is so much a part of college football.

Beyond the field, Coach Weis poured millions of his own money and hours of his not-so-free time to build an extraordinary living center for young people with special needs. His unselfishness and complete dedication to "Hannah and Friends" will always be more important to the greater community of South Bend than anything he did on a football field.

Unfulfilled potential

Charlie Weis arrived at ND with Super Bowl rings, an offensive resume of great repute, and an ego that ran the length of the Jersey Turnpike. What we soon found out was that he also came with a tremendous work ethic and both the passion and ability to recruit the nations finest players eligible to meet the lofty Notre Dame academic standards;then it all went wrong.

The Irish Nation and the rest of the college football world, discovered that NFL success does not always parlay itself into on-campus brilliance. The reduced practice hours allowed and absolute need for the daily motivation of 19 and 20-year-old young men, haunted Weis from day one. 

With the semi-professionalism of Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardjiza, he excelled but with the immaturity and confused emotionalism of Jimmy Clausen and Brian Smith, he struggled.

Unfulfilled potential haunted Coach Weis. His preordained offensive brilliance became entrapped in youthful inexperience (2007), abject predictability (2008), and the pressure of increased need and volume (2009).

Finally, it came down to something as simple as player development. He brought in three top-ten recruiting classes full of four and five star athletes, yet failed to put two CFB standards on the field over the past three years: a dependable running game and a serviceable defense.


The Hand-Off

The final component of the Weis Legacy rests in what he left behind.

When Brian Kelly (or whoever the Irish hire) arrives in town, he'll find a depth chart full of talent and athleticism, at least two gifted linebackers, a surprisingly deep and maturing defensive line group, two dynamic wide receiver talents, a day-one NFL draft tight end, and a full stable of highly touted running backs.

Sure, Jimmy and Golden may be off to NFL riches, but Weis left more talent in the cupboard than either of his predecessors. ND will be able to win in 2010 and their schedule will certainly help the cause.

Charlie Weis did not win like he should have and he did not succeed like he needed to. He did not make Notre Dame into what he said he would.

But Charlie Weis leaves with character, integrity, an exceptional 96 percent graduation rate, and a full depth chart for his successor.

Charlie, thank you. Best of luck in the future and enjoy turning the Browns offense into, well, an offense.

Now look Brian, we need at least 10 wins next year, okay?