Charlie Weis: Give The Guy A Break

Matt PoloniCorrespondent INovember 11, 2008

I know what you were thinking when you read the headline. It was something along the lines of "Oh, great. Another Notre Dame fan that's drinking the Kool Aid."

To borrow a line from one of ESPN's more colorful commentators...not so fast, my friend.

I haven't even touched the Kool Aid. I'm too busy drinking coffee in an effort to wake up from this nightmare.

And no, I haven't made it Irish. I'm not 21 yet and I sometimes fear that the South Bend PD could raid my house at any moment.

I just don't feel the need to throw gas on the fire when the flames are big enough already.

The Chicago Sun-Times and ESPN

The story broke on Monday: "Weis Watch" had begun.

But who, exactly, says that Charlie's seat is so hot? As far as I can tell, it's just the writer who broke the story (Neil Hayes) and the countless Notre Dame haters that were already discussing the topic at length.

There is no mention of a source that bestowed this nugget of information upon Mr. Hayes. It's just your typical editorial.

So now there's a different question. Why is ESPN saying that coach Weis is officially on the hot seat?

I have always been under the assumption that the term official was to be reserved for matters confirmed by the organization or school in question.

If all it takes to put a coach on the hot seat officially is one writer saying that said coach is on the hot seat, then I could put just-hired Milwaukee Brewers manager Ken Macha on the hot seat right now.

Of course, I won't. Despite his association with the Cubs' division rival, I think he's a very good coach. And everyone who has seen "Spiderman" knows that with great power comes great responsibility. I don't want to get the guy fired before he even shows up to work.

The Willingham Argument

The issue at hand is still whether or not Charlie should get fired.

The most common reasoning used by those who are providing the heat is that Tyrone Willingham was fired after only three seasons (before his contract expired) and he didn't have a season that was nearly as bad as 2007 was. Therefore, because Ty was treated unfairly, Charlie should receive similar treatment.

The most common rebuttal to this reasoning is to degrade the former Irish head coach and try to portray his situation as entirely different. For instance:

  • Ty would rather be playing on the golf course than recruiting because he believed that Notre Dame sold itself. As a result, Notre Dame didn't get the heralded recruits and were in a downward spiral.
  • His already lacking recruiting classes had almost no offensive linemen, which will almost certainly lead a team to disaster because a team that can't block is a team that can't move the ball. Football is won in the trenches.
  • He only had one good recruiting class and the two best players from that class were no product of his ability to see talent. Brady Quinn was only recruited because Chinedum Ndukwe's father insisted that Willingham take a look at him and Ty told Jeff Samardzija that he should quit football because he had no future in the sport.
  • Before he was fired by Notre Dame, Ty was already talking to Washington about their head coaching job. What little recruiting he did immediately stopped altogether.

Now, other than the point about offensive linemen, the argument is highly anecdotal. I have no way of personally knowing whether or not those points are true. So I'll go at the argument a much simpler way.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

If you truly believe that Tyrone Willingham deserved the final two years of his contract with Notre Dame, then what good does it do to repeat the mistake?

Charlie may have had the worst season in Notre Dame history last year, but he did take the Irish to two consecutive BCS bowl games.

Were both teams comprised primarily of Willingham recruits? Yes.

But Willingham's only winning season came in his first year with the Irish. That team was comprised primarily of Bob Davie's recruits and only reached the Gator Bowl, so give it up already.

Jack Swarbrick and Charlie's Contract

While most writers realize that Charlie Weis still has a pretty big contract in front of him, some people may forget that Notre Dame has a new Athletic Director.

Does any first year AD want to make a move of this magnitude? I sure hope not.

Firing Charlie would leave the Irish with a huge monetary responsibility.

Not only that, but who the heck would want to take over the program after two head coaches were run out of town?

Charlie's Best Argument

The team has hit a skid that rivals that of the 2007 Mets. Everything looked good for a little while and then it just tanked.

Why did this happen? The team is young, and inconsistency comes with youth.

"But Charlie Weis is in his fourth year at Notre Dame. They're all his guys and he can't win with them. If the older guys aren't stepping up, it's either because he can't develop them or they weren't that good to begin with."

Quite simply, no.

Charlie is a victim of being a quick learner and a great recruiter. He has improved his recruiting every year, including last year's on-field debacle.

In getting more talented players every year, older players get passed on the depth chart and realize that since the incoming guys are so good, they may never see the field again. So they transfer out.

Luckily for Weis, his recruiting classes can't get much better. This year's freshmen might be the first class under Charlie Weis that doesn't see a significant number of transfers before graduation.

Now, he's taking control over the offense again. If he really has that schematic advantage that he boasted about in his first year, then Irish fans should see an improvement in playcalling the next few games. I, for one, believe he does.

Give him the two years that Willingham didn't get. By then, we'll know what he really can do.

Even if he fails as a coach, he recruits so well that the next guy will have a lot to work with.


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