To Wait or Not to Wait: The Last 48 Hours Behind Notre Dame Football
Now that Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has publicly announced head football coach Charlie Weis will be back for a fifth season, many fans and alumni alike wondered why not wait until next Monday?
Personally, I didn't have a problem with the university and Swarbrick waiting till Dec. 8 to announce Weis' fate. You have to assume a decision was made or partially made after the Southern Cal game. But with the back-and-forth comments and hearsay of his staying and the athletic department not commenting until today, it makes one wonder.
Why was Swarbrick still on the West Coast? And what business does he have over there? Better yet, is Boise, Idaho, considered West Coast? We'll get to that in a little bit.
I will say this, I think it was very important that the university needed to keep this week as normal as possible. And I say this for a couple of reasons.
No. 1, this Friday is the annual football banquet. I think it's a little disrespectful to the senior class if something had happened to coach Weis' future in South Bend. Remember a couple of years ago during the last coaching change, and they cancelled the football banquet? That would really be unfair to the seniors who put four or five years of service here. They gave up a lot of sweat and blood for the Lady on the Dome. The least they could do is be honored by the university at this banquet. Luckily, the show will go on.
Another importance of this week deals with the recruiting of high school juniors. According to former Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Bob Chimel, you want to make sure the junior recruiting gets off to a solid start or continue to progress well. So that's very, very important for the Irish right now.
Waiting till this coming Monday also allowed Swarbrick and Fr. Jenkins to go out and look around a little bit. You can make some secondary connections with people if they felt the need to look and see who the next head coach might be. Then they could have talked to a friend of a friend and work around bothering a coach who is still very active.
I will say this; I didn't have a problem waiting till this Monday because there was still some good coaches if Notre Dame did want to make a change that were still very busy in conference championships or finishing up their regular season. Heck, many criticized Washington for taking Mike Haywood out of his element during a practice week to interview for the Husky vacancy.
So if Swarbrick and Jenkins waited a few more days when all the games were played and the bowl bids were handed out, then they could have had a few days to do some serious talking over the weekend. They could have talked to one or two coaches on a Saturday night or Sunday morning because their regular season or conference championship game was done, and they wouldn't have to worry about affecting some other team's preparation for a big contest.
You know Weis gets paid very well, and if something had changed and he didn't come back, he would have been taken care of financially. So the week's worth of effort he did on the road recruiting would have been made up nicely in a financial settlement to the tune of $20 million dollars.
Lastly, there's nothing wrong with looking around the landscape of college football and seeing who the top coaches are, and if there is any mutual interest in the Notre Dame program. If there was a coach out there that Swarbrick and Jenkins wanted to talk to, this would have been the prime time to do so because they could have contacted those individuals one-on-one than through secondary people.
Swarbrick has had a Plan A, Plan B, and a Plan C for quite some time now after it was evident when Weis' team was regressing. After the Boston College game, Swarbrick asked Fr. Jenkins permission to get some feelers on replacements for coach Weis. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden and his agent did place a call to Swarbrick's office, but that talk was brief and didn't have much substance.
Most of the behind the scenes work was done the last two weeks and, most recently, the last 48 hours.
Notre Dame loses to Syracuse 24-23. Swarbrick dodges media questions.
Swarbrick makes call to the University of Oklahoma. Sooners Coach Bob Stoops tells Swarbrick he's comfortable in Norman.
Swarbrick places calls to the University Florida and the University of Cincinnati to speak with coaches Urban Meyer and Brian Kelly.
Meyer and agent would only speak with Swarbrick and Jenkins' after the SEC Championship game.
Notre Dame loses to Southern Cal 38-3. Swarbrick tells media that he'll talk with Weis about his future on Monday, Dec. 8.
Weis asks Swarbrick if he should go out recruiting, and Swarbrick tells him yes. Meyer and agent tell Swarbrick he's staying put in Gainesville.
Brian Kelly and agent talk with Swarbrick and Jenkins' via phone conference and discuss possibilities.
Swarbrick calls Boise State to speak with Head Coach Chris Petersen. Petersen's agent calls Swarbrick that there's no interest.
Kelly leverages with UC administration and trustees for more incentives for their football program and scoffs at Swarbrick's and Jenkins initial figure.
Media reports hit wire of Kelly's statement of not interested in any jobs and is staying as Bearcats head coach.
Swarbrick and Jenkins meet with Weis in California to let him know that he's being retained for another year and that they will discuss changes within in the program early next week.
Swarbrick calls associate AD John Heisler to let him and the Sports Information Department that Weis will be back next season.
WNDU-TV Sports Director Jeff Jeffers and IrishEyes.com's Mike Frank get calls from the ND SID Office of Weis' return.
Notre Dame's Jack Swarbrick releases official statement of Weis' return as head coach next season.
As you can see this has been a whirlwind of events for the Notre Dame football program. I, personally, don't mind seeing the aggressiveness of new Swarbrick getting information and testing the waters with several top notch coaches. If it panned out, the incoming coach would have had some nice foundation to work with because of Weis' recruiting efforts.
On the flip side, what can you say about stability? It's good to see that Weis will get at least one more year to right this ship. Changes will indeed be made as the Irish will be shopping for a new offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, quarterbacks coach, strength/conditioning coach, and most likely a special teams coach, after this holiday bowl season.
Parameters will be established next week for Weis or this will definitely be his last hurrah in South Bend. So fans of Weis, I leave you with this little ditty by one of my favorite '80s groups, Crowded House.
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