“No, no, no,” goes the annual thinking of a typical Notre Dame fan.
“This is the year we’ll finally hold Weis accountable. Forget last year...and the year before...and, heck, even if Weis screws up again this year, we’ll be alright. By golly, we sure do always have next year!"
"Did you see our recruiting class?!"
"Did you see our schedule?!”
What typical Notre Dame fans fail to come to grips with is this indisputable fact: No coach in America has done less with more over the past few years.
Weis has had four years of recruiting under his belt, including the No. 27 ranked class of 2005, the No. 5 ranked class of 2006, the No. 11 ranked class of 2007, and the No. 2 ranked class of 2008, according to the two main recruiting services, Scout and Rivals.
For those not counting at home, that is three top 10 classes in four years.
Every program would kill for that type of talent. Weis’ first recruiting class graduated earlier this month. The players from the No. 5 ranked class will be seniors this year.
After loading his team with top recruiting classes, Weis has simply failed to translate that talent into on-field success. Truth be told, last year should have been—and in my mind was—the year by which Weis should be judged objectively as a coach.
After all, the team was entirely his.
No blaming Ty Willingham.
No ghosts from the past.
The result? Six wins and six losses, and a victory over Hawaii in a bowl game, snapping the Irish’s pathetic nine game bowl losing streak.
And you can't say elite talent in the sophomore and junior classes can't win championships. Ask Florida, who returns every defensive starter from 2008.
Notre Dame's pathetic 6-6 record, when combined with the prior year’s 3-9 record, simply wouldn’t cut it at any of the other “top” programs in the country, assuming Notre Dame deserves to be considered a part of that group.
In fact, according to the recruiting services, only six other schools with the same head coach have had top 10 classes nationally in three of the last four years: Georgia, USC, Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, and Florida State. That’s some pretty elite company.
Think the fans of those schools would have tolerated a 10-15 record over the past two years? Still think Notre Dame deserves to get all those top players? Still think their coaches have a penchant for developing elite talent?
I sure don’t.
So I’m left wondering what exactly Charlie has to do to get fired in 2009. Would a 7-5 record do it? How about 8-4? 6-6? Because by any objective standard, he should be long gone.
But don’t fret, Notre Dame fans. Even if things don’t go your way this year, you’ll always have next year and another top recruiting class to mold into mediocrity.