Facing an Angry Mob: The Future of Charlie Weis at Notre Dame
For most Irish fans, including myself, this year was quite a let down for the Notre Dame Football team. At the beginning of the season, many analysts touted the Irish as a team with more cohesiveness and more experience. Gone were the days of poor technique and poor execution. However, most people still felt that this year’s squad would be one or two years away of seriously competing with the top programs in the country.
However, as the end of the season is upon us and most teams are preparing to receive their bowl bids, most Irish eyes are not smiling. The Notre Dame alumni and the most expansive fan base in the nation has formed a blood-thirsty mob complete with burning torches and pitchforks looking to run Charlie Weis out of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, the mob must go through Jack Swarbrick, Rev. John Jenkins, and the rest of the Notre Dame administration. But, they are doing their best—writing letters of disapproval and pledging money to contribute to Weis’ buyout.
These are the same fans who stood up for Notre Dame when accusations were made that Notre Dame was turning into a football factory when Tyrone Willingham was fired, citing wins and losses as the main reason. However, we know now that Ty was a poor recruiter and didn’t understand and appreciate what athletics mean to Notre Dame. Now, these fans are turning against their University and asking them to behave more like a football factory, requesting that Charlie be relieved based on wins and losses. They are tired of the football team not performing up to their capabilities and with good reason. But, these fans are blinded by their desperation.
If Charlie Weis’ status as the coach of Notre Dame only hinged on total wins and losses, I would expect that he would be fired this coming Monday as a 6-6 record is far from what is acceptable for anyone coaching at Notre Dame, especially Charlie Weis. Everything that has happened since the Sugar Bowl in 2006 (except for recruiting) has paved the road out of Notre Dame for Charlie Weis. However, there is much more than wins and losses that should be considered when deciding whether or not Charlie Weis should be retained or fired.
First, the football team is better than they were last year and there’s little evidence to believe that they won’t be better next year. Nearly every statistic from individual players to the offense and defense, to the team as a whole has improved from last season. While many people are unhappy with the team’s performance this year, these were the same fans who believed that this football team was still a year or two away from competing with most teams in the country but are upset that they aren’t competing at an elite level this year.
Second, Charlie Weis and his staff have been doing an outstanding job recruiting not only last year, but this year as well with many top-flight commitments already made for the blue and gold. Even if Charlie Weis was one of the worst coaches in the nation, he could do no worse than 9-3 two years from now with all of the talent that he and his staff are currently bringing into the University. This bodes very well for the people who are concerned with just wins and losses, which by the sound of things, seems to be most of you.
Third, and Jack Swarbrick has emphasized this several times, Notre Dame has student-athletes. Charlie Weis has raised the overall GPA of the football team to above 3.0, something Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie failed to do. Additionally, he has had an exemplary graduation rate for his football team. He is ensuring that even if some of his players do not go on to the NFL, they will receive degrees from Notre Dame as well as the credentials to succeed in the workforce.
Fourth, Charlie has done outstanding work for the University and the South Bend community outside of athletics. While his on-field demeanor leaves much to be desired, his work with charities, including Hannah and Friends, clubs, societies, and benefits have been outstanding. His work with all of these organizations have done nothing but reflect positively on Notre Dame.
Finally, it’s important to think about the future of the program. Would the immediate future be better without Charlie Weis? Would the foreseeable future be better without Charlie Weis? Frankly, I don’t want to see another highly touted coach come into Notre Dame, only to have to wait for him to implement his own system setting a National Championship back even further (see Michigan) when all signs indicate that Charlie Weis could do it in the next two or three years.
I hate to see Notre Dame getting beat up as much as the next fan, but I’m not sure that firing Charlie Weis will give these fans the satisfaction they deserve. Coach Weis has shown his willingness to make changes in an attempt to right a program that was once storied and I have no doubt that he will do the same this off-season, given the chance. If successful, it may prove to be just the thing to repel the mob knocking on his door.