Charlie Weis started off his first full week working at Notre Dame with a 6am informal Q&A with students. Union labor laws prevented BGS from being there personally, but here is a first hand report we managed to get from our network of spies (a.k.a. notre dame message boards)...
I just went and saw Charlie Weis speak to the students, and boy, am I glad I got up early to do so. We started off in the football auditorium but by 5:45, it was packed so they moved us to the basketball arena. I would estimate about 250 – 300 students were there. Not a bad showing for 6 am on a Monday morning. Here are the highlights from Charlie’s talk:
Talked about Ty and how he was well liked and had a lot of integrity. He said that is what made the transition to a new football coach so tough. However, he said that anytime there is a change, it is made for a reason. Quite frankly, “expectations weren’t met”. He told the players not to whine about it because “if they weren’t 6-6, then they wouldn’t have let the coach go”.
He said that when ND came calling, he talked to his wife and said “this is it, honey.” Talked about how there were only 3 jobs he coveted. The NY Giants job which he lost out to last year, the ND job, and the South Carolina job. Said the South Carolina job interested him because he coached there five years and the special needs organization they are building will be in South Carolina.
He said that he would have had other NFL opportunities. In fact, he said on the night he was going to accept the ND job, one NFL team told him not to take the ND job, because he would have one if he waited. He said he even got a call from the Giants to gauge his interest and he told them, “you had your chance”.
He indicated that his job is to raise expectations. He said but don’t say to your fellow students, “Did you listen to that guy. We are going to go undefeated”.
The first thing he said he had to do was to get all the players thinking the same way as him. He indicated that he would have to first earn their respect. He said coming from the pros and being from Jersey, was probably not a great combination to try to do that.
Charlie said that he has never been in a program that has lost. He said that was not because of him, but he was a reason for it. He said that he has worked for two of the best coaches, Parcells and Billecheck, and he has taken the best from both of their personalities.
He talked about USC. “Pete Carroll is a friend of mine...but he's never really done great against me." He cautioned, however, that right now, USC has a better football team than ND. If you don’t think so, you are just kidding yourselves. He said his job is to get ND once again to that level. He indicated that he would begin to get ND back by finding smart kids who are good kids.
“No Excuses.” He said he doesn’t want to hear excuses about admissions being too hard, the scheduling being too tough (for example, 4 of the first 5 games being on the road), excuses about coaching, or excuses about Xs and Os’. He said we have had “too many excuses”.
He indicated that his kids will attend classes or they will have to answer to him. On one of the Fridays he was here for a day, he found out that about 6 players missed a class, and he “hammered them for it”. He said the University is giving them a scholarship to a great University and they should take full advantage of it.
He talked about how he had hired a great coaching staff. And he said for all those folks complaining about the administration, they should realize that they are the ones that stepped up to the plate to allow him to hire such a good staff. He believes in surrounding himself with good people and the administration allowed him to do it.
He talked about recruiting and said he didn’t lose recruits; they just didn’t want to come here. He said the problem is that ND is no longer the place to be for college football. He indicated it is just an option now. He said he wants to get it back to where it is the place to be. He didn’t set a timeline but indicated that we “will be back sooner than people expect.” He said that he didn’t want recruits that people would be in awe of, but would be “just one of the guys”. He said, “I don’t want prima donnas”.
In regards to recruiting, he indicated that Feb 27th, would be a big junior recruiting weekend. For the UCLA game, they are going to bring in a bunch of junior recruits they are interested in. He wants the students to help him recruit.
Here are the things which Charlie said we were going to get with him:
He said that he doesn’t know how many wins they will have, but he will promise that every week, we will have a team that is ready to go and prepared. He said that there will not be any lackluster performances. He will be on the sidelines and let them know about it if there are those types of performances. He cautioned that people should not sit too close to him and “don’t read his lips either.” He said he may have gone to ND, but he has been in the pros for 15 years.
- He will be around and visible across campus.
- He said he won’t do anything to embarrass the University, because ”I don’t do anything. I am boring.”
- Will bring pro experience with him
- He is a good family man
- He plans on being here for a long time, at least a decade. He wants his son to get through school at a minimum.
At that point, we went to questions. Someone asked him how much time he would spend with the offense and defense. He said that he would split his time equally between the two units. He then thought better and said that he was just as concerned about special teams and was going to focus on those just as much. He said very bluntly, “the special teams here sucked.” He said that he would put 1st teamers on special teams and this will be the first place you will see improvement and we will see it in a hurry.
When questioned about if he would call the plays, he said that he would be involved until he is “comfortable giving it up”. When he felt the offensive coaches could call a good a game as him, he would let them have it. About the defense, he said that he would share his philosophies about defense and he wanted to know why were doing things at all times. He gave an example of Pitt. He said that they had a good passer and that he didn’t care if they blitzed every down or dropped 8 in coverage, but they better be able to tell him why.
Someone asked about the green jerseys and requested that we only use those for the big games. Charlie said that rah rah stuff only lasts about 10 minutes. He said preparation is the reason you win and not emotions. Emotions can carry you only through part of the 1st quarter and then it comes down to who is better prepared.
He said football has become a very intellectual game. He would determine what his players could do and then mold the offense around what they could absorb and execute.
He did say that he was a big bulletin board guy and wanted to make sure the players did not produce bulletin board material for the other team. He said our guys will say the right thing, because “they will be coached on it”.
He said the only thing he really uses his Super Bowl rings for is recruiting. He also said that he will not display or wear anything from a game in which the team loses. He commented on the Insight bowl trophy and told them to “put that thing in the closet because we aren’t displaying it”. He doesn’t like to lose and doesn’t want to be reminded of losing by a trophy.
He was asked the greatest strength and weakness of the team. He said the greatest strength is character. Ty recruited character guys and you can win with character guys. He said the greatest weakness is trying to implement a new offensive and defensive scheme. He said that was on him, however, and he would be responsible for that. He said he will always deflect negatives from the team and to himself.
I think that is about it. I found Charlie to be an excellent communicator. He combined his no nonsense football approach with an excellent sense of humor. I can see him being a great motivator and recruiter. Heck, I was ready to strap on a helmet after his talk.
And more interesting ND news was highlighted in Malcolm Moran's USA Today article about future ND schedules. Here are the key paragraphs.
The plan, the result of a two-year study, is expected to take effect in 2009. The Fighting Irish will increase the number of games at Notre Dame Stadium from the current six to seven, and four games will take place on the road.
For a 12th game each year, athletics director Kevin White said, the school is considering cities such as Chicago, Orlando, Jacksonville, New Orleans and Dallas. The Irish would negotiate terms that would include games, perhaps in prime time, in its agreement with NBC.
If you are anything like me, September 3rd can't get here fast enough.