Monday, April 13, 2009

There's no easy way out. | by Pete

As spring football helps college football fans slowly recover feelings in their extremities following a long, cold, blitz-free winter, Charlie Weis took some time to revisit those tortured days following the horrific Southern Cal loss with Teddy Greenstein at the Chicago Tribune, the time when his tenure at Notre Dame was hanging by a thread that looked mighty frayed. That chat yielded some fairly interesting nuggets.

While Swarbrick & Co. were weighing whether Weis should stay at Notre Dame, apparently so was Weis.

Leave Notre Dame. Return to the comfort zone of an NFL coordinator's job. End the abuse, the kind that led son Charlie Jr. to skip school for three days after the Irish's home loss to Syracuse.

"We talked about all that as a family, and we felt that we didn't want to leave that way," Weis said during a recent 35-minute interview with the Tribune. "That would have been the easy way out. That's not why we came here."
Do I think that Weis and his family legitimately contemplated quitting and heading back to the NFL? Yes.

Do I think that Notre Dame probably thought longer and harder about firing Weis than Weis and family did about resigning? Also yes.

He also touched on the fact that some alumni organizations and former players felt a bit ruffled at the beginning of the Weis tenure. But on those matters, he says they weren't intentional snubs.
Shortly after Weis was hired, top Notre Dame administrators, including then-athletic director Kevin White, encouraged him to focus on the team rather than his dozens of speaking requests.

Victories would make the alums happy, not handshakes. So Weis made a point to attend the annual Rockne dinner in Chicago, and nothing else. "I didn't find out a problem existed until Year Three," he said...

Weis said he had an "open avenue" for former players, but he instituted a complicated policy that was poorly communicated to monogram winners.

Thursday practices were open, but former players had to give an administrator 24 hours notice and wear a credential. If a former player or VIP wanted to attend practice on a different day, he had to be accompanied by White; the university president, Rev. John Jenkins; or deputy athletic director Stan Wilcox...

"I do enough other things wrong on my own. But those major ones I was innocent of, even though I was perceived guilty."
While I feel like Weis is doing a bit too much to cover his own rear end, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt because he's shown a willingness to be relatively upfront with his own shortcomings in the past. And our new AD appears to agree, and wants Weis (rightly so) to focus far more on the field than on ensuring he has proper glad-handing technique.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that in his eight months on the job, he hasn't seen any issues — or any problems with Weis' comportment.

"What I've observed is uniformly positive," he said. "He's a guy who does a million small favors, or courtesies, for people. He was one of the first people to call [women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw] after that tough loss [in the NCAA tournament]. And he reached out to call Father Jenkins after the controversy with President Obama."

After asking Weis to return this season, Swarbrick told him his first priority is to win football games.

"Don't focus on trying to modify people's perceptions of you," Swarbrick told him.
All in all, a fairly interesting interview that shines a light from Weis's perspective on some issues he's faced in the past, as well as where he plans to go moving forward.