The Pitt game presents an interesting pivot/reflection point on Weis. He cruised into Pittsburgh in 2005 and immediately grabbed the attention of the college football world and the hearts of Notre Dame fans, and now, in 2009, he's returning to Pittsburgh to participate in a contest that, at best, might cast some doubt on whether he can keep his job. Similar thoughts from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
No. 8 Pitt (8-1), with its highest ranking in two decades, will play host to Notre Dame (6-3) on Saturday night in their first meeting at Heinz Field since that memorable 2005 opener, when the Brady Quinn-led Fighting Irish ruined Wannstedt's debut by rolling up more than 500 total yards on the 23rd-ranked Panthers.If you had told an ND fan at halftime of the 2005 game that we'd be where we are now upon the return to Heinz Field four years later, they'd never have believed it. Just take a look back at the BGS archives following that game; we Irish fans were positively giddy.
"That was a tough game for us," sixth-year middle linebacker Adam Gunn said. "It was a wake-up call."
Back then, Weis was the hot-shot former NFL assistant poised to return his alma mater to national prominence, while Wannstedt was on his way to going 16-19 in his first three years at Pitt.
"We found out real quick that we had work to do," Wannstedt said. "We were probably just a little bit ahead of ourselves."
Both coaches have similar records at their respective schools (Weis 35-24, Wannstedt 33-24), but Weis, coming off a 23-21 loss to Navy, is under fire. Wannstedt is a candidate for numerous national coach of the year awards.
There's also an irony or something in the fact that Weis followed up his heroic debut against Pitt by beating what was supposed to be a very good Michigan team on the road. Meanwhile, this year he managed to lose to probably the second-worst Michigan team in the last three decades.
If you put the two coaches side by side, and set the frame from 2005 onwards, at this point it's pretty tough to consider Charlie the winner. About the only thing that would change that equation is beating the Panthers tomorrow.