Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Weis gets it in a way Willingham never did | by Michael

and there are some incredibly promising developments going on.

None better than recruiting.

Former Irish CB verbal Brandon Harrison is expected to pick between Michigan and Iowa in an ESPN chat today. While losing Harrison is a big deal (regardless of what anybody says about 5'8 corners), I have noticed a huge difference between the first 24 hours of the Weis era and the first, oh, week or so after Willingham took over.

When Willingham took over, he took a long time to call back the current Irish verbals. In fact, he lost two of them. One of them was Jeremy Van Alstyne, who was projected to be in the DL mix for Michigan this year until an injury knocked him out. Check out what Van Alstyne's coach said back on January 14th, two weeks after Willingham took over.

"After (Tyrone) Willingham was hired, Jeremy never heard anything from Notre Dame. No home visits and no phone calls. I called Notre Dame myself and was told that Coach Willingham would call that night. He never called. Jeremy and I talked and he wanted to switch his commitment from Notre Dame to Michigan at that time.I told Jeremy we should wait and do this the right way. We wanted to give Notre Dame every chance to come in make their pitch. We never heard from Notre Dame so Jeremy called Michigan and committed."

That happened to other kids, too. Chris Olsen. This article is from Insiders.com (now Scout.com), and is dated January 8th - one full week after Willingham took over the team. It may be a paysite article, and you may not be able to access it, but here's the relevant part:

"No, he has not called me yet," Chris said. "I have not been in contact with anyone from Notre Dame since the new hire, but I'm hoping to hear from them sometime this week. It has not really hurt Notre Dame because I'm sure there is a good reason, I'm just going to wait and see about what they decide they want to do with me."

Now, let's check out Weis. Mike Frank of Irish Eyes called recruits last night and got their reaction to Weis' hire. Not only was he able to hear how they felt about their new head coach but he was also able to find out that they had actually talked to their new head coach.

For whatever reason, Weis, who only has been allowed two days out of seven to allocate toward Notre Dame while he's still employed as the Patriots' offensive coordinator, managed to call these recruits.

Charlie Weis was able to do in less than 24 hours what took Willingham days to accomplish - and in some cases, didn't get done whatsoever.

I'll say this...Derek Landri looked great last year, and Trevor Laws was impressive as a redshirt freshman, but I think most would agree that the loss of Greg Pauly wouldn't hurt so much had one phone call been made, and Jeremy Van Alstyne was playing for the Irish.


Finally, a shameless plug. Mike Frank is the best in the business at following Notre Dame football, and even more so, Notre Dame recruiting. There is no one who does it as well as he does. Everyone should check out that site and sign up immediately. You won't be disappointed. This is going to be an exciting time for Notre Dame football, and given the way Weis has already called our verbals and some outstanding recruits, I think we're going to see an aggressive recruiting approach that we haven't seen in some time. There will be lots of news, and most of it will be good. I think the example outlined above precisely demonstrates how and why Weis will be a much better recruiter than Willingham, and that's not even getting into the comparison of their assistants' recruiting prowess. Can't wait to do that post once we hire some guys...

1 comment:

  1. The C-Trib had a nice overview of Weis's recruiting potential this morning:

    New coach already ringing up sales
    Teddy Greenstein

    December 13, 2004

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Charlie Weis met with Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and a few of his teammates Sunday at 8:45 p.m.

    By 8:50, Quinn was a believer.

    "He had me sold," Quinn said. "He got right down to it, telling us about himself. Once he gets an opportunity to walk into a living room and talk to the recruit, it will be a done deal."

    What makes Quinn so sure Weis will be able to sell talented high school players on a team that's below .500 over the last two seasons, on a program that is 0-6 in bowl games since the 1994 Cotton, on an academic-minded institution located in a sleepy, cold-weather city?

    It's an attitude. As Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther said last week, some people can sell you an insurance policy, and some people can't.

    Weis, 48, has a brashness, a smart-alecky persona that should appeal to tough-minded football players.

    "He's always quick with a comeback," Patriots tight end Christian Fauria said Sunday. "And usually he one-ups you."

    If Weis were trying to sell you an '84 Toyota Corolla, he'd look you in the eye and say: "It's a piece of junk. But it's cheap, OK?"

    Said athletic director Kevin White: "I think Charlie's very straightforward and no-nonsense."

    At the podium, Weis is practically a clone of his first NFL boss, Bill Parcells. Like Parcells, Weis ends many of his thoughts by saying: "OK?"

    As in: "Recruiting doesn't have to be as big a chore as everyone thinks it is. But it is hard work, OK?"

    Weis deadpanned that he has been told "once or twice" that he sounds like Parcells. "We're both from New Jersey, what can I tell you?" he said. "Blame it on New Jersey."

    Parcells quit the Patriots in 1997 after his now-famous gem: "If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries."

    Weis will select all the ingredients for his team. The recruiting challenge falls on him and his soon-to-be-named staff.

    To hear Weis tell it, he will have no trouble persuading teenagers to join forces with the Irish. He believes splitting time as New England's offensive coordinator won't be a problem.

    "What's better recruiting," Weis asked, "than sitting in a Super Bowl locker room [in February] saying, 'Hey, you sure you don't want to come to school here?'"

    Joking aside, Weis' NFL track record will be huge. He has three Super Bowl rings from his time with the Giants and Patriots. He developed quarterback Tom Brady, a former sixth-round pick, into a two-time Super Bowl MVP. And he helped David Givens, an underachiever at Notre Dame, blossom into New England's 2004 receptions leader.

    "When players are going to college, to front-line programs, they want to be able to play on Sundays," Weis said. "Every one of them has [NFL] aspirations. I'm coming from teaching guys who play on Sundays, and I think that gives you a decisive advantage.

    "I can say, 'Hey, we're playing Miami Monday night, just go watch the game.'"

    Weis has one other advantage his predecessors did not. He's a Notre Dame alum, the first to return as head coach since Joe Kuharich in 1959, although Hugh Devore served one year as interim coach after Kuharich left in 1963.

    "And you heard my story, right?" Weis said. "I didn't play football. So here's a guy who just went to college here who's the head football coach. So think about it here for a second. That means the sky's the limit, right?"

    Copyright © 2004, The Chicago Tribune