Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Rolodex | by Jay

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.One of the neat things about Charlie is his extensive network of contacts throughout the football world. We're all familiar with the influence of Parcells and Belichick on Weis, but did you know one of his best friends is his opponent in the Super Bowl, Andy Reid? Neither did I.

Weis said Reid was one of the people he had leaned on for advice since taking over the Fighting Irish.

"I talk to Andy every week," said Weis, seated in his office late last month. "He is the best."

Weis said he had learned the most about running a successful program from New England's Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells of Dallas, both of whom have won Super Bowls. Parcells gave Weis his first NFL job, an assistant's position with the New York Giants in 1990. That team won the Super Bowl.

Weis said that in addition to Belichick, Reid and Carolina Panthers coach John Fox are the "two guys I lean on for advice the most."

Weis said that he met Reid years ago at the NFL scouting combine and that the two had been friends since. He and Fox have been longtime friends.

The last two teams New England has beaten in the Super Bowl are Carolina and the Eagles. Is that any way to treat friends? Apparently so.

"Beside the fact that he is a great coach, Andy Reid is as fine a man as you will ever meet," Weis said.

Great to have such connections in the fraternity. Yet, it's important to note that Charlie's search for assistant coaches went well beyond just the guys on his speed-dial. There's a nice USA Today cover story today that delved into his hiring process a bit:

Even though the hiring process for Ty Willingham's successor had to be completed quickly because of the Feb. 2 signing day for recruits, Weis had prepared for the moment months earlier.

"Last summer I told (Patriots head coach) Bill Belichick I would consider one or two college jobs if they came open, and Notre Dame obviously was at the head of that list," said Weis, a 1978 Notre Dame graduate who did not play for the Irish.

"I started researching college coaching staffs and potential college coaches ... in case that came to fruition. I looked for experience, recruiting and familiarity" with Notre Dame.

When Weis hired his staff, he followed that blueprint, adding some coaches who were unexpectedly available. He had a previous relationship with only two of the nine assistants he hired.
So here's a man who has any number of great contacts in the coaching world, yet he seemingly canvassed the entire country in search of the best of the best, found some great guys he didn't previously know, and had no hesitation in hiring them. At one point, Peyton Manning even called Charlie to lobby for Cutcliffe. "Now it was a game plan night so I think (Manning) was conspiring to get me to lose," Weis said. "But the fact that he went out of his way to leave such a nice message, I thought it was a ringing endorsement." Nice contacts, indeed.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that we're paying the market rate for top-notch assistants, something we apparently didn't extend to Willingham.
Weis could land such a staff based on his reputation — and because athletics director Kevin White opened the checkbook to pay for the assistants' salaries, not always the case in the past.

"When Kevin White sent me over the offer sheet for my initial offer (six years for what local media reported as $2 million a year), I did not ask for one extra dollar. When they offered, I took it," Weis said. "In due return, I think Kevin went out of his way, along with the administration, to come up with the funds to get this coaching staff.

Of course, even if the money were available, Ty probably wouldn't have cast his nets widely as Charlie did, and that's the point of all this. Loyalty is a nice attribute, but with Ty, it crossed the line to a dysfunctional brand of nepotism. Charlie's not bound by any such limitations, and like any great leader, he's not afraid to go and surround himself with the very best.