Friday, May 11, 2007

BGS bits | by Jay

There were a slate of good articles coming out this morning following an appearnce by Charlie in Wilkes-Barre, PA, for a Volunteers of America dinner. The most interesting read is this piece from Jerry Kellar of the Times Leader.

WILKES-BARRE – With Brady Quinn off to the NFL and Notre Dame’s returning crop of quarterbacks young and untested, head coach Charlie Weis knew it was going to take someone unique to guide the most important position on the team.

So he offered the job to Ron Powlus.

“This has been a very good situation for me, especially going into this year with a bunch of inexperienced quarterbacks,” said Weis, the principal speaker at Thursday’s fourth annual Volunteers of America Celebrity Benefit Dinner at Genetti Hotel & Conference Center.

“To have a guy that had been working as my director of player personnel for the last two years, that I got to watch how he works … and being able to have a guy like that who basically started at Notre Dame for four years and was under the pressure of being a Notre Dame quarterback, it’s really been a very smooth transition for both he and I.”

A former Berwick High School All-American, Powlus set a whopping 20 passing records during his time in South Bend (1993-1996). Although most of those marks were erased by Quinn, a recent first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, Powlus still holds plenty of cache at his collegiate alma mater.

He’ll be working with a group of talented athletes, including highly regarded California signal-caller Jimmy Clausen, the nation’s top recruit last year.

“Not one of them has played a meaningful down,” Weis said of his QBs. “(Ron) can answer questions that I can’t answer. I was not a player; he was a player. So he can answer questions that I do not have the background to answer.”

Despite being at Notre Dame for just two seasons, Weis, who won three Super Bowl championships as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, has been rumored to be heading back to the NFL, this time as a head coach.

Not so, he said Thursday.

“The first year at Notre Dame, there were several inquiries,” Weis admitted. “You know, it’s funny. You’re an offensive coordinator and you’re trying to get a head coaching job, all of sudden you get a head coaching job and now everyone offers you jobs.”

With the intention of keeping their man, Notre Dame officials ripped up their original six-year contract with Weis and gave him an 11-year deal.

Combine that with the quick firing of former coach Ty Willingham, who preceded Weis, and many of the school’s former players were left angered at the Notre Dame administration.

One of the disgruntled alumni, former All-America defensive tackle Chris Zorich, said during a recent speaking engagement in Wilkes-Barre that Weis reached out to him upon learning of the player’s feelings.

“It was a one-sided conversation, but that’s OK,” Weis said. “I think I had to do some – I wouldn’t say smoothing over – but I think a lot of people did not have all the information on the coaching change. I think the fact that I went to Notre Dame made it a lot easier with people like Chris … when I can pick up the phone say, ‘Look it, here’s what really happened.’”

Though Weis didn’t say if his new deal includes an escape clause, he pointed out that the terms of the contract are written in such a manner “so that there’s too many tie-ins both ways where I couldn’t leave and they couldn’t get rid of me.

“And when you go on the road in a recruiting setting and a parent asks you that question, when you give that answer that suffices because that’s the truth.”

Weis revealed that his passion for the university started when he was a young sports fan growing up in New Jersey. Fighting Irish football highlights were a staple of his Sunday mornings. After that, he was hooked. Not long thereafter, he became a Notre Dame student.

“I think that that’s probably one of the biggest advantages I had over the last couple of coaches is that I walked that walk. … I lived that experience,” he said of his time at the school. “So for me, I was part of that passion.”
Interesting stuff there about the damage control Charlie had to do following his contract extension.

• Speaking of Zorro, did you hear he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame? For my money, he was the best defensive lineman going back to when I was in school, and that includes Bryant Young (a terrific player in his own right). Zorich, slicing through the line in his half-jersey and destroying ball carriers, was really the fulcrum of that '88 defense, and everyone else keyed off of his intensity and relentlessness. To see what I'm talking about, check out this Zorich Video Tribute put together by (IE required). Zorro was the best.

• As noted by our intrepid commenters, a Darius Walker contract with the Houston Texans is imminent, thus bringing to an end Darius' twisting travels since declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft.