6 Reasons Why Notre Dame Should Keep Charlie Weis for Another Year

The following post was written by Robert Miller.

As a 2000 Notre Dame alum and avid college football fan, all I have been hearing since Notre Dame lost to Navy is that Charlie Weis should be fired. It is easy to let emotions cloud judgment but a level-headed approach suggests a different outcome.

The following are reasons why he should NOTbe fired:

  1. The next coach will do no better because recruiting is what separates BCS contenders from non-contenders. Weis does not have the players to do any better than he is doing. The defense is average at best and is severely lacking speed and size. The offensive skill players are NFL caliber but the o-line is also average; otherwise the Irish running backs would have had a field day against the undersized Navy defense.
  2. The south has access to disproportionate amount of the talent which makes it difficult for old-school northern powerhouses (e.g., Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame) to compete in recruiting with teams from the south. The objective measure of talent is that a southern or southwestern team has won the BCS championship the last six years (i.e., SEC, Big 12 South, and USC). The last time a northern powerhouse won was when Ohio State beat Miami in double overtime and the only other northern team to win a BCS championship is Nebraska. The trend of the south dominating the north begs several questions. Why would a large number of top recruits come to freezing South Bend when they can go to sunny USC, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Florida, or anywhere else in the south to southwest? Why would Saban, Meyer, and all other “genius” coaches go south instead of north? Why has Bob Stoops not come to ND? The answer is they can get better talent in the south. The SEC is highly competitive so you would think coaches would not want to coach there, but they continue to choose highly competitive southern jobs over less competitive northern jobs.
  3. Weis needs more time to get better Irish defensive recruits. Notre Dame’s defense is like Tecmo Bowl on Sega Genesis. If you call the other team’s play then you sack them for a 10 yard loss; otherwise Dan Marino throws a 100 yard TD pass to Mark Clayton. The Irish defense has been bad all year and the only way to improve it is to get better talent. Stealing Manti Te’o from USC last year was a start but the Irish need to get a greater volume of top defensive players including a pair of studs on the defensive line that can attack opposing quarterbacks and an uber-fast safety to slow down opposing running backs.
  4. Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate are more likely to stay for their senior seasons if Charlie Weis remains the play caller because both have flourished in his system. Both want to finish strong and get Notre Dame back to a BCS game and having Weis on board gives them the best chance to do that. Further, they do not need another reason to leave after watching Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and Sam Bradford have average senior seasons while Mark Sanchez and Percy Harvin are getting valuable experiences in the NFL.
  5. Buying out Weis’ remaining salary can only facilitate rising tuition costs for a school that is on pace to charge a million dollars for a four year degree by the year 2035. In addition, Notre Dame was one of a few schools to raise football ticket prices in 2009 after the country’s economic meltdown. Notre Dame should at least let Weis complete his original six-year contract that had him coaching through the 2010 season.
  6. Notre Dame will beat Pittsburgh this weekend despite Dion Lewis running all over the Irish defense. Clausen, Tate, and Floyd are on a mission for redemption after a devastating Navy loss. Further, the Irish can still qualify for the Gator Bowl which is where they belong anyway because a BCS Bowl-caliber team like Texas, TCU, or Georgia Tech would have smoked ND’s defense.

In sum, any coach is going to struggle to meet expectations at Notre Dame. What’s more, reasons 1-3 can be applied to Rich Rodriguez and Michigan. Fans and alums of northern schools should realize that their football team’s lack of success is a result of bigger forces (e.g., access to talent) than their team’s coach.

–Robert Miller

23 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why Notre Dame Should Keep Charlie Weis for Another Year”

  1. I like #6! I am also afraid that a coaching transition will hurt our recuriting efforts this year. We have a ton of highly rated recruits that we might sign, but they will be gone if we handle a coaching transition as well as the last 3.

  2. I know there is a chance jimmy and/or tate would go anyway but if charlie leaves jimmy is definitely going to the NFL and we dont want that. Also agree that our defense is what it is, you cant make kids faster or bigger there isn't much charlie could do about it at this point, so firing him doesnt make our defense any better. Its the players that miss catches, kick wide left, fumble the ball, miss tackles…not all of this can be blamed on the coach.

  3. Good point. ND thought they had Urban Meyer locked up 5 years ago and that didn't work out well. ESPN pundits think Cincinnati's head coach Brian Kelly is the #1 option to replace Weis but I agree continuity is what the program needs right now; even if Kelly would be a good fit.

  4. I wrote a very very long response, but the first 75% got deleted, so here is the second part:Notre Dame has lost three games this year. The first was to Michigan, in a truly electric Big House, against a freshman quarterback that was yet to be brought down to earth. The Irish defense was incapable of stripping Tate Forcier of his most valuable weapon (confidence), and Forcier was able to take advantage of the Notre Dame defense – and the horrific officiating – to pull the upset. I really have a hard time blaming Weis for this game. Jonas Gray fumbled, leading to the biggest momentum swing of the game, the officials took points from the Irish offense every chance possible, and Mike Floyd was sidelined in the final minutes. Fans called for Weis' head after he decided to pass instead of run some time off the clock, but I stood by him. The ND defense would've given up a TD in 58 seconds as easily as it did in 100 seconds. By the same token, if the referee had been able to get the yellow flag out of his pocket to call a pass interference flag on the 2nd down pass attempt, the Irish would've won the game.The second loss is the one that I believe Weis deserves the most blame for. In their first offensive drive of the game, the Irish came out in a shotgun formation, with two running backs in the backfield with Clausen. It was a gimmicky formation that hadn't been run all year. In the first half, you just got the feeling that Jimmy Clausen and Co. were playing too tight, and I put the blame on Weis being a bit psyched out by Pete Carroll's defense. However, you have to admire the way that the Irish fought back to make the game close.Finally, the most recent loss to Navy has everyone calling for Weis' head. During the course of the game, kicker Nick Tausch missed two very makable field goals, Jimmy Clausen fumbled on the goal line, and Mike Floyd forgot what route he was supposed to run, and allowed what could've been a TD pass to be intercepted. None of these very blatant miscues were Weis' fault, and if my math serves me correctly, the Irish left twenty points out on the field. Last time I checked, Notre Dame lost the game by two points.My point is that you can only attribute one loss (USC) to Notre Dame not being the better, and more prepared team on the field. The Michigan loss was due to bad calls, and one really bad fumble, and the Navy loss was due to Notre Dame just having one of those days.If Weis is fired, Jimmy Clausen is sure to head to the NFL draft. Dayne Crist just had surgery to repair his ACL, and there is a good chance he won't be participating in spring practice. What coach in his right mind would want to enter a program with no scholarship quarterback in spring practice? Next season would be a total mess. On a similar note, unless the Irish have Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly ready to sign a contract, what's the point of firing Weis? Do we really want another head coach that is simply replacing our old one? And if anyone out there thinks getting Brian Kelly would be easy, let me pose this question: If Cincinnati is 12-0 and heading to a BCS bowl, there is no chance that Kelly will considering talking to Notre Dame until the second week of January. By that time, the current highly touted recruiting class, who will be getting ready to sign letters on intent the first week of February, will surely change commitments to schools with active head coaches. For all of the reason above, Weis should stay, and if he can find a way to win out and finish 9-3, I firmly believe that he will stay. If Weis loses to either Pitt or Stanford and finished 8-4, I would understand the decision either way. On the other hand, if Notre Dame ends up losing 2 or more games this year, to finish 7-5 or 6-6, I will be leading the 'Fire Charlie' chants outside of Notre Dame's Guglielmino Football Center.

  5. in short the first part of the post said:defense is not weis' fault at all, and his recruiting has been very strong. he has pulled guys out of florida and california, and has had top classes each year. its all about the defense. everyone has gotten worse over the last few years. the original post was much more detailed, but just one example:Darrin Walls, Raeshon Mcneil, Gary Gray and Robert Blanton were all rated as top 15 CBs in high school. There is no reason the secondary should be so awful.

  6. A few things….1.jackandmilo24 you should spend more time studying.2.There is a 99% chance Jimmy leaves regardless of who is in place as head coach for the 2010 season.3.I agree coaching is not the sole reason ND lost to Navy, but to think it didn't play a role is silly (in my opinion). The play calling in the red zone left much to be desired, and the fact that it took them 2.5 quarters to realize that a speedster (like Riddick) would have much more success than a bruiser (like Hughes) against a slower Navy front seven is somewhat troubling.4.Finally with regards to the defensive recruits, while the secondary has clearly looked bad (and at times REALLY bad) I think almost any secondary would look bad when you essentially have myself and 2 or 3 clones rushing the passer (not a good thing). When the QB is almost never pressured in college football he can generally make any secondary look bad. ND needs to recruit a couple of big time defensive lineman before its defensive woes go away.

  7. Rob, I understand your points, and a few of the others in the comments, but what I notice some people are forgetting is that Charlie is the HEAD COACH. Saying that the defense is a problem is extremely obvious, but unfortunately, that rests on Charlie's shoulders as the head coach. If it weren't his responsibility, then he would just be an offensive coordinator, and wouldn't be getting paid a huge sum of money to lose to Navy.He has had 5 years to not only recruit defensive talent, but also to hire assistant coaches that can develop that talent in to a championship caliber defense. And he has failed miserably at both. There have been numerous defensive line misses over the past 5 years that have put us in a hole talent wise compared to the top tier programs.Also, I think most people were excited when Tenuta was hired a few years ago, but this guy has been exposed, and it is very confusing to say the least why his scheme is not working like it did at Georgia Tech. But again, that rests on Weis as the head coach to select assistants.Look at USC as an example. Yes, Carroll runs quite a different program, and has clear advantages in recruiting that we just don't have. But look at the crop of assistants that he had that really drove the ship there. Chow, Sarkisian, Kiffin, etc. Top assistants who know how to develop talent. Good head coaches are supposed to be more managerial than task masters – it's clear that Weis has not spent enough time on the defensive side of the ball selecting good assistants that he can trust. And that very well may be his downfall.

  8. You don't really follow recruiting do you? Not only has Notre Dame consistently brought in massive amounts of 5-star talent (remember, you got the #1 recruiting in the country last year, again), but they are always in the top 10 in terms of recruiting rank. In 2008, they were #2, in 2007 they were #11, in 2006 they were #5, etc. Weis has squandered more talent than any coach in the country, and that's largely one of the reasons people are calling for his head.Over the past 5 years, Weis has developed this talent into a team that, this year, can't beat a struggling Michigan team, Navy, or the most suspect USC team of the decade. Charlie Weis is, without a doubt, one of the worst coaches in college football.And when you say that the South has an advantage in terms of where the talent is, you're right. But you need someone who recruits nationally–Pete Carroll, Rich Rodriguez, Urban Meyer. Notre Dame fans should be begging for Brian Kelly to leave Cincinnati and head to ND. Kelly is a truly great coach, recruits well, and would almost immediately turn ND back into a contender.But either way, I suggest you get your facts straight before writing essays asking to sustain one of the more embarrassing moments in Notre Dame football history.

  9. Burgeoning Wolverine Star, you are correct, I do not follow recruiting closely but do believe ND's recruiting rankings are inflated to increase interest in the rankings. Who cares if Iowa gets a 5 star recruit but a lot of people will care if ND gets a 5 star recruit. The only reason I know that Manti Te'o was stolen from USC is because Notre Dame has a large, national following so ESPN and others made a big deal about it. Would I have known if Florida stole Manti Te'o from LSU? Probably not because both schools are expected to get plenty of five star recruits.I recently moved to Blacksburg, VA and am amazed at how fast Virginia Tech's defense is in comparison to ND's defense. Tech's defense swarms to the ball leveling fools with vicious hits. You can't tell me that Notre Dame has the same defensive team speed as Virginia Tech; or most of the schools in the south for that matter. It is not even close. You can't coach speed and ND doesn't have it; how else do you explain Navy's fullback sprinting past ND's linebackers? To Brian's point, my guess is that Tenuta's scheme works just fine with the right players in place.This isn't an encyclopedia. I didn't state any facts; only opinions. Ever since Holtz left (my freshman year), it has been one continuous embarrassing moment; many of which I have experienced in person. I'm merely trying to point out that there is a larger trend going on in college football that is more likely to be fixed with continuity than with a coaching carousel. For example, ask Nebraska fan how their coaching carousel is going and Michigan fan should think twice before running Rich Rodriguez out of town. Finally, of course Charlie is recruiting nationally that is one of the reasons why they are playing an 8th NBC home game on a neutral field. He just needs to do a better job of it. Brian Kelly would be smart to stay at Cincinnati where expectations are low and he has plenty of time to build his program.

  10. It's funny how you're excusing poor coaching with vague answers. Recruiting is a national sport now. People follow it. There are blogs dedicated to it. Manti Te'o was known by everyone who even occasionally checks in on recruiting. Heard of Seantrel Henderson? He's probably going to go to Minnesota. It's going to be a really big story.Your opinion of Notre Dame is a little high and mighty. Notre Dame is no longer the power they once were; interest in ND /= interest in college football as a whole. No one is inflating ND's recruiting rank so that people will be happy and interested. Hell, you're nominally a sports writer who doesn't even follow recruiting. Why would Joe Shmo care about it?You complain that Notre Dame needs to recruit better, but they pull in, consistently, 4- and 5-star recruits. Every year. And have the recruiting rankings to prove it (seriously, Google this and look at the talent Notre Dame brings in). Maybe the reason your defense doesn't look as fast as VaTech's is because your coaches have poor game plans, bad playbooks, a terrible S&C program, and can't coach up the players the way they should be.Finding fault in your players when, year after year after year, Notre Dame brings in blue chip recruits is short sighted and naive. You're a Weis supporter, I get that. But you need to stop looking at this situation through blue and gold lenses and realize that Weis has as much talent at his disposal as any coach in the country and continually turns in middling teams. When do you stop blaming the guru-approved super recruits and start looking a little higher.Oh, and in terms of Brian Kelly, um, what? Build his program? Expectations are low? You do realize that Cincinnati is about one game away from playing for the National Championship right now? Kelly's been there since 2006 and has, in that time, turned Cincy into a national power. Your lack of knowledge of the college football world makes me think you shouldn't be writing things like this column.(And as a Michigan alum and someone who runs a Michigan blog, I can confidently tell you that no one is running Rodriguez out of town. You should probably pay a little more attention to the sport you're writing about and stop listening to Michael Wilbon.)

  11. Burgeoning Wolverine Star – go post on your own Michigan blog, troll. This is why I hate Michigan fans and always will. Keep Dick Rod there forever – I think all ND fans, and all big ten fans, would like that to happen. Rob is just a good guy who likes to write his opinions on ND football, nothing more, nothing less. I don't think Rob has made himself out to be a "sports writer".

  12. The name of this blog is The Sports Journalists. "Nominally a sports writer" seems a particularly apt description.There's a difference between being a troll and, ya know, being right. Some might even argue that you coming in here and getting pushy, while not having any actual argument… well nevermind.I'm of the belief that if you're going to blog about something, you should have at least a base understanding of the topic. Randomly saying things like Notre Dame needs to recruit better is not an argument when they've recruited as well as anyone in the country. I felt the need to point that out because this is a blog I read often.Opinions are worthwhile. Opinions based on factually incorrect premises are fantasy. "6 reasons Glenn Beck should be president. 1) He's a unicorn…". Just my opinion.

  13. Wolverine:You make some decent points, but when it comes to recruiting, while you may follow it, I'm not so sure you "get it." I agree that no one is inflating ND's recruiting rankings to make people interested. However, schools start looking into prospects long before they are ranked. For that reason, there could be an average prospect that end up with a 5 star rating simply because Notre Dame or a Florida offered him, and Rivals and Scout thought he must be good.

  14. Also, when you say that ND has recruited very well, that doesn't mean that they haven't left holes. They have recruited offense very well, which leads to the high rankings each year. However, look at all the starters on Florida's defense right now that ND finished in 2nd place for:Major Wright, Justin Trattou, Carlos Dunlap. Those are the kinds of recruits that ND needs to be pulling in, and those three names justify Rob's original post.

  15. Brian, thanks for getting my back. BWS, I do need to clarify a few things. First, Andrew Kahn is a legitimate sports journalists. I, Robert Miller, am not. I am helping him out with online marketing (what I do well) and occasionally by writing content; which you have aptly pointed out is potentially doing him and this blog a disservice.Second, I am not a Weis supporter. I think he is a horrible motivator and unwilling or unable to change his methods to fit the situation. However, Notre Dame needs to ride him out for at least one more year.Third, Brian Kelly would be the first to say that Cincinnati is not a national power and not even the best team in their state. He knows he gets to prove both when they play Ohio State in 2012. Cincinnati would get smoked by Florida, Alabama, Texas, or TCU but lucky for them that won't be an option because they'll either lose to PITT and/or WVU; or the BCS will screw them over.Finally, I've made a mental note to monitor how many of ND's players get drafted in the NFL over the next few years to see whether you are correct about ND's recruiting. But I'm not holding my breath for a Matt Cassel type situation.

  16. Stephen, the recruiting point is a good one and is noted. But even a player who regularly wouldn't get attention gets scouted by Notre Dame or Florida and then picks up a ranking doesn't jump to 4- and 5-star recruit status. Actually, the lack of three stars in ND's recruiting classes is enough to suggest that they're not picking kids out of the woodwork. Blaming recruiting classes for a lack of on-field success when year after year, the team is bringing in countless 5-stars is simply wrong. Sooner or later that needs to be put on the coach. One or two five-star misses is OK. When it's a yearly occurrence, there's a problem.And actually, more importantly, if you're not happy with Weis' recruiting thus far and his being beaten out by Florida and USC for big-name recruits, what makes you think that it will change in the future? It's not like Weis just got there. Recruiting is arguably, the most important job a head coach has. If you're not happy with the current recruiting, that should be a big knock against Weis. Recruits don't just materialize and if you think he's bad at recruiting (he's not, he's one of the best in the country which is why his record is so damning for his job), you should want him out as well.Robert: I know Andrew is a journalist. I was his editor for two years.In terms of Brian Kelly, I really think you're lost here. Cincinnati is #5 in the BCS poll right now and is currently tearing through the Big East. In fact, I–and most people that follow the sport closely; read Dr. Saturday, he'll agree–would argue that Cincy actually is the best team in Ohio. The BCS polls indicate it. The records indicate it. Etc. In a few years when they play, they will be different teams. Right now, Cincy is a national power.But furthermore on Kelly: Do you know where Urban Meyer was before Florida? Utah. Where he turned them into a hell of a program, just like Kelly is currently doing at Cincy, Rich Rodriguez did at West Virginia, and on and on. Great coaches need to start somewhere, and when you're lucky enough to get one of them when they take the next step up (like Notre Dame has with Kelly), you have to jump at that chance. Gone are the days of the big powers ruling the country and having all the best talent and coaches. Teams like Cincy are for real and Brian Kelly, along with Paul Johnson, Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll, and Nick Saban are the best coaches in the country. Kelly will be a steal for anyone who gets him, if and when he decides to leave Cincy. Notre Dame would be so lucky.

  17. In the NFL, "you are what your record says your are" but unfortunately in college "you are what your ranking says you are" doesn't work as well (e.g., Mississippi, Oregon, USC, etc.). We'll find out soon enough if Cincinnati is a national power and maybe even tonight with a loss to WVU.Urban Meyer is a great coach but he would not have won two national titles in four years at ND. His wife didn't want to live in South Bend or maybe, just maybe, that was his excuse for saying no when in reality he saw more to work with at Florida. How many titles do you think ND would have if he had taken the job?I agree, Notre Dame would do very well to get Brian Kelly but Brian Kelly would do better to go somewhere else (e.g., Florida State). Further, how much more hype can you get than signing Charlie Weis five years ago after his numerous super bowl runs and proclaimed offense genius? Hiring Brian Kelly, like Weis before him, would only placate the ND alums and fans base but doesn't guarantee ND's return to prominence nor increase its likelihood. Notre Dame producing high NFL drafts picks is a great place to start and I think Clausen and Floyd have a good chance to be drafted in early rounds.

  18. Hey, everyone, I'm here to present some facts, and nothing more. I had no agenda when looking up these numbers and had no idea what I'd find since I don't follow recruiting. I was simply interested after reading the arguments presented here. Here are some numbers for Notre Dame's recruiting class rankings for the past 4 years, with the number of 5-star recruits in parentheses (ESPN uses grades, not stars, so I couldn't provide that info for their rankings). I can't incorporate even a simple chart in a comment, so just know that the first rating is from Rivals, the second is from ESPN, and the third is from Scout.2009: 21(1), 14, 23(2)2008: 2(3), 9, 2(4)2007: 8(1), 8, 11(1) 2006: 8(2), 5, 5(3)

  19. It should be noted that 5-star recruits are a) not that common and b) not what makes a class great–just as a little context for Andrew's post. There are somewhere in the range of 20-25 5-star recruits every year. For one program to pick up 1-4 every year from the last four years means you're doing a great job recruiting. A truly great job. Because no team, outside of maybe Florida and USC, gets more than 2 5-stars in a class, what really excels your recruiting ranking is 4-stars and a lack of lower rated players. Notre Dame's recruiting has been consistently through the roof.Oh, and Robert: If Urban Meyer had come to Notre Dame instead of Florida when he did, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Notre Dame would've won a National Championship. From the way Meyer recruits (getting Tebow; 5-star recruit…), to his schemes, to the way he runs a football program, Meyer is so far above Weis in every single way that Notre Dame would be walking around with a little more pride right now.Also, NFL success /= college success. That's been proven time after time after time. Weis simply doesn't have what it takes to be a college coach, and he's proven that over the last five years.More importantly, though: Brian Kelly talk, just today, from the smartest person writing about college football, Chris Brown.

  20. Yes, it seems that even two 5-stars is a big deal, since only a few schools have more than that in a given year. However, the numbers also point out that ND certainly did not have the #1 class last year (not even close).

  21. Last year shouldn't be a factor right now, though; true freshmen should rarely, if ever, play. So a weak recruiting class in 2009 should hardly be a reflection of Notre Dame's current on-field success. (That said, 20th best recruiting class in the nation is nothing to shake a stick at.)On the field right now for ND, conservatively, are the 8th, 8th, and 2nd best recruiting classes of the last three years. They lost to Navy last week. That's a systemic problem.And just a clarification, I never said that they had the #1 class last year. I said they picked up the #1 recruit in the country in Manti Te'o.

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