Aug 31, 2009, 5:15 PM EDT
The South Bend Tribune wasn’t the only news organization to get a sit-down with Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick. Here’s a small sampling of Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune’s interview.
What he thinks of this year’s Irish:
“If you can find an AD who doesn’t go into the season optimistic, you’ve done a helluva job. But I am. I’ve been to probably half the practices, maybe more. The things that strike you immediately are the greater depth, the better team speed – athleticism generally but team speed in particular. The tempo has been great. I really am optimistic.”
On why this year is an “important” year:
“Football at Notre Dame has to succeed. It’s important on a ton of levels. It’s important for the school, the psyche of the university, the way people feel about the school and their relationship to it. I can’t tell you the number of people who say to me – people who have no allegiance or interest in Notre Dame football – that college football is better when you guys are better. It’s important for that reason, too.
“All of us engaged feel an equal obligation to get us back there, to where we are in the conversation, where people view us as one of the better teams in the country.”
Is this season an important season for Charlie Weis specifically?
“Both Charlie and I understand how people look at this, the pressure associated with that job. But it’s about the program. I don’t approach this or any other season as a referendum on an individual. It’s about where we are with the program. I’ve said it several times. We may have successful years in sports where you evaluate the sport and you’ve got an issue with the coach, because of one of the other factors I mentioned. I understand. I’m a fan, too. I understand why fans crystallize it down to won-loss and impact on the coach. But from the perspective of the way I manage, it’s not that simple.
“It can cut both ways. You can have a team that has won-loss record success and fails on another number of categories, and that would be an issue for us, regardless of the program. And you can have a team that lost three quarterbacks but did everything else in a really optimal way, and you can evaluate that a different way. We all want to win. And it’s critical. But you evaluate how you win, what the quality of the performance was.”
If people have the wrong idea of who Charlie Weis is, what are they missing?
“The two things I think people don’t necessarily see or get – one is, his extraordinary generosity. He’s a guy who, with his time, his talents and his resources, engages in more acts of generosity for which he wants no recognition. He will consistently go the extra step to help people… The other is, that I think people really don’t have a sense of, is the affinity between he and his players. His success in recruiting and the experience of kids here reflects the extent to which the young men who play for him really do like him as a person, like playing for him. Some of them said things in the preseason that sort of reflect that, sort of personalizing their commitment as a commitment to him.”
If the team doesn’t make the BCS, does that make the season a disappointment?
“We’ll all be disappointed. It won’t be me. Again, it’s being in contention, it’s being in the mix, it’s having people talk about whether you’re going to get in. We all will be disappointed. We all shared the disappointment of the end of the season last year, prior to the bowl game. We all experienced that and felt that together. There was nobody after the Syracuse or USC game saying, Not our fault. It was our fault.
“We’re trying to build momentum in the program. So you want to continue that momentum. You want to be better this year than you were last year… yeah, the disappointment would be greater.”
For the rest of the interview, check it out here.