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Cliff Notes guide to the case against Charlie

Nov 17, 2009, 7:30 AM EDT

I’m not here this morning to change anyone’s opinion. Most of us have made up our mind on what the fate of Charlie Weis should be. But if I have a complaint, it’s when the big dogs come out and weigh in on a coach under fire.

Dan Shaughnessy, one of the finest sportswriters in the land, decided that “after a promising start, it’s clear Charlie Weis is done at Notre Dame.” And that proclamation was the cover story on Sports Illustrated’s website.

I’ve got nothing on Shaughnessy as a writer, he’s probably gotten lost on his way to more big games than I’ve ever seen, but if I’m supposed to believe that Shaughnessy’s opinion on Charlie Weis’ job means more than the average Notre Dame fans, then I’m lost.

His new column over at SI.com is your basic Cliff Notes to the Weis must go argument, and for a writer as good as Shaughnessy, he might as well have delivered this one with a Forever Stamp.

In a trim 800 words, Shaughnessy regurgitated the same tired facts:

* Weis has the same record as Bob Davie.

* Weis has the same winning percentage that Ty Willingham had.

* Weis’ best game was a loss to the mighty 2005 USC Trojans.

* Weis lost to Navy two weeks ago. “Navy! In South Bend!”

Listen, I’m not arguing the merits of this case, I’m just complaining that something this tired and played out can be spit out by a writer so esteemed, and then slapped up as the header on one of the most prestigious websites about sports.

When a guy like Shaughnessy, who probably hasn’t actually sat down and watched a Notre Dame game this season, reheats the major talking points without adding a single unique thought to the “should-he-stay-or-should-he-go” debate, it’s just a bunch of hot air.

So much for Notre Dame football being irrelevant…

  1. TLNDMA - Nov 17, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    Absolutely dead on Keith. Everyone has an opinion about ND. Even if Danny has watched a game, he was rooting for BC in that one. When the axe falls, all tne haters will have an opinion on that one too. You’re correct,on how liitle research these professionals do

  2. Dennis - Nov 17, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    It’s especially frustrating when all of these anti-Weis people compare Weis to Davie and Willingham without recognizing the unbelievably huge difference in expectations going into the next season.
    When Willingham and Davie were fired, I felt like the program was in a deep hole. But, assuming Clausen and Tate stay, fans are generally expecting this team to contend for a national championship next year. Sure, they might not stay and we could be in for another mediocre year, but Weis brought those guys in, not just two good players, two Heisman candidates. And we were a broken collarbone away from having a third legitimate Heisman contender. That’s insane.
    Is it really worth getting rid of a guy that’s bringing in that kind of talent because those players literally handed Navy a win via turnover? No one would ever say the offense was a problem this year, it was 100% the defense. Sure, Weis is the head coach, but he brought in the best defensive coordinator on the market and the guy is laying an egg. In short, the anti-Weis crowd is delusional to think that Weis doesn’t have this program moving in a very positive direction.

  3. Toof - Nov 17, 2009 at 9:52 AM

    Dennis’ I would say its about 90% I don’t care how many turnovers ND had you don’t score 21 and 0 in the first half against Navy you just don’t and that comes down to lack of coaching on both side of the ball and I just think its time for a change cause no matter how many top recruits ND got with Weis and the other coaches they will always be an 8-4 team. Here’s the three coaches I would call first B. Kelly J.Harbaugh G.Patterson and ND nation can we PLEASE quit making the fat comments about Weis.

  4. jd mulrooney - Nov 17, 2009 at 10:16 AM

    Who says that Dan S. is one of the best in the nation? He writes for the GLOBE,and as all writers for Boston papers, tries to make all the NE teams better than they really are, especially BC.
    He has as much to say about Charlie’s future as I do…ZIP!

  5. ugetwutuask4 - Nov 17, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    DENNIS I must say I really respect your opinion. I feel as if your slighting everyone elses opinion. I don’t think your watching the same ND games that the majority of fans be it in the stadium or sittin at home watching the games because it seems as if they’re all coming up with the same conclusion. And it’s similar to your conclusion, my conclusion, and alot of other conclusions. 1.Charlie is a great man and has done more than most have for ND since HOLTZ. 2.Charlie does deserve to finish coaching at least this last class of his boys next year. 3.Charlie does deserve better respect from everyone not only as a human being but also as a man who is a proven winner throughout most of his career in everything he does whether it’s through philanthropy, coaching, recruiting, etc. 4.Charlie said best right now we are a 6-4 team with two games left on the schedule and 6-6 with possibility of JIMMY AND TATE leaving early JUST AINT GOOD ENOUGH!

  6. Noid - Nov 17, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    I don’t ever like to compare the stats of one coach to another. I have to look at the program as a whole package. I personally feel Weis just does not have it as a head coach. Yes he can bring in great talent, yes his offenses can show many shades of greatness, no we have not seen a solid defense – yet we have very talented players. As I see it, Weis cannot get the full potential from his very talented players. I can gaurantee you Jim Harbaugh at Stanford has no where near the talent that Weis has, but he is motivating his players and getting more out of them. Weis lacks the ability to motivate them to the next level where a USC, Florida, Ohio State, Alabama, etc is at. Notre Dame is just a sub-par mid-level division 1 team year after year under Weis. I would rank Notre Dame somewhere between 40-70 out of the 120 teams. He does not have a big win yet. And a win over Michigan does not count, because those two programs have been going 50/50, for the most part, no matter how good each others team may be. In conclusion, Weis just does not have “it”, and he needs to go. Notre Dame needs to choose their next coach carefully, making sure he continues bringing in the top recruits, and we absolutely need to see a definitive change in the attitude and motivation these players will showing in every game. Call it the “we will win” attitude, that will actually go along with winning 85% or better of all their games, including those at the top level.

  7. mrrandolph - Nov 17, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    Just in case that Charlie is retained, here is food for thought on how fast things can turn around. This issome notable turnarounds in the last 10 Years.
    Team Record
    Oklahoma 1999 7-5
    2000 Nat’l Champion
    Ohio State 2001 7-5
    2002 Nat’l Champion
    LSU 2002 8-5
    2003 Nat’l Champion
    USC 2002 6-6
    2003 11-2 (AP) Nat’l Champion
    2004 Nat’l Champion
    Florida 2007 9-4
    2008 Nat’l Champion
    Auburn 2003 8-5
    2004 13-0 Should have
    gotten a share of Nat’l Title

  8. eric - Nov 17, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    Dennis, Awesome brother, just awesome. I couldnt say it any better myself. Well, you did leave one thing out..the graduation rate at ND for student athletes is number 2 in the country, second to only Navy! Thats a feat in itself. Then you see the recruiting level, which is astronomically better than Davie or Willingham ever came close to. Then you look at the passion, pride, and tradition he restored, which i also think wilted during Willinghams last 2 years.
    The team has lost 4 games by a total of 19 points! Its not like ND got blown out, and embarassed (Navy’s QB just broke a single season TD record that stood since 1917, so lets give them a little credit), they just lost close games…games they all had a chance to win. Giving him one more year, save he loses the last 2 games that is, is the right thing to do not only by Weis for all he has done in his tenure as Coach..but for the players too. These guys dont want his firing on their shoulders, and it also sends them a message that we dont believe in them.
    Heres some other consequences if Weis is fired:
    Clausen likely is gone with Weis, along with Tate.
    Depending on the new Coach, some players will likely leave, along with some really stand out incoming recruits (Chris Martin comes to mind). The program will not just turn itself around with a new coach, sorry it will take some time. Remember, Charlie runs a complex Pro style offense, much different than say Urban Liar, Brian Kelley, and some others mentioned. So there will be a learning period.
    Why not let this Jr Class finish out their Sr season with the coach that recruited them, letting them finish what they started..thats my opinion…however any of the above is mute if the team doesnt show up and beat Uconn and be game for Stanford.

  9. NDFAN401 - Nov 17, 2009 at 12:27 PM

    I DO BELIEVE THAT CHARLIE WEIS IS A GOOD COACH AND HAS SHOWN THAT HE CAN RECRUIT TOP TALENT, GETTING THE TALENT TO PAY OFF ON THE FIELD HOWEVER HAS BEEN HIS DOWNFALL. I THINK THAT ONE OF HIS PROBLEMS IS THAT HE IS FOCUSING ONLY ON THE OFFENSE AND THIS MAY BE DIVIDING THE TEAM. THE DEFENSIVE COACH HE BROUGHT IN HAS NOT HAD THE SUCCESS THAT WAS EXPECTED AND BECAUSE OF THOSE 2 THINGS NOTRE DAME HAS BECOME A LAST QUARTER, LAST MINUTE WIN TEAM, YOU CAN ONLY EXPECT JIMMY TO PULL OUT SO MANY LAST MINUTE VICTORIES. I HATE TO SAY IT BUT IT LOOKS LIKE CHARLIE WEIS IS ON HIS WAY OUT, MY FEAR IS THAT THERE DOES NOT SEEM TO BE ANYONE TO HIRE THAT WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE THE PROGRAM FORWARD AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT CHARLIE WEIS HAS DONE.

  10. eric - Nov 17, 2009 at 12:55 PM

    agreed NDFan…i dont think a head coaching change is needed as much as a defensive cordinator change is. If only he could get Romeo Crennel down there to run the D for him, woohoo..lol..Bob Stoops or Tony Dungy would be the only 2 guys i think that could get the job done, and be quality at it. Urban Liar can kiss my white Irish rear end….

  11. William - Nov 17, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    Notre Dame fans live in their own little fantasy world where
    they think that their only school playing college football.Wake
    up the echoes? WHAT A JOKE!!! If you want to watch REAL FOOTBALL
    may I suggest you watch an SEC football game. Then you’ll find
    out how football is supposed to be played. As for the idiot who
    called Urban Meyer Urban Liar. Just remember he TURNED DOWN THE
    NOTRE LAME JOB and has two soon to be three National Titles at
    THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA.

  12. StephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    Sorry, Keith Arnold, but “those same tired facts” are relevant. In fact a good argument can be made that they’re dispositive. Weis himself said 9-3 isn’t good enough. Well then what is 3-9? What’s 7-5? This year you’ll be lucky to go 7-5. You’re not going to beat Stanford. And ND said that Willingham did all the right things Sunday to Friday, but he didn’t win enough on Saturday. WHY, then, should Weis get to stay if he doesn’t do any better than Willingham (despite having more time to win, and despite having allegedly superior talent? I say allegedly because Weis went 9-3 with Willingham’s players…)?
    And Dennis, you said that no one could say the offense has been a problem. Sure they could. You don’t have a running game. Your senior O-line doesn’t pass-protect. Otherwise why does Clausen keep getting sacked in critical situations?
    Telling us you lost 4 games by 19 points, or that the Irish are in close games is not a reason to tout Weis’s coaching. In fact, it cuts the other way. Losing close games is a sign of poor coaching. Look at WHY you lose and WHO you lose to. You shouldn’t be outscored so badly in the first 3 quarters. You outscore the other team in the 4th because they go to soft defenses designed to take away the downfield throw and give up underneath routes.
    The Irish play down to the level of their competition when they play weaker teams, and they get outmatched against tough teams. Weis has NEVER beaten a team that finished with fewer than 4 losses. His record against winning teams, let alone ranked teams, is miserable.
    And as for the defense… Well, if you bring in a defensive coordinator who insists on using the style and schemes he had with his former players, when the current players are unable to execute (e.g., calling multiple unsuccessful blitzes), shouldn’t the head coach tell the defensive coordinator to call a defensive game that is suited to the current players? And shouldn’t the defensive scheme be integrated with the offensive scheme? In other words, ND has a talented QB, two talented WR’s, a senior O-line, and a pretty good RB in Allen. If you ran the ball 20 – 25 times a game, defenses would have to respect the run, and would stop going all-out to stop the pass. Tate wouldn’t get double-covered, and Clausen would have time to find him. And if the defense, recognizing what kind of offensive firepower you have, played more conservatively, then teams would be forced to try to out-score Clausen and Tate over the entire 60 minutes, rather than building a big lead on ND through 3 quarters because ND’s blitzes come up short and the ND defense cannot get the other team’s offense off the field.
    I respect the history at ND and I want something better for its loyal fans than what the AD has given them since Lou Holtz. I don’t think it does the program, the student-athletes, the student body, the alumni, or the fan base any good to keep Weis around and pretend that the losses aren’t his fault. They are. The buck stops somewhere, and that somewhere is the Head Coach’s desk. weis does NOT motivate his players to play their best for 60 minutes. Is that not part of the job description? Is it not the most important part that has to do with football (I know you will say that graduating players and keeping them out of the newspapers for alleged crimes is the most important, period…)?
    Weis has done less with more than any other ND coach. Can you argue with that?

  13. ugetwutuask4 - Nov 17, 2009 at 2:16 PM

    TO MR WILL I AM ACTUALLY (WILLIAMNOT) YOUR LAME AND SO ARE YOUR OPINIONS…1ST OFF YOUR STUPID IF YOU ACTUALLY THINK ALL ND FANS ARE THE SAME JUST LIKE I’M SURE ALL UF**** FANS ARE NOT AS F***** UP AS I THINK THEY ARE…BARELY ESCAPING WITH VICTORIES OVER AR KANSAS AND MISSISSIPPI STATE WHERE UF***** UP COACHES PAY REFS TO GIVE YA’LL PHANTOM CALLS…AND TROJAN BOY NEEDS TO STOP TYPING ARTICLES THAT SOUND LIKE A COLIN COWHERD SKIT…STANFORD PROVED WHY HE NEEDS TO LOSE HIS RIGHT’S TO HIS OWN OPINION MAKING IT SEEM AS IF HE WOULD LOVE TO SEE THE IRISH SHOVE THE BALL DOWN THEIR THROATS LIKE CARDINAL’S…SINCERELY EVEN IF WE DO LOSE TO UCONN AND STANFORD!
    FIGHTN IRISH 4 EVER

  14. Keith Arnold - Nov 17, 2009 at 2:19 PM

    @StephenOfTroy:
    You sure spend a lot of time over here for a USC fan. Can I take that as a compliment for my fancy writing? Seems you have enough to worry about with your squad that coming over here and calling for the head of a rival head coach shouldn’t be too high on your priority list.
    “9-3 isn’t good enough” was a banner hanging in the weight room to motivate the 2006 team. It wasn’t an assessment to use on every Notre Dame squad. As much as Weis has given all of us some convenient sound-bytes to crucify him with, the only people that seem to use them are the ones calling for his head.
    I’m just glad that Jack Swarbrick is taking the logical approach to this and evaluating things at the end of the season.
    Thanks for reading though. (That’s not sarcasm, either.)
    -Keith

  15. StephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 2:35 PM

    Mr. Arnold, you can interpret my being here as a compliment for your fancy writing if it makes you feel better about the Irish’s predicament. :) Seriously, though, I do appreciate and applaud your enthusiasm for your team.
    I don’t think I’m spreading myself too thin by being here. If I thought Pete Carroll needed to go (he doesn’t) or that he didn’t know what’s wrong with his squad (he does), I would spend more time writing about USC. A lot of you ND fans seem to have nothing substantive to say, so you give me some variant of “go back where you came from,’ which isn’t all that persuasive, frankly.
    I think the SI article made a good point that you didn’t reference. Charlie Weis’s best two years, by far, were his first two years. Whose recruits did he play with then? Ty Willingham’s. Why doesn’t any ND fan who waxes poetic about what a master recruiter Weis is, and what an allegedly poor recruiter Willingham was, talk about that? Did Brady Quinn commit to ND because he predicted that Weis would come aboard?
    Non-facetious question for you, Mr. Arnold: Do you REALLY think the ND athletic director is waiting until the end of the season to evaluate this coaching situation? I’d consider it the AD version of malpractice if that’s true. I would think he needs to be considering other coaching candidates NOW (whether new head coach possibilities or merely requiring Weis to change out several members of his staff). It will/may be too late by season’s end to get new talent. What if, for example, ND really does want Harbaugh, but in 10 days ESPN announces that Harbaugh re-upped with Stanford for big money? If you put feelers out to Harbaugh now, that may be enough to keep him available. Just asking.
    Oh, and for what it’s worth, I grew up passionately following two college football programs: USC and ND. I think Lou Holtz is one of the best college coaches ever (along with Pete Carroll and Bobby Bowden [in his heyday]). So I’m not sure your view of my priority list is accurate. But I appreciate the civil attention you’d pay to a nobody like me. Keep up the good writing. (That’s not sarcasm, either.)

  16. NDFAN41 - Nov 17, 2009 at 3:37 PM

    STEPHENOFTROY, LOSING CLOSE GAMES IS NOT JUST AND INDICATION OF POOR COACHING IT IS AN INDICATION OF THE PLAYERS NOT EXECUTING. THERE IS AN OLD SAYING IN FOOTBALL AT ANY LEVEL WHEN YOU LEARN HOW TO WIN CLOSE GAMES YOUR TEAM HAS TURNED THE CORNER. NOTRE DAME IS NOT LOADED WITH BIG TIME PLAYMAKERS THEREFORE HAVE NOT REACHED THIS LEVEL. BUT NOT REACHING THAT LEVEL IS ONLY PARTIALLY DUE TO COACHING AND SOME OF THAT RESTS WITH THE PLAYERS. I DO NOT THINK URBAN MEYER IS THE ANSWER EITHER HE HAS AN ENTIRE PROGRAM THAT DOES HIS RECRUITING NOT JUST THE HEAD COACH AND THE LORE OF THE SCHOOL. NOTRE DAME IS MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL, IT IS ACADEMICS, MATURITY AND BECOMING A PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF SOCIETY. IN TODAY’S WORLD MOST OF THE ATHLETES ARE LOOKING FOR AN EASIER RIDE THAN BEING AT NOTRE DAME. THERE IS A LARGE NUMBER OF PLAYERS IN THE COLLEGE RANKS NOW THAT WILL NOT SEE GRADUATION OR A DEGREE BECAUSE THEY ARE LURED TO THE NFL BY BIG MONEY, IT IS A SHAME THAT MOST OF THEM WIND UP FAILING AND HAVE NO DEGREE TO FALL BACK ON. MY COACH TOLD ME AND THE OTHER GUYS THAT I PLAYED WITH TO ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT WE WERE ONE INJURY AWAY FROM BEING AN AVERAGE CITIZEN.

  17. mrrandolph - Nov 17, 2009 at 4:33 PM

    After the last four years, the administration has to have considered a contingency plan for a new coach in case of another bad year.
    Surely, if they are going to make a change, they have known it for quite awhile.
    And, for those who think Ty Willingham is responsible for Brady Quinn arrival in South Bend and not the appeal of the tradition and draw of the Golden Dome. I encourage you to check out this article in the SI Vault on Si.com
    Extreme Makeover-Under the critical eye of Charlie Weis
    by Austin Murphy November 14, 2005
    I also heard Dwayne Jarrett (USC) say after the 2005 or 06 game that he was coming to ND and Ty promised him a scholarship if he passed his SAT. He said he passed and never received an offer. But, I also,this spring, heard Brian Kushing (USC) say he was coming to ND until Ty Willingham was fired. It goes both ways!

  18. sharkey - Nov 17, 2009 at 6:47 PM

    Stephen, your opinions really don’t matter in this forum not being an ND fan. I personaly don’t bother reading them. But welcome anyhow.

  19. Robert92 - Nov 17, 2009 at 7:27 PM

    The facts regarding CW’s lack of performance and how he compares to his immediate predecessors are well known at this point. All things being equal CW will be fired because the AD can’t afford to lose his own credibility so early in his own tenure! Keeping CW will send the wrong message that the AD is not interested in accountability or production when it comes to ND’s athletic programs! Keith, you are an eternal optimist when it comes to CW but his time has come and gone.
    Also, my dark horse candidate, Mike Shanahan.

  20. StephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 9:14 PM

    NDfan41, that’s a good point about being one injury away from being an average citizen. Well stated.
    sharkey, children should be seen and not heard. So shut up while grown-ups are talking. Are you really so juvenile that you think only ND fans’ opinions count? No wonder your mediocre school thinks the world revolves around it. “How could George Bush have won? No one I know voted for him!” Get a clue.

  21. StephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 9:18 PM

    mrrandolph: hearsay is inadmissible unless an exception applies. None does here. Cushing (not Kushing) and Jarrett didn’t go to ND. Even if you could cite a source for the claims you make, it still doesn’t amount to anything. They went to USC, and helped the Trojans beat the Irish. We’re not playing what-if’s. I know that ND fans LOVE to play what-if’s, so that must be hard for you to take. :)
    I would have been a basketball player if I was six inches taller and really good at basketball. Want to hear more about what might have been, if only X, Y, and Z were different? See how that works?

  22. Steve - Nov 17, 2009 at 9:20 PM

    Stephen of Troy has some good points. We bash him for being a USC fan but let me ask you this ND fan. Do you know about any team other ND as well as he appears to know about ND? His opinion matters more then most people here. I bet some of these so called ND fans have only watched a game or two.

  23. StephenOfTroy - Nov 17, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    Hey, Steve, you’re all right. And your mother named you well. Seriously, though, thanks for noticing that I do know a little about the Irish. I count myself as an ND fan, believe it or not. It’s just a larger concentric circle than the one I draw around my Trojans. I grew up watching the Irish and I think I know as much about them as any casual fan knows.
    I don’t only root for my alma mater. I root for any player who appears to be trying his best, I root for any team that plays together, and I want to see skilled players play well (I can’t catch a 40 yard pass with one hand even if no one is covering me, much less do so while keeping myself inbounds, so I applaud superlative skills.).
    Even if I didn’t know diddly squat, my opinion counts for as much as anyone’s. Should we only allow people to vote in elections if they prove they understand all the intricacies of the issues? Anyway, thanks for sticking up for me amidst all these rabid Domers. :)

  24. Paul P - Nov 18, 2009 at 12:36 AM

    We should let Charlie go. Even if we lose some of the top recruits next year we’ll be better in the long run. Besides, what difference does it make getting 4 and 5 star recruits if we don’t maximize their abilities?
    Don’t kid yourself, the Irish have been rated in the top 10-20 recruiting class (or better) over the past few years. At the very least we should be rated in the top 20 by the end of the past few years but we’re not! Inferior talent consistently beats us.
    I too agree that we should be running more. Charlie jumps right into the shotgun with Clausen and doesn’t allow his ground game sufficient time to wear down the opponent. Playing behind center allows for much greater flexibily. We’re getting hammered in the red zone because we haven’t established the running game.
    Bring in a younger energetic coach like Harbaugh or Brian Kelley and who can get the most out of the talent. The recruits will come.

  25. StephenOfTroy - Nov 18, 2009 at 1:38 AM

    Oh, and Mr. Arnold, telling me that the only people using Weis’s own words against him are the ones calling for his head is, well, silly. Sorry to say it.
    But it’s like telling me that “you always find things in the last place you look.” That’s because when you find it, you stop looking. The people who use Weis’s words against him are the ones paying attention to reality. The ones who ignore those words do so because they don’t want to be consistent in the application of logic to facts. They want to pretend that ND is going to contend for a national championship next year with NO running game, an inexperienced O-line, ONE decent player on defense (a freshman linebacker), and a coach who never changes, no matter the situation. Wishful thinking.
    Weis said the words. And he was right, for once. 9-3 ISN’T good enough for the vast majority of Irish fans. If Weis hung a banner in the weight room that said 9-3 isn’t good enough, how is that any less meaningful than if he’d said it to a random sideline reporter in the heat of the moment post-game? It’s a distinction without a difference. He said it, and he meant it. He even had it printed up and hung it up in quasi-public. So it cuts against your argument.
    Peeing on my leg and telling me it’s raining will not cause me to open up my umbrella, Mr. Arnold. Come on.

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