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Weis looks back at Notre Dame

Dec 15, 2011, 10:23 AM EDT

Clausen Weis

Charlie Weis is a man on the move, especially considering his hip — still bothering him from a sideline collision in 2008 — will be replaced before the new year. Between hitting the recruiting trail hard, which included recruiting visits from Irish quarterback Dayne Crist and South Bend native Gehrig Dieter, Weis sat down with the Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton for a compelling one-on-one interview.

Weis was incredibly candid with Hamilton, talking openly about his time in South Bend, admitting to some mistakes and looking back at what went wrong. As you’d expect, he’s confident that the second time around will be better, and his experience since Notre Dame — coordinating the Kansas City Chiefs offense as well as one season with the Florida Gators — will do him well.

With a giant poster of faces and names of his new team on the wall and a Diet Coke on his desk, Weis spent a half hour with Hamilton. Here are a couple snippets I found interesting.

Probably one of the stupidest things I ever did was that “60 Minutes” piece. It was just stupid. I did it for the right reason. I figured I’m giving Notre Dame a high profile, do a “60 Minutes” piece. And then you’re swearing at (assistant) Brian Polian and you’re doing this and that, and you look like a horse’s ass. And that’s not who you are. Because there’s no one who cares more than me. No one could care more than me.

Thousands of Irish fans are nodding as they agree with Charlie on the 60 Minutes segment. Not all publicity is good publicity, and the fact that the administration let Weis perpetuate a stereotype of its head coach on a show like that is still one of those mind-blowing decisions that can only come in a honeymoon period.

Weis also discussed the lack of chemistry in his coaching staff, a group that went through quite a few changes on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Weis has already officially named Ron Powlus his quarterbacks coach, and Rob Ianello was reportedly milling about the football offices as well. With Tim Grunhard, the former Irish lineman, Kansas City Chief Pro Bowler, and Kansas high school coach that Weis tried to bring into South Bend as a graduate assistant now running the offensive line, it’s pretty clear that any chemistry issues came from the revolving door of defensive coaches.

When it comes to chemistry and the overall dynamic of the football program, Weis makes no excuses or casts no blame elsewhere.

And there’s only one person I blame for that, and that’s me. I don’t blame the AD, I don’t blame the president, I don’t blame the alumni, I don’t blame anyone. I only blame me for that. And not because years later I’m still a stand-up guy taking the shots. The only one who could have done anything about that is me. No one else could have done anything about it. That’s I’d say one of my bigger regrets, that I never got that chemistry right. I think I was getting close. I really do. I think I was getting close, as I made some tweaks and did this and that.

Say what you want about Charlie (and I’m hoping you don’t in the comments), but he’s an incredibly candid guy, and nothing about these answers seem canned. I could pull a dozen other snippets from the story, but do yourself a favor and head over to the Tribune and read it yourself. It’s a great get by Hamilton and an interesting look at the former Irish head coach, who is hot on the trail of another former blue-chip quarterback, BYU transfer Jake Heaps, who considered the Irish and Weis before deciding to go to Provo.




  1. nudeman - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    I read this article in the Trib yesterday. Excellent.

    I have been critical of Weis here, but found him to be refreshingly candid and introspective about his time at ND. And more importantly he takes full responsibility for his lack of success there.

    Good luck Charlie. Hope he does well there.

    Anybody have a better recollection than me of the 60 Minutes piece he refers to?
    I don’t remember it at all.

    • 9irish - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      I just looked it up, you can find it. I don’t remember that.

      And I agree…just like Davie and Willingham, all great guys, good coaches, they could never just get things in the groove, for whatever reason. And when you hire people there is no way of knowing that or not.

      • runners00 - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:55 PM

        “And when you hired people there’s no way of knowing that or not.”

        I could not disagree more. When you hire people, you’re supposed to check into that. Filling a job at Notre Dame is like filling a managerial job for the Yankees. There is no room for training. It is simply the toughest job in college football. So, you have to know. And, in the last three hires, Notre Dame has done a lousy job of finding the right guy who can best blend recruiting prowess, game coaching and chemistry. Think about when they chose Davie. A guy named Urban was available and had coached at Notre Dame already. Too inexperienced for the job? There was a coach named Stoops — the right Stoops – looking for work, too.

        Same with Ty. There were several decent coaches looking for work at that time and we picked O’Leary after a short search. A few years at Georgia Tech should be enough, right? No. Wrong. Same with Willingham.

        Coach Kelly seems like an improvement. I have no idea if he’ll become a Nick Saban or Bob Stoops. He’s won a few times and that is positive. He’s won at different levels and, I think, this is a good thing, too. But winning at Notre Dame is really tough.

      • 9irish - Dec 17, 2011 at 8:41 AM

        Good points, but even that doesn’t work sometimes. Ask the Cleveland Browns about Bill Belichick. It is not an exact science.
        I have had doubts about their wisdom before hires, too.

      • nudeman - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Agree that as ND you HAVE to know. Period. However there’s some convenient revisionism here.

        Davie was poor. Should never have been hired. But Meyer wasn’t a high profile guy at that point. Probably wasn’t even at Utah yet. So a lot of teams can be criticized for passing on him. No idea where Stoops was at the time, but I don’t remember a lot of Bob Stoops chatter either.

        Ty was actually a pretty hot property, THEN. I lived in the Bay Area at the time and remember it well. When Ty was fired, I remember hearing the money they were offering stunk and that’s why Meyer went to Fl. That one ND totally screwed up.

        Although I’m still scratching my head over the QB management this year, I like Kelly, think he’s the right guy on several levels, and think he’ll do well. I think they got their guy this time. Time will tell.

    • don74 - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      If I remember, the 60 Minute segment was the one where he said his team would have a decided schematic advantage. I think the question had something to do with “offensive genius”. While my recollection is somewhat hazy I remember thinking he dissed every college coach with his comments. He also talked about “nasty players” and the Jersey mentality. For a guy in a first head coaching job it was over the top and arrogant. Admitting to it is big of him. It’s also interesting he gave Kelly a pass on the “my guys” comments. Nice to see he took the high road, a couple of years ago we would be reading a different story.

      I hope he does well and creates a tough day on the schedule for Texas, Oklahoma and OSU. It will be good for the Big 12 and better for CFB.

  2. mbutch6 - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Bottom line – Charlie is a ND fan and did his best to make ND win. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. I wish him the best at Kansas.

  3. dickasman - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Guys, the verdick is still out on BK but did we make any progress at all? I think Charlie recruited better than BK at key positions(well at least offensively, I guess). It looks like BK is going for all time record of 3 star recruits? Why are we still signing 3 star players? Shouldn’t we be fighting over 4 – 5 star recruits?

    • nudeman - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:25 PM

      Disagree on recruiting. Charlie had some nice recruits at skill positions.
      But other than T’eo, most were on the O side of the ball.

      He did a poor job defensively and on O and D lines. Clausen got absolutely creamed his 1st year; and he never recruited anyone like Lynch or Tuitt. Very little pass rush during Charlie’s years.

      As much as we love to follow the recruiting game, the star system on recruits is overrated. A lot of 5 star recruits go on to disappoint; and a lot of 3 star recruits become All Americans. I read a story on this recently and they had a list of the top 20 recruits from 7 years ago or so. You’d be amazed at how few lived up to their 5 star potential. Some got hurt; most were overrated; and about 2-3 became impact players.

      • 9irish - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        That’s what I was thinking. The best skill players in the world mean nothing if they are running for their lives and the other team is scoring 40 pts a game. It seems more balanced now.

      • johnnd1985 - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:39 PM

        Disagree that he did poorly on defense, except for the D line. But even there, Ian Williams, Ethan Johnson, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Sean Cwynar were all his. He recruited LB’s and DB’s pretty well. Even now, most of those getting playing time are Weis recruits. Really disagree with the O line analysis. Chris Stewart, Eric Olsen, Dan Wenger (started at Fla. this year), Taylor Dever, Andrew Nuss, Sam Young, Braxton Cave, Mike Golic, Trevor Robinson, Zach Martin and Chris Watt are all Weis recruits, and other than 2007, the O line has been good to excellent. All of these guys at least contributed and most played very well. 2007 was bad because of the lack of recruiting OL by Willingham. Christian Lombard, another Weis recruit (committed in 1/09) will probably start at right tackle next year. Weis’ 2 biggest problems were poor strength and conditioning and juggling D coordinators.

      • nudeman - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:17 PM

        john 1985
        You mention a lot of OL names, but really – how many of them were studs? Sam Young never became the dominant force they’d hoped for.

        You mention poor strength & conditioning focus under CW. I’ve read this many times before and it boggles my mind that in this day and age with more attention than ever paid to nutrition and training … how could he have been so laissez faire on this?

        They must have at least had a strength and condition’g coach, right? I’d love more details on this.

      • johnnd1985 - Dec 15, 2011 at 9:53 PM

        I’d call Cave, Robinson, Watt and Martin studs. Some of the others weren’t far behind and probabaly suffered from strength and conditioning that wasn’t the best. He did have and S&C coach but he wasn’t very good. To be fair, the administration didn’t allow for a training table and a nutritionist until Kelly, but Weis did push for those.

      • jomilly - Dec 17, 2011 at 10:47 AM

        Chuck had horrible defensive player development, average recruiting

    • papadec - Dec 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

      dickman – I have to agree with nudeman regarding recruiting, and disagree with you. Of the current 16 class of 2012 commits – 9 are espn four star rated, six of those 9 are espn Top 150. We are in the final 2-5 lists of several other four & five star recruits such as Gunner Kiel, & Arik Armstead. So BK & his recruiters are competing for the top HS players.

  4. alsatiannd - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Completely agree with nudeman on the recruiting star system viz. results. Just as many 5-stars bust as 3-stars flourish. The idea that a handful or “recruiting analysts” can distill from I’m guessing maybe 250,000 high school seniors, the 100 best players in the country, seems unattainable in a Don Quixote sort of way. The fact that their system is perceived as having the worth that it does has more to do with marketing than results.

    • tedlinko - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      Yea. ..kinda reminds me of the BCS actually.

  5. schuey73 - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM


    Any idea why ND is not going after Gehrig Dieter? From a pure numbers standpoint, he was one of, if not the best H.S. receiver this year. Has has good size and athleticism. Is he not an elite recruit? He played on the same team as former commit David Perkins. Maybe that has something to do with it, and he’s not interested in ND. Just curious.

    I live in South Bend, but was surprised at how “little” media attention he got for the kinds of numbers he was putting up. Local media rarely, if ever, talked about his college recruiting process. He was a big-time playmaker this year.

    • Keith Arnold - Dec 16, 2011 at 12:08 AM


      I’m not a huge connoisseur of Indiana high school football, but the numbers Dieter put up this year don’t mean all that much, as he’s doing it against some pretty uneven competition. The fact that he went to a ton of camps across the country and didn’t get offers while there, tells you he might not have the athleticism needed to be a top-flight D-I athlete.

      I don’t blame ND for not offering him. He probably isn’t the top-end athlete BK wants to bring in to play in his offense. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes somewhere (like Kansas) where he puts up great numbers. Weis has done it with big-bodied guys without elite speed.

      (Of course, the elephant in the room is that he’s a white wide receiver. I think that probably hurts him as well.)

      • schuey73 - Dec 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        Thanks Keith. I’ve been curious why nobody has snatched him up. I figured athleticism probably has played a part.

  6. dickasman - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Tell that to Urban Meyer, Mack Brown, Les Miles, Nick Saban….Consistent top 5 teams year in and year out. Those teams are just FILLED with 3 star players right?

    • nudeman - Dec 15, 2011 at 6:37 PM

      Not so fast my friend.

      I looked at just one of the teams you mentioned, ‘Bama.
      The tendency is to think a school like that gets nothing but 5 star talent.

      They currently have (11) 3 star guys verbally committed; (9) 4 star guys; and exactly (1) 5 star guy

      Obviously that will change and they’ll no doubt lock up some more 5 star players. They’re ‘Bama
      But it proves my point that 3 star guys aren’t bums and are very much in demand.

      Some will become All Americans, no doubt.

  7. dickasman - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    I’d rather take my chances with 5 star recruits not living up to their billing VS. counting/waiting on 3 star players to develop. Take your ND hats off for a minute, would ya?

  8. dickasman - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    I do understand your point about 5 star players being overhyped, etc…believe me I do BUT, truth of the matter is that it all starts with players. Go ask any coach. Great players can make good coaches GREAT.

    • nudeman - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      Anybody would rather have a team full of 5 stars vs 3. Of course.

      I’m just telling you what happens after they get to college. There are a number of factors that determine whether a guy makes it big or not, many out of the kids’ control.

      How well does the coaching staff develop players?
      Are they put in a position to succeed?
      Does the coach leave or get fired after a year or are they there with one system all 4 years? (Exhibit A: Dayne Crist who was a classic dropback QB, then a spread offense guy takes over)
      Was the HS competition they played against when they were rated 5 stars good/average/poor?

      An ND guy I remember was Sam Young, the behemoth OT from Florida who I think Weis got (maybe Ty). There was a ton of hype about him (don’t know how many stars) and frankly he never really developed into the dominant force they expected. He was, at best, “above average” if I recall.

      • 1historian - Dec 17, 2011 at 8:15 AM

        Young was a HUGE catch in both ways – Weis recruited him. But he started from day one and never had the chance to stand on the sideline and watch. I personally agree with the theory that 99% of all OL recruits should redshirt. We will of course never know but I feel that Young would have been much better off had he been redshirted. Last I heard he was in Buffalo. He was a 6th round choice of the Cowboys a few years back.

      • 1historian - Dec 17, 2011 at 8:18 AM

        Sam Young was a 5 star, the most highly rated OL of his year. As I remember it came down to either Miami or ND.

  9. jerseyshorendfan1 - Dec 15, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    No more jokes, just respect for the man. The charity work he does is amazing and he is a quality guy through and through. I totally bit on the 60 Minutes piece when it aired, loved the “Jersey attitude” especially. So it didn’t work out. What am I gonna cry about it? Forget about it. Rock on CW good luck with your hip surgery.

  10. 10of14 - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Holtz won with 3 Star recruits. The difference was that unlike today’s coaches who try to put the right athlete on the bus, Holtz was a genius at getting them to sit in different seats. Golston should be on the field as an athlete right now, not sitting to wait and play the position he was recruited for. You do NOT recruit running backs that can pass (Golston); you recruit passing QB’s that can run. Kelly needs about 24 hours of Holtz in his face if he expects to be a top ten coach.

    • ndfanwabashman - Dec 15, 2011 at 9:55 PM

      I love Lou Holtz. Probably the greatest big game coach in the history of college football. But this comment is completely misguided and wrong. Lou Holtz won a single national championship. He did it with Tony Rice. #9 was a great option quarterback, but I wouldn’t call him a “passing QB that can run.”

      Lou Holtz did not recruit “3 Star recruits.” Jerome Bettis, Rick Meier, Reggie Brooks, Todd Lyght, Lake Dawson, Chris Zorich, Aaron Taylor. These guys were HIGHLY sought after recruits which Lou had to beat out the premier programs of the day to bring to South Bend.

      Lou Holtz also would not get in Kelly’s “face.” Lou Holtz would want Skip to be the coach of Notre Dame. He’s not an athletic director. He’s a public speaker.

  11. 1historian - Dec 16, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    The best people to judge Charlie Weis are the people that he coached. When he was in town he made contact with some former players who were glad to see him, there is the kid from BC who made it back from cancer with encouragement from CW, there is Tom Brady, there are a LOT of people who speak well of him .

    And there are those who still hate him for some reason – that is their problem. He was and is a good guy, but he was NOT cut out to be HC @ Notre Dame – few are.

    If you want someone else (besides him) to blame for his failure you might start with the geniuses who hired him – AFTER their attempts to hire Urban Meyer blew up in their faces.

    • 9irish - Dec 17, 2011 at 8:47 AM

      Ugh…most people don’t know that (well, outside of here anyway). They canned Willingham specifically to get Urban Meyer…I guess they didn’t ask him about it first. Every hire has been a scramble.

    • nudeman - Dec 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM

      STOP IT

      No one “hates” Charlie. Several including me have written here that he is a good person. Period.

      He had a poor run at ND but I was very impressed in his recent interview how introspective and humble the guy was; also impressed that he didn’t take the bait on the question about “my guys”.

      He’s a good man, has a special needs kid and a family he loves.
      We all wish him well at KU.

      No one HATES him.

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