Clausen Weis

Weis looks back at Notre Dame


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.




Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame

Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.



Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.

Will Fuller brings his game-changing skills to the Texans offense

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Will Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a pass before running into the endzone for a touchdown in the second quarter in front of Avonte Maddox #14 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

In all the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft, one key tidbit linking Will Fuller to the Houston Texans never seemed to come up. The relationship between Brian Kelly and Bill O’Brien.

The two coaches share a high school alma mater, a friendship that made the due diligence on Notre Dame’s prolific playmaker easy. And it was clear that after all their research, Houston was aggressive in their pursuit of Fuller, trading up to make Notre Dame’s All-American the second receiver off the board, triggered a run at the position.

“He was a guy that we felt strongly about,” Texans general manager Rick Smith told the team’s official website. “We didn’t want to take a chance on not getting him. We were aggressive. We went and made the move.”

That move made Fuller’s decision to leave Notre Dame after three seasons a good one. While it’ll require the Irish to rebuild at a position where Fuller served as one of college football’s best home run hitters, it gives Houston a vertical threat that can extend the top of a defense for a Texans offense that was serious about finding some solutions for a team already in the playoff mix.

Yes, Fuller has work to do. Completing the easy catch is one big area. But for all the pre-draft talk about his limitations, Brian Kelly took on some of the criticism head-on when talking with the Texans’ media reporter.

“Some people have compared him to Teddy Ginn, that’s not fair. He can catch the ball vertically like nobody I’ve coached in 25 years,” Kelly said (a sentiment some hack also laid out). Teddy Ginn is a very good player, but this is a different kind of player. If you throw the ball deep, he’s going to catch the football.”

Fuller is never going to be the biggest receiver on the field. But while most of the banter on his game focused on the negative or his deep ball skills, expect Fuller to find a role not just running deep but unleashed in the screen game as well. After the Texans spent huge on quarterback Brock Osweiler and have invested in fellow Philadelphia native and 2015 third-round pick Jaelen Strong, Fuller wasn’t selected for the future but rather expected to be a day-one piece of the puzzle.

“This will change the speed on offense immediately,” Kelly said. “It was not ‘Hey, let’s wait a couple of years’. It was ‘Let’s go get this right now’ and I think Will will do that for them.”