Accountability

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When meeting with the media yesterday to wrap up the upset loss to Navy, Charlie Weis spoke a lot about accountability.

“The whole theme this week is going to be about accountability,” Weis said. “Accountability and dependability, because in that game yesterday, there
are just too many opportunities squandered.”

Many people are slaughtering Weis for his statements yesterday. I’ve read at more than a few places that Weis merely “blamed his players,” and gave himself a free pass for the loss. After watching the press conference and reading the transcript, it’s tough for me to reach the same conclusion.

“What I always do with the team after the game, I always take all the
accountability, and I do that until after I’ve had time to watch the
tape and properly evaluate it. So they know before they go to the media
or they know before they go to their families and friends where I
start, because I don’t pass it on to anyone else on Saturday after a
game.

“Without being just totally condescending and demeaning, let them know
that — ‘You want to know why you lose? Here’s why you lose,’ and go
right down the list. It’s always easy because I always start with me.”

I’m having a hard time buying the argument that Weis merely passed this loss along to his players, but I can see why his comments rankle certain Irish fans. (Though many of these fans have been hellbent on getting rid of Weis since 2007, and anything barring ten minutes of apologies wouldn’t suffice.) People were looking for a quotable, a reason, an explanation, anything to help explain away another loss to Navy, and any answer Weis gave them could never be sufficient.

Coaches coach and players play. Ultimately the guys on the field have to get it done. While it’s up to the coaches to prepare the guys on the field, there’s a baffling disconnect that allows Navy’s fullbacks to kill the Irish defense and a play-action pass to go for a long touchdown when, as Weis said, the Irish’s “two biggest concerns were making sure we tackled the fullback and not giving up a play action shot.” That’s a very hard 0 for 2 to swallow.

Still, beyond anything that happens on the field (and believe me, I’ll get to that as the week goes on), as someone that started following Notre Dame as a student and a fan, it’s incredibly disheartening to read and hear the disparaging comments being thrown at the head coach after this tough loss. While I don’t agree with the people who want to see Weis fired, I’ve got no problem with people who put together a cogent case for finding a new coach to lead the football program. But judge the man for what he does on the field. Anonymous message board posters who write second and third hand tales of Weis’ mistreatment of support staff, ushers, and janitors does nothing but fuel a propaganda machine befitting partisan politics. For every person who claims they know anonymous players who hated Weis, I’ve talked to many former players on the record players that love and respect the man.

Accountability is a good theme for the week. For an embattled coaching staff, for a team that needs to look in the mirror, and for a legion of fans trying to find a convenient scapegoat for a incredibly disappointing loss.