Credit Matt Hayes of The Sporting News for getting to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. Hayes was able to get a rare comment out of the man sharing the spotlight under the Golden Dome with besieged head coach Charlie Weis.
When Hayes asked Swarbrick if economics would play a factor into the decision to retain or fire Weis, Swarbrick responded with a firm, “No.”
Hayes also put the much speculated buyout of Weis’ contract at $18 million for the six years remaining. He also said the university is on the hook for another $1 million for contract guarantees to Weis’ assistant coaches.
Swarbrick also addressed Weis’ status, and said that any decision won’t be made until after the season.
“I evaluate programs at the end of the season,” Swarbrick said. “I don’t evaluate coaches, I evaluate programs.”
That’s a very interesting comment from Swarbrick. If you had to make a distinction, I’d say that Weis the coach is having a worse season than Weis the head of Notre Dame’s football program, and it makes me feel better that Swarbrick will be evaluating everything — the change in recruiting, the transition to a new scheme, the timing of the decision — before deciding on Charlie Weis’ fate.
Either way, as expected, Weis’ contract won’t have anything to do with the school’s decision on the head coach. What also won’t play a factor are past coaching decisions — the choice to fire Bob Davie after five seasons and Tyrone Willingham after three. What’s happened in the past has nothing to do with the current decision to fire or retain Weis. For those who enjoy making tidy comparisons to records or winning percentages, the decision is hardly as cut and dry as Ws and Ls. Swarbrick wasn’t at the helm for either of those decisions and I hope he doesn’t let the past dictate what should happen in the future.