Weis opens up for rare exclusive

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In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame athletic program granted a rare look in at the embattled coach to FanHouse writer John Walters. Walters, a Notre Dame alum himself who has lived the last four years in the South Bend community, spent Sunday morning with Weis as he broke down film of Sunday’s heart-breaking loss, a game that may have put (yet another) final nail in Weis’ coffin. 

Weis granted Walters the access in advance of Saturday’s game, and still obliged the reporter even after the double-overtime loss. As usual, Weis was open and honest with Walters, and was a man still going about his business, even as he stared down the likely end of his time as the head coach of Notre Dame.

Here are some great snippets from Walters’ exclusive:

* While many people (me included) have railed on senior safety Sergio Brown, nobody is taking the loss harder than Brown himself.

“Earlier in the evening, Sergio Brown
stood bawling in Weis’s second-floor office in the Guglielmino Athletic
Complex (a.k.a., the Gug). Brown, the senior safety whose late-hit
penalty in the second quarter provided the game’s first tidal shift in
the Huskies’ favor, feels particularly responsible. Weis was having
none of it.”

We often forget that these players are not only kids, but kids under tremendous pressure, pressing to do everything they can to save the job of a coach they love.

* The assaults on Weis have taken their toll on the man and his family.

“The damage to Maura and Charlie Jr. is irreparable,” says Weis,
referring to the personal nature of the attacks he has been subject to
for years now. “It’s watching me get hammered. I’ll never forgive the
people who character-assassinated me without even knowing me. Those
people did irreparable damage to my wife and son, and I’ll never
forgive them.”

On Saturday, Maura Weis, for the first time since her husband was hired, opted not to attend a Notre Dame home game.

“They have the right to criticize the coach for being 6-5,” says Weis.
“They have that right. It’s all the other stuff. You think I don’t know
that I’m fat? Duh!”

There is nothing I find more appalling that the ease of which people routinely shred Weis for his physical appearance. It’s one thing for trolls in the comment threads of blogs or on message boards to crack a fat joke at Weis’ expense. But even this morning on ESPN Radio, Colin Cowherd openly read emails that joked about Weis’ weight and alleged eating habits. Many mainstream members of the media have reached for the lowest hanging fruit when discussing a football coach that you would assume has supplied enough ammo just by struggling these last three seasons.

While not equally despicable, the perpetuation of myths regarding Weis’ personality and arrogance also seem to have worn on the coach and his family. While Charlie did himself no favors playing to his alma mater’s emotions when he arrived in South Bend with quotes he’s still living down, many took the opportunity to use his comments to frame him as an arrogant, obnoxious jerk. Even though five years of behavior has showed us the complete opposite, Weis has never been able to live down a reputation bestowed upon him by people ever so eager to perpetuate a myth. 

* The damage done to Weis’ body in last year’s sideline collision was more devastating than people will ever realize.

On the play, a punt in the first half, Irish defensive end John Ryan
was blocked into the legs of Weis, who was walking down the sideline
and never saw Ryan. The blow was catastrophic, causing a tear of the
ACL, MCL and PCL in Weis’s left knee.

“And that isn’t the knee
I had to have replaced,” Weis says. “One-eighth of my right knee broke
off. And I didn’t even miss the second half.”

Walters writes elegantly about Weis’ physical struggle just to get up the stairs after a day of standing on the sidelines. While people shrugged off the injury as mere media posturing, the damage down to Weis’ body from that hit were catastrophic.

I could go on and on pulling excerpts, but you’re better off just reading the article yourself.  Congrats to John Walters for a great piece — an incredible get — and for providing all of us a great look at Charlie Weis the man.