Monday, November 30, 2009

Weis’ Dismissal A Matter Of Wins & Losses

By Mark J. Zavodnyik

When Charlie Weis arrived at Notre Dame, he found a program severely lacking in talent, facilities, and direction.

The university and its fans expected the team to compete for national championships, but there was no infrastructure in place to accomplish that goal.

Under Weis, the talent level at Notre Dame has been significantly upgraded. Weis brought a cache that resonated with recruits and made the school a factor in the decision-making process of many of the country’s top players. Weis’ recruiting classes were consistently rated among the top ten by national recruiting services.

Today, the Notre Dame football program is a well-run, modern machine. The talent and facilities have been upgraded. The administration, admissions department and the football program are now on the same page and communicate effectively.

Weis was able to accomplish all of this while running a clean program that finished first in graduation success rate this year.

But in the end, it’s about wins and losses. And nobody knows this more than Weis.

Weis’ first two seasons at Notre Dame were successful. The Irish went 19-6 during that period and played in BCS games following the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Since that time, however, Weis has guided Notre Dame to paltry 16-21 record.

The numbers get worse. Weis was 1-25 against teams finishing in the top 25 of any major poll. In 2007 Weis became the first Notre Dame coach to lose to Navy since 1961. He did not once, but twice.

His 10-15 record from 2007-2008 is the worst two-year period in Notre Dame football history. And the most significant stat: Weis’ record against Southern Cal: 0-5.

After weeks of speculation, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced on Monday that Weis had been fired.

"We have great expectations for our football program, and we have not been able to meet those expectations," Swarbrick said. "As an alumnus, Charlie understands those goals and expectations better than most, and he's as disappointed as anyone that we have not achieved the desired results."

With that, a nation of fans begins to continuously refresh message boards, blogs and websites hoping that a kernel of news will spill out of the rumor mill indicating that the next Notre Dame head coach will bring inspiration to the masses. Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Bruce Springsteen.

As the next days unfold, and F5 buttons are worn down, a multitude of candidates will be whispered as the savior of Notre Dame football.

“So-and-So just bought a house in South Bend.” Or, “I just heard from my cousin that the Notre Dame plane was spotted on a runway a few miles from Gainesville.”

Whether the next coach is Stoops, Brian Kelly, or Mike Ditka, he will be expected to win quickly. The pieces are in place. Weis put them there.

At his introductory news conference in 2004, Weis said: "You are what you are, folks…and right now you're a 6-5 football team. And guess what? That's just not good enough. That's not good enough for you, and it's certainly not going to be good enough for me."

The record of 6-5 was not good enough when he arrived, and 6-6 is not good enough as he leaves.

Photos Courtesy of Notre Dame Sports Information