Stick a Fork in Charlie Weis

I like Charlie Weis and I even like Notre Dame, but if there is one example as to why schools/teams should not give coaches ridiculous contracts, he is the one.

Weis took over for Ty Willingham, another guy I liked, who was fired as coach of the Irish after a 6-5 2004 campaign.  Weis, then an assistant with the Patriots, jumped aboard as Head Coach of the Irish at 6 years and $2 million per year.  In his first season, Weis led the Irish to a 9-3 record and a loss in the Fiesta Bowl a pretty decent upgrade from the year before.  In 2006, the Irish went lost in the Sugar Bowl, finishing with a 10-3 record.

Before I continue, let me explain something about collegiate athletics.  The only thing you need to know about college athletics is this: It’s all about recruiting.  Weis came in and took Willingham’s recruits and made them better.  He was a Super Bowl winning NFL assistant coach, he better have.  Quarterback Brady Quinn (now of the Cleveland Browns) and wide receiver Jeff Samardzija (gave up football and now is a reliever for the Chicago Cubs) both elevated their games to new heights under Weis, after having been brought to Notre Dame by his predecessor.

Now then.  After the Sugar Bowl loss, both players departed Notre Dame for the pros.  With most of Willingham’s recruits gone, now it was time to see what Weis’ recruits could do.  According to people following this stuff, Notre Dame had top 10 recruiting classes so the Irish shouldn’t worry.  New quarterback Jimmy Clausen was the top recruit in the nation.  The kids were coming, blinded by Weis’ Super Bowl rings from his days with New England, no doubt.

In 2007, the Irish finished 3-9, the first nine loss season in program history.  This season, they’re 6-5 and bound to be 6-6 after their upcoming showdown with USC.  Improvement?  Maybe, but not much.  That would leave Weis at 28-21 in four years with Notre Dame, not far off from Willingham’s 21-16 in three seasons.  What’s the difference here?  Willingham was canned after his third season and Weis, coaching with Willingham’s kids, was rewarded halfway through his second season with a contract extension: 10 years $30-40 million.  Read it and weep, Irish fans.

This contract has effectively handcuffed any possible action by Notre Dame to remove Weis as coach.  Especially in this economy, no boosters are going to want to foot the bill to buy Weis out and pay for a new, high profile coach.  The one thing that may give the Irish leverage would be their loss to Syracuse this past Saturday.  The Orange had only two wins this season entering that game and had just fired their head coach.  Notre Dame should have skated through ‘Cuse, but were embarassed by a 24-23 loss.

It will be interesting to see what happens at Notre Dame going forward.  Weis should be fired, but are the Irish going to eat his contract?  One thing is for sure: no way this ever happens again at Notre Dame.

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One Response to “Stick a Fork in Charlie Weis”

  1. Notre Dame Needs To Fire Charlie Weis « Dreadnaught Says:

    […] That would leave Weis at 28-21 in four years with Notre Dame, not far off from Willingham’s 21-16 in three seasons. […]

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