Your Commander recognizes that he is walking on very thin ice in writing this essay. A number of my readers are Notre Dame alumni or worked for the university, and thus they see this issue through very colored glasses. Let it be known that I am not an alum of Notre Dame, but I fully understand the impact the university has to the Northern Indiana economic vitality.
For the past few months the newspapers, radio, television, sports publications, and individuals have had specific conversations on one subject only.…Will Charlie Weis come back as the Head Coach at Notre Dame? Considering the win/loss record of the Weis led football team the hullabaloo is understandable.
Currently our country is going through one of the most horrific economic downturns since the Great Depression of the early 1930’s. We are still fighting a War in Iraq, combating worldwide terrorism, experiencing record setting home foreclosures, a national healthcare crisis, the potential collapse of the American automobile industry, continued problems with our banking institutions, a new President is organizing his administration, and many very serious significant issues confront our democracy. I ask you just how important is it really if Charlie Weis continues as the Coach at Notre Dame?
The South Bend Tribune has carried a Page One story everyday for the past week addressing the speculation, and finally, the announcement that Charlie will be retained. News about very important national and international issues is buried on Page Three or even further back in its ever thinning daily editions. The Sports section has been dominated by at least two well written critical analyses daily, and none of them have been flattering to the Weis debate. The dominance of the Weis question flooded the USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. No one seemed to be in Charlie’s corner.
Clearly, the University has once again mishandled a public relations nightmare, and the remarks of new Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, have been weak and evasive at best. His failure to handle the issue adroitly has sadly permitted the question of race to enter the dialog comparing the treatment of ex-Coach Willingham to Weis. The debate is bound to grow as Notre Dame and Coach Weis enter into a 2009 football season with another somewhat weak twelve game schedule starting with Nevada, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Washington, USC, Boston College, Washington State, Navy, Pittsburg, Connecticut, and Stanford.
Unless there are some big changes I can see another losing season, and the Weis debate will return and only become more intense. Maybe one more year will give the University administration time to hit up some deep pocketed alum for the speculated $20 million necessary to buy out Charlie’s contract. Someone within the administration should be required to answer the question…Why did they renew Charlie’s contract for ten years, if Charlie was so dedicated to his alma mater?
The whole issue is ruled by greed. The Weis question will be quickly addressed and settled if the University starts to see or experience the erosion of their hugely profitable football revenue stream. Charlie surely should have learned a lesson that his huff and puff approach does not work in Hoosier land, and it is time to hold his players and coaches accountable and responsible for delivering results. I believe it is time to take starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen out to the woodshed for a good talk about humility or assign him a seat on the bench. If Charlie Weis thought he had heat about being the Head Coach in 2008, next year will be even more demanding because the fans will be throwing more than snowballs in 2009.
Now look at what I am doing. I am just as guilty as the people I am critizing when I give any time and consideration to the Charlie Weis question. What is really important? It would be interesting to know just what the founding Fathers of Notre Dame, like Father Sorin, would have to say on this topic. I sure don’t think Charlie’s future employment is really important in the big picture scheme of things. Do you?