A new coach for Notre Dame.
Charlie Weis did so many things right that it took us a long time to figure out it wasn’t a fit. He gave us great anecdotes to add to the legends, like the dying boy who called the opening play of his coaching career, “pass right.” And he corrected a lot of mistakes like bringing back Rudy and honoring him, while the stuffy, self righteous leaders of the college had ignored him, even though the movie about his life had done more for recruiting than any coach or athletic director had ever done. And Charlie showed ND how to get first downs again, after some pathetic offensive years.
What we liked about Charlie Weis was that he called the unexpected plays, like a general ordering his armies to attack where the enemy least expected it. When it worked it took our breath away. When it didn’t work we thought it was idiotic. There is a reason why the opponent was expecting a run, because a pass is stupid right now.
Charlie Weis exploded on the scene because he had the one thing that the team at that time was so desperately missing, namely good offensive schematics. And then he was a brilliant recruiter. But all the other things that were in place were not of his making and after they wound down he couldn’t seem to get them back again.
Reading the tea leaves of Tom Pagna’s revealing columns over the years, we can guess that Charlie didn’t know how to adequately teach college level football to high school graduates, took for granted the basics of blocking for the offensive line, didn’t reach out enough for counsel and information from his own coaches and staff and considered motivating his team to be sophomoric and unnecessary.
Charlie tore down players, cussed them out on national television. I guess he thought that it would build character. And while he obviously had no control over his own temper he professed amazement when his team on the field lost it and personal fouls cost yards. Maybe such boot camp anger works on multi-million dollar players in the NFL, who need to be shocked into reality. But maybe it doesn’t work for 19 year old kids, who are still battling acne and low self esteem.
He was terrible at the expectations game, putting enormous pressure on his teams. Typical was the prediction that Monti Te’o would have a field day against Navy. I suppose Charlie thought it would inspire the youngster. Needless to say, it didn’t. In that respect, Charlie was the anti-thesis of Lou Holtz. Lou would go into a game making it sound as if ND was playing a team out of its league, that it was an impossible, uphill task. The boys would be loose, have fun and usually won. Then Lou would brag about the magnificent upset. Charlie on the other hand went into games fearlessly, unimpressed, “we should beat them,” and only bragged on them after he got beat.
So now what? Who is the best coach for Notre Dame?
He should be someone with college coaching experience. Lee Corso made that obvious point last Saturday when he said that the odds were against Charlie from the beginning, that no one should come to Notre Dame as a first year college coach. Dan Devine, who came from the Green Bay Packers and led ND to a national championship, had coached at Missouri and Arizona State. Parseghian had coached at Northwestern. Holtz had coached at William and Mary, North Carolina State, the New York Jets, Arkansas and Minnesota before coming to Notre Dame. So yeah, a little experience is a good thing.
He should not necessarily be a Catholic. Frank Leahy, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz were Catholics, but Knute Rockne came to Notre Dame as a Lutheran, Ara Parseghian a Presbyterian.
There is speculation that Jon Gruden will get the nod. I hope not. Anyway, he signed a two year contract extension as an analyst for ESPN. Gruden has a very complicated pro style offense. Who does that remind you of?
Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech? A Baptist at Notre Dame? And he has those wonderful triple option schemes that worked so well for Navy and now for the Yellow Jackets. Problem? The black suits of Our Mother could take a Lutheran, maybe even a Presbyterian but never a Baptist. And it’s just as well. His options plays would virtually guarantee annual top ten finishes, even without five star recruits, but it would be such boring television that the school would lose its glorious NBC contract.
Most now speculate that it will be Bob Stoops of Oklahoma. He is Catholic, like most of the others on the ND fan wish list. He has been the head coach at Oklahoma. But if you talk to Oklahoma fans they are a little miffed over his last three bowl game losses. Still, the university likes someone who wants badly to come and Stoops is already campaigning for the job.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has bad mouthed Notre Dame, which ironically makes him attractive to some. And they like the last coach who came from Northwestern. He brought two national championships to South Bend.
Kirk Ferentz of Iowa would be hot. And he is Catholic, which would please the black suits.
Gary Patterson of TCU would be hotter and he is supposed to be Lutheran. Remember, the last Lutheran head coach at ND was Knute Rockne.
Some want Jim Harbaugh of Stanford. (Gee, could we get him before we play them? Maybe we could win that game. ROTFL.)
Chris Peterson of Boise State is very popular with many. His record is 45-4. Imagine? If we only lost 4 games a year we would be happy. And Peterson’s current salary is $850,000 a year. On the boards many are saying he is not Catholic, that he is in fact into Scientology. But I suspect that these posts are being planted by Bob Stoops’ mother. Anyway, if the religion is so important, they should bring back Jerry Faust, and tell all Catholics worldwide to pray. Heck, if they brought back Faust even I would pray and I am a Protestant.
And finally, there is my favorite Brian Kelly of Cincinnati who has landed his team in the top ten with only two and three star talent. It’s got to make you wonder what could he do in South Bend?
Oh sure, at Notre Dame they believe in miracles, so someone is bound to stop by the Grotto and light a candle and pray a prayer for Urban Meyer. They had him you know? He was quarterback coach for Bob Davie but got dumped. If Davie, who developed some good defensive teams, had kept Meyer on staff he might still be the Head Coach at Notre Dame.
But barring that miracle, I vote for Brian Kelly. An Irishman leading the Fighting Irish? Now that’s an idea.