Column: Back off and let’s see if Weis can finish the job

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, November 12, 2008

By Staff
Get off Charlie Weis' back.
For the past three days, all I have heard on sports talk radio or television is how the Notre Dame coach is on the hot seat and everyone is throwing in their two cents are to how long he will last?
Weis has about seven and a half years left on his current contract, so he's not going anywhere soon.
Even if the Fighting Irish fail to win any of their final three games and miss playing in a bowl game again this season, Weis will still be the head coach next August when Notre Dame begins fall practice for the 2009 season.
What did Irish fans think was going to happen this season?
Did they really believe that Weis was going to turn a 3-9 squad into a Bowl Championship Series caliber team?
Time for a reality check!
Notre Dame has improved from last season. The Fighting Irish had an offense that was ranked something like 119th in the nation. The Irish are around 50th this year.
That makes them the most improved offense in the NCAA.
Are they a great football team? Of course they are not.
Will they continue to get better? Sure they will.
But just how good will Notre Dame be under Weis, who admittedly is still learning how to be a head coach?
An even better question, is how patient will the Fighting Irish faithful be when it comes to waiting for the team to return to the top of the college football mountain?
My guess is not long.
Just take a look at what the previous two coaches did before being replaced.
Bob Davie won 35 games at Notre Dame in five years, but that wasn't good enough. Tyrone Willingham won 21 games in three seasons and we all now how that turned out.
Weis is 27-19 in his three-plus seasons at the helm. His record is comparable to the previous two coaches, so do we hold him to the same standards?
Notre Dame is not an easy place to coach.
The Fighting Irish don't play in a conference, so the only thing there is to play for is a national championship.
The days of dynasties in college football are over. There is too much parity, so don't expect teams to run off four or five championships in a short span.
That means that when you are an independent like Notre Dame, anything short of a national title or a New Year's Day bowl game is considered an unsuccessful season.
Is that realistic? Of course it's not. But that's the way it is.
I have heard rumblings that there is a movement afoot to buy out his contract.
If that is true, he could suffer the same fate that awaited Davie and Willingham. After all, alumni money fuels the University of Notre Dame.
If that money starts to dry up, the alums have a pretty powerful voice, whether they deserve to have one or not.
Should Weis eventually leave of his own will or be forced out, two things will probably at the top of the list when it comes to his undoing.
His record against college football's elite is not good. Heck, let's face it, over the past couple of years his record against teams with winning records is not very good.
The other reason would be his own personality.
Weis is a polarizing figure. You either love the man or hate him.
People with that type of personality seem to have a shorter shelf life in athletics.
So like him or not, Weis will be at Notre Dame for a while. He continues to draw in top talent and that should help the Fighting Irish improve as a program.
The climb back to the top of the mountain will be a slow, sometimes painful one. It's not going to happen over night.
For Weis' sake, it better happen pretty quickly or Notre Dame could be looking for its fourth head coach in little over a decade.