"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." -- Charlie Weis, five years ago, upon being hired as the new Head Football Coach at Notre Dame
"If they decide to make a change, I'd have to say I'd have a tough time arguing with that. If they decide to make a change, I'd have a tough time arguing that because 6-5 is not good enough, especially when you've lost five games by a touchdown or less and several three-point games that went right down to the wire. My intent is to be here. But if that were the rationale, I mean it would be tough for me to argue with that point." -- Charlie Weis on Sunday, after an overtime loss to UConn dropped the Irish to 6 - 5.
NBC, sensing (and adding to) the writing on the wall, ran the clip from Weis's introductory press conference toward the end of the UConn debacle. It was a nice move on NBC's part, hoisting Weis on his own petard, as it were.
That's at the core of the whole Weis problem: his Parcells/Belichick - bred arrogance cast him as a make-or-break proposition. And Weis broke. Now, it's time for him to go. What's more, Weis needs to be the one to resign. He can't wait for Swarbrick to fire him. He needs to announce his resignation effective at the end of the season, and he needs to do it before the Stanford game. It's the only way to put any kind of positive spin on his lackluster tenure at his alma mater.
Under different circumstances, he might have one more year. He has great people going into their senior years at his offensive skill positions, including the nation's best quarterback (Jimmy Clausen), one of the best all-purpose ballhandlers in the nation (receiver/returner/wildcat back Golden Tate), and a very solid running back (Armando Allen). They also have potentially the best tight end in the nation (a freaky talented Kyle Rudolph), and one of the best new-school wide receivers (Michael Floyd). The O-line is a bit more problematic, but there seems to be enough underclassmen in rotation to get the job done as well as it was this year (frankly, the O-line was good this year, but they should have been dominant). And the defense? Well, the defense sucks anyway, so you have to figure that they can assemble something better, no matter what they have to start with. If there can be an arguement made for retaining Weis, there is no reason that co-Defensive Coordinators Corwin Brown and John Tenuta get one more year in South Bend.
I know that, last year, I said Weis should have only one more year. However, if I'm the AD, I'm looking at a team which should have been a top-ten team that is returning some absolutely ridiculous talent. A new head coach virtually assures that a senior-heavy lineup will be wasted, even if they actually hung around . . . and if my name is Clausen, Tate, Floyd, or Rudolph, I'm gone. So that, at least, is an argument for retaining Weis.
On the other hand, there is the dick-swinging that Weis has done since day one. That introductory press conference pretty much seals his fate. Sure, 6 - 5 sucks, but maybe you get forgiven for 6 -5 if you don't set that as the mountain you die on.
So Swarbrick is essentially in an untenable position. The best option for next year is to keep Weis, since that represents the best possible outcome for the next season. And the payoff could be substantial: the talent is top ten, even if the coaching hasn't been even close to that level. On top of that, a coaching change virtually guarantees another mediocre season. But it was Weis himself who set the bar, and he has failed. Swarbrick will be hung out to dry if he dares retain Weis. He has to fire Weis. He has no choice.
This whole thing goes back to the firing of Ty Willingham. If that fiasco had been handled properly, then Swarbrick would have room to operate. But, Willingham was fired prematurely, so there is a heightened situation for Swarbrick and Weis to deal with. And, of course, Weis himself added to the problem with his aforementioned dick-swinging. It is completely fair to point out that Weis's .573 winning percentage is worse than Willingham's (and Davie's) .583. And given Weis's arrogance, he has to be held accountable.
There are a lot of things that Weis has done right at Notre Dame, and they are important things: Notre Dame's graduation rate is even better now than the high standards set previously. His recruiting classes have been the best Notre Dame has seen since the '80's, and he hasn't had the same "character questions" that floated around the Holtz teams. The Weis teams have all represented Notre Dame in the best possible manner off the field.
And yet, that isn't enough. Why? Because of the arrogance of Weis himself. The only way this will end acceptably is if Weis announces his resignation this week.