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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

A Weis Decision ...For Now
December 4, 2008

PREVIOUS SIDELINE NEXT SIDELINE

Flabby. Ask me for an impression of Charlie Weis football right now and that's the first word I think of. It's not as if I'm any example of physical prowess, sat at a keyboard all day and swilling caffeine through the night: I know 'flabby'. But I'm not talking about the Weis waistline, which Charlie attempted to curtail with gastric bypass surgery back in 2002. It's Notre Dame football that's flabby.

Flabby schedule, flabby effort, flabby record (especially in November).

The Fighting Irish have proud traditions. For one, they're used to winning, which seemed a cast–iron guarantee when they hired Weis. But Charlie's 'decided schematic advantage' took three quarters to muster a first down against USC — about as bad as it has been at any point in Weis' reign. They weren't expected to look good against USC, but they needed to look competitive. Instead, they looked as offensively inert against the Trojans as any FCS team might have been.

Bob Davie was fired when he hit mediocrity (5–6) in his fifth year. His record: 35–25. That's 58%
Ty Willingham was fired when he hit mediocrity (6–6) his third year. His record: 21–15. That's 58%
Weis is 28–21 after four years. If his mediocre 6–6 record earns some at–large bowl, he'll be playing for 58%.

Surely that's not good enough for Notre Dame. If we want an FBS team that's academically strong but athletically so–so (at least in football), we have Stanford or Wake Forest ...and Wake Forest are 7–5. ND's reputation is for being a golden domed example of how a university can be outstanding in both. NBC aren't paying $9m a year for 6–6.

It's not as if the Irish don't have talent. When Tyrone Willingham was cut loose, part of the argument against him was that recruiting was in recession. But it was Willingham's talent that Weis enjoyed those first two years, when he went 19–4 in the regular seasons. Since then, with Weis' top ten recruiting classes replacing Willingham's, Weis has gone 9–15.

Then there's that other Notre Dame coaching tradition: motivation. If the problem is players not making an effort, that reflects on Weis as well. Motivational speeches, from 'Win one for the Gipper' to Coach Lou's pep talks, are synonymous with the job. But this hasn't looked like a motivated team. This has looked like a team going in the wrong direction. Whether they need coaxing, encouraging or plain ol' bullying, it doesn't seem to be happening.

Down the stretch, they almost blew a 27–7 lead against Navy, lost at home to a Syracuse team so bad their coach has already been fired, then had USC turn them into 35–3 roadkill. So how is it possible to justify the announcement that Weis' will be back for a fifth year? Is it just a matter of not wanting to pay whatever the bottom line is on his buy–out?

Perhaps it's precisely because Notre Dame doesn't like second–best. Between Davie and Willingham came George O'Leary, head coach for five days before resigning. Willingham was their second choice. Three years later, they thought they could land Urban Meyer as a replacement for Willingham. Meyer went to Florida instead. Weis was their second choice. Recruiting talented players might still be within Notre Dame's reach, but recruiting coaches hasn't come so easy.

Despite that intriguing three–day pause between the USC game and the official confirmation that Weis will be around in 2009, Notre Dame will plod on, hoping the football program finds a burst of energy.

At least until they're sure what kind of shape they're in.

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