College Football: Weis confident he’s the man at Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. ó Amid growing fan discontent, Charlie Weis insisted Notre Dame is on the right path and he is the coach to lead the Fighting Irish out of their latest rut.
“I’m confident that the program is going to go where we all want it to go. That’s as honest as I can be,” Weis said Tuesday. “Because I think we have pretty good players. When you have pretty good players, you have a chance to be pretty good.”
Notre Dame fans, though, aren’t looking for pretty good. They’re looking for national championships, something they haven’t celebrated since 1988. The Irish went 3-9 last season and despite an easier-than-usual schedule by Notre Dame standards, the Irish (5-4) are just a game above .500 and have lost three of their last four.
Weis, who as a Notre Dame student more than 30 years ago called the university president to complain about a loss, said he understands fans being upset.
“I think that I’d be perturbed, too, if I were them, to be honest with you,” he said.
Some blamed last year’s dismal record on Weis’ predecessor, Tyrone Willingham, whose last recruiting class left Weis to rely on a bevy of inexperienced players. But Weis has four recruiting classes ó three full, highly rated classes ó in place and isn’t showing as much progress as many fans expected.
Just three years ago, Irish fans were hopeful that Weis would be the next great coach at Notre Dame. After getting off to a 5-2 start, defeating three ranked opponents on the road ó No. 23 Pittsburgh, No. 3 Michigan and No. 22 Purdue ó and leading top-ranked Southern California until the closing seconds of a memorable 34-31 loss at home ó Weis was rewarded with a 10-year contract before completing the first year of his initial six-year contract.
Since then, the Irish are 1-8 against ranked teams.
Their last victory over a team that finished a season with a winning record is a 38-14 win on Oct. 28, 2006, over a Navy squad that finished with a 9-4 record. Since then, the Irish have lost 15 straight to teams that finished with winning records.
Notre Dame beat Stanford (5-5) 28-21 a month ago.
Overall, Weis’ record through 46 games is 27-19. That’s two more wins than Gerry Faust (25-20-1) had through 46 games and one fewer than Bob Davie (28-18).
Some fans are saying it’s time for the Irish to start looking for a replacement for Weis, whose contract runs through 2015.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday for athletic director Jack Swarbrick at his office.
Weis, though, said he feels the Irish are on their way.
“I’m encouraged with the personnel. I’m encouraged with the holes we’re filling on a regular basis both currently and in the future,” he said. “To me, as far as the mechanics of our staff, to me everything is starting to fall into place to me very clearly.”
There will be a change in the mechanics on Saturday against Navy (6-3). Because offensive coordinator Mike Haywood will be attending a funeral for a family member in Houston on Thursday, Weis is taking over the play calling for at least Saturday’s game.
Weis handed the play-calling duties to Haywood at the start of the season. Weis would not say if Haywood would go back to calling plays when he returns.
“I want to give him his time,” Weis said.
The change comes after the Irish lost 17-0 to Boston College on Saturday, with quarterback Jimmy Clausen throwing four interceptions.
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