College Football: All’s quiet on the Irish front
SOUTH BEND, Ind. ó Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis returned home Sunday from another disappointing loss, his future with the Fighting Irish in limbo.
Amid rampant speculation Weis will be fired, all was quiet around the Notre Dame football offices from morning through the late afternoon.
The team’s flight arrived in South Bend at 6 a.m. The coaches and players had the day off and university officials did not expect any news on Weis’ future to be announced.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick has said he would make a decision about whether Weis, who has six years left on his contract, will remain Notre Dame’s coach this week. So Monday could very well be a busy one around those same facilities that were sleepy and dark Sunday.
A message left on Swarbrick’s cell phone Sunday was not returned.
Notre Dame (6-6) finished its regular season with its fourth straight loss, 45-38 at Stanford on Saturday night.
Weis’ future is far from the only uncertain one these days at Notre Dame.
What happens to Weis could impact whether star quarterback Jimmy Clausen and receiver Golden Tate leave early for the NFL or stay for their senior seasons and if Notre Dame will end this season by going to a bowl game.
Weis skipped the postgame news conference following the Stanford game on Saturday night, but said last Sunday he’d have a hard time arguing if Swarbrick decided to fire him.
Swarbrick said before the game that he would begin a serious evaluation of Weis’ status after the game. Swarbrick declined to answer questions outside the Irish locker room after the game.
With the coach and athletic director not talking, it was up to the players to address the situation after the game Saturday night.
“The reason why I came here is because of coach Weis,” Clausen said. “I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for him.”
Weis has a 35-27 record in five years as Irish head coach. His .565 winning percentage is worse than the .583 marks that got his two predecessors, Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie, fired.
After going to Bowl Championship Series games his first two years, Weis has a 16-21 record since the start of the 2007 season ó the most losses ever by the Irish in a three-year span.
“I don’t know the details on the decision making,” Tate said. “I’m not in the office with those guys. I’m not sure what the logistics are. But I want to see him back. I think he’s done a great job with developing me and other players on this team.”
The players will have a say about whether the team does play in a bowl game. The team leaders are expected to meet Monday, with one of the topics being whether they want to go to a bowl game or not.
The Irish are eligible for a bowl with their six wins, but must wait for all the tie-ins to be filled and then all of the teams with a winning record to get a shot before they would have a chance to fill an open slot.
Notre Dame did play in a bowl game after firing Tyrone Willingham in 2004, losing the Insight Bowl 38-21 to Oregon State under interim coach Kent Baer.
Clausen called a bowl game a “vacation” and receiver Michael Floyd said he would do whatever it took to play another game with the seniors. Tate was less certain about what he wanted.
“I don’t know how I feel about that yet,” Tate said. “I guess it kind of depends on which bowl. I’d love to play another game with all these fellows, but who knows.”
Clausen and Tate also have decisions to make about the NFL in the coming weeks. Clausen is widely projected to be one of the first quarterbacks taken after throwing 28 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He said he will talk with Weis and with his family before deciding what to do.
Tate could have a more difficult decision since there are questions about whether he would be a first-round pick. Tate will go down as one of the most productive receivers in Notre Dame history. He broke the career record for yards receiving after his 201 on Saturday gave him 2,708 in his career.
His 15 touchdown catches this season are tied with Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzija for the most ever at Notre Dame and has 26 career TDs are one behind Samardzija’s record.
“Coach and I will talk pretty soon,” Tate said. “My family will talk and I’ll talk to different people to see what is the best thing for me to do. I hope this isn’t my last time in a Notre Dame uniform.”
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Stanford, Calif., contributed to this report.