Notre Dame put Weis in this uncomfortable spot
As the spectacularly failed reigns of Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione and Nebraska's Bill Callahan reach the buyout phase, Charlie Weis sits in his office at The Gug, Notre Dame's lavish football facility at campus's edge, and tries to salvage a season that even he knows can't be rescued from the ocean floor.He's heard the boos at Notre Dame Stadium. He's had to. With each week and with each loss they arrive earlier, grow louder, last longer. It isn't any better in the blogosphere or chat rooms, where the anger, frustration and hostility toward Weis and his 10-year contract often reach toxic levels.
The Fighting Irish are 1-9, and are officially the losingest team in the 119-year history of Notre Dame football. That's where Weis is right now, facing the wrong kind of history, as well as a growing number of alums and supporters who want answers. Some of them even want a new coach.But Notre Dame isn't going to fire Weis. To do so would be almost as unfair and as unjust as firing the man Weis succeeded: Tyrone Willingham. Still, Notre Dame has only itself to blame for creating an environment in which Weis' future has become an issue only 28 games into his new contract and less than 10 months after he led the Irish to a second consecutive BCS bowl appearance. And it all started the exact moment when Notre Dame president John I. Jenkins and a handful of other influential power brokers decided to dismiss Willingham.The football sin wasn't simply the act of firing Willingham. It was the act of firing him after just three seasons and with two years remaining on his contract. And now, Weis suffers the consequences. By canning Willingham, Notre Dame ended an admirable, honorable and often sensible tradition of giving its coach a full five-year window to establish a program. There have been rare exceptions, but in the past 45 years, only Willingham's deal was terminated before the freshmen he recruited became seniors. The result is obvious. Now that Weis is suffering through a season of historic, almost subterranean football lows, Notre Dame alums and fans feel empowered by the precedent set when Willingham was dismissed. Three years is the new five years. So all that goodwill Weis created during his first two seasons and 19-6 start has vaporized. Instead, the ND alum (class of 1978) faces an embarrassed constituency. Weis says he's going to be at Notre Dame "for a long time," and he has that long-term contract to prove it. But you wouldn't know it by the boos. No, Weis isn't going anywhere, not even if the Irish finish with a first-ever 1-11 record (only two Notre Dame teams have lost as many as eight games). They have too much time and money invested in Weis. And even if they didn't, they'd keep him. So would I.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Michael ConroyCharlie Weis can't be enjoying the sound of boos coming from the Notre Dame faithful.
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