Weis not waving flag before Irish-Spartans game

Updated: September 20, 2006, 1:24 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Charlie Weis doesn't want to talk about the missing megaphone, Michigan State players sticking their flag into the field at Notre Dame Stadium or some vow he allegedly made to someone about never losing again to the Spartans.

(L-R) Devin Pritchett (63) Nick Smith (93), Terry Love (18) and Eric Smith (36)
AP Photo/Joe RaymondDevin Pritchett, left, Nick Smith, Terry Love and Eric Smith celebrated at Notre Dame last season.

And he definitely doesn't want to mention any more the blowout loss to Michigan last Saturday.

"I'm not talking about any of that stuff," he said.

At least not publicly. Behind closed doors, however, it's likely the players will be hearing from Weis about those issues as they prepare for Saturday night's visit to Michigan State.

Weis has repeatedly said he watches the media for bulletin board material to motivate players. He looks for little statements, little signs to get under a player's skin to get them going. He won't have to do much searching this week.

The video of linebacker Kaleb Thornhill and other Spartans running to midfield carrying the flag and plunging it into the turf after Michigan State beat Notre Dame 44-41 in overtime a year ago already has been shown repeatedly on TV. Irish players were irate when it happened.

"It's something that makes a lot of people upset, to say the least, with the fact that's how they deal with a win like that," Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn said after the game.

Asked following the loss to Michigan if the Spartans' celebration last year was still on his team's mind, Quinn replied: "I guess I'd be lying if I told you no."

On Tuesday, Weis said he wouldn't make an issue of it, forgetting that after the Michigan game he said he would. He was asked if Notre Dame's struggles with the Spartans, losing seven times in nine years -- and five straight in South Bend -- was motivation enough.

"There's one incident in particular that I'll use as motivation," he said.

Spartan prospects
 Michigan State
A Michigan State win against Notre Dame (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) on Saturday would elevate the Spartans to 4-0 before their Big Ten Conference opener next week but it wouldn't narrow the gap with Michigan.

• To read more of Bruce Hooley's preview of the game, click here.

ESPN analyst Jim Donnan, meanwhile, sees flaws in the Notre Dame defense that could lead to a high scoring game.

• To read more of Donnan's take in What to Watch, click here.

Michigan State coach John L. Smith said the media were making too much of it.

"It didn't mean anything," he said.

But Michigan State defensive lineman Clifton Ryan disagreed.

"If a team did that here at Spartan Stadium, I'd be pretty upset. They have every right to use that as motivation," he said.

Ryan said younger players did it and were reprimanded by Smith.

"I guarantee you they won't do it again because they got a serious tongue-lashing from Coach Smith," he said.

Smith said the bigger question last season was: Why didn't Notre Dame have the Megaphone, a rivalry trophy for the two schools, at the stadium?

"They didn't plan on losing it, so they didn't bring it. So we just had to wait for it," Smith said.

John Heisler, senior associate athletic director at Notre Dame, said that except for a trophy with Stanford, Notre Dame has never presented a rivalry trophy after a win. He said it's usually shipped the next week.

If those two issues weren't motivation enough for the teams, someone asked Smith on Monday if he had heard that Weis reportedly told an alumni group that the Irish would never lose to Michigan State again while Weis was coach.

"Yeah, I heard that," Smith said. "It motivates us as coaches. The kids probably could care less what Charlie's saying. I had heard that."

Asked Tuesday if he had said it during the offseason, Weis said the only person he talks to during the summer is his wife. Asked again if it were true, Weis said: "I'm not going there. I'm really not going there."

Weis said he planned to tell his players not to talk this week about either Michigan or the Spartans sticking the flag into the field. The Spartans were talking about Weis' reported comments, though.

"That's a pretty bold statement to make that you're never going to lose to a team that's beaten you seven out of the last nine times," Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton said. "But we'll see what happens."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press