Will he be back? Weis doesn't know
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Charlie Weis is going about his job as Notre Dame coach as normal, saying he doesn't think a decision about his future has been made.
"Oh no, I don't think that any decision's been made because I probably would know, and I don't know," Weis said Tuesday. "With that being said, it's full speed ahead to UConn, full speed ahead to Stanford and full speed ahead to recruiting. That's exactly the way we're approaching it."
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick has said he will evaluate the program after the season. Last season Swarbrick caught up with Weis during a recruiting trip, meeting in San Jose, Calif., three days after the season ended. Swarbrick agreed to bring Weis back for a fifth season because they agreed on what steps needed to be taken to restore the program to prominence.
"The question you're ultimately asking yourself is: Is he in a position to help direct the changes in the program, to help steer it back to where he and I really want it to be?" Swarbrick said at the time.
This past summer, Swarbrick said there is a list of factors by which Weis will be measured, beyond wins, losses and graduation rates. Swarbrick said there are certain statistics he pays attention to more than others. He wouldn't disclose those statistics but used third-down conversion rates on both offense and defense as examples.
The Irish are 53rd in the nation offensively in converting on third downs and 55th defensively. Overall, the Irish rank well in most categories offensively and are below average in most areas defensively. In five seasons under Weis, the Irish have never been strong defensively, never ranking higher than 39th in total defense or 34th in rushing defense.
This season, the Irish are 83rd in total defense, giving up 391 yards a game. The only time the Irish ranked lower was in 1956, when they ranked 103rd during a 2-8 season.
The Irish (6-4) head into their game Saturday against Connecticut on a two-game losing streak that has left Weis with a 35-25 career record, a .583 winning percentage. That's the same record Bob Davie was fired with and the same winning percentage Tyrone Willingham was fired with.
Asked whether Weis should return for another season, Notre Dame junior wide receiver Golden Tate said, "Absolutely. I think he's a great coach. I'm planning on him being here awhile."
Names of possible replacements have emerged in recent days. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on Tuesday dismissed media reports he could be a candidate.
"Notre Dame has a coach, and I have a great job. People just make stuff up. I don't need to comment on that," he said. "If there's some basis to anything, I'd gladly comment on it."
Stoops denied a report that he has told "confidants" he'd be interested in coaching Notre Dame if the job opened up.
"That's some guy making something up. I'm not answering stuff like that," Stoops said after practice Monday. "There's not even a job up there at Notre Dame. That's ridiculous."
As he has the past two weeks, Weis declined to answer most big-picture questions about his five years as coach of his alma mater.
"I'm not going back and reflecting about anything right now," he said. "I think when the season's over, that's when you go back and analyze this season and go backtrack to previous years."
"I was only the story for a day, instead of two days," Weis said, laughing.
Unfortunately for Weis, though, speculation about his future has been the top story in South Bend since a 23-21 loss to Navy two weeks ago.
Weis met with team leaders on Monday, telling them he is counting on the seniors to keep the team focused.
"I said, 'I'll coach football, but when it comes time to talking to the team, I want the senior leaders of the team to be the ones expressing their voices this week,'" he said.
Information from The Associated Press, ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and ESPN's George Smith was used in this report.
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