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The Rant

Notre Dame was right to give Weis 10-year extension

Posted: Thursday November 3, 2005 11:16AM; Updated: Thursday November 3, 2005 11:16AM
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When I first heard that Notre Dame gave Charlie Weis a 10-year contract extension, my first thought was, "Damn, that's a long time." My second was, "I guess the Irish realize they have a good thing." It never crossed my mind that the contract was foolish, outlandish or shortsighted. And I certainly didn't think that there were racial undertones to the deal.

Now there seems to be a growing number of people who have a problem with the extension. While I agree that 10 years is a long time, I can understand why Notre Dame would do it. The school has been through a couple of embarrassing situations (George O'Leary, Urban Meyer) in recent years and I'm sure it didn't want to go through something like that anytime soon.

As for other people who point out that Tyrone Willingham started 8-0 in 2002 and got canned two seasons later, while Weis has gone 5-2 and scored a windfall, I say you can't even compare the two coaches.

First let me mention a small factor: Weis is a Notre Dame alum. Willingham went to Michigan State. While this does not seem like a big deal to you or me, it is a big deal to the honchos at ND and I think this definitely played a role in Weis getting a new deal so fast.

Now the big factors.

Weis was the offensive coordinator for a team which won three Super Bowls. He ran an innovative offense and helped make Tom Brady one of the best QBs in the NFL. While Willingham did a nice job at Stanford, he didn't have the credentials that Weis did, so he had no chance landing an extension after eight games. Weis is not only winning in his first season, he's also already transformed Brady Quinn into a first-round pick. In 12 games last year, Quinn completed 191 passes for 2,586 yards, 17 TDs and 10 INTs. In just seven games this season, Quinn has completed 175 passes for 2,352 yards, 20 TDs and just four INTs. Meanwhile, the Irish are averaging 37.9 points per game, up from 24.4 last season under Willingham.

I think another big reason why the Notre Dame powers-that-be wanted to lock up Weis was because he's also done something that Willingham couldn't do during his tenure (including in that 2002 season_: Weis has made the Fighting Irish entertaining. Their games against Michigan, Michigan State and USC were all thrillers. Under Willingham, the Notre Dame offense, relying on the dink and dunk, was inept and the team was a bore to watch. Weis -- and Weis alone --has brought a buzz back to South Bend, and that may be the biggest reason why the people in charge at Notre Dame want him around for the next decade. I don't see how that's a mistake or a bad thing.

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