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Posted: Friday November 28, 2008 11:15AM; Updated: Friday November 28, 2008 1:35PM
Tim Layden Tim Layden >
VIEWPOINT

Weis is overmatched at Notre Dame (cont.)

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And Alabama is one of those places, too. The Bear won five national titles and 82 percent of his games in a quarter-century, beginning in 1958, and rocked that houndstooth hat. The bar was set mighty high. Ray Perkins and Bill Curry worked the first seven years after Bryant was gone and won almost 70 percent of their games. But no national titles. Then Gene Stallings beat up Miami in 1992 to take down a championship (and in classic Stallings' fashion began his Sugar Bowl postgame press conference by saying, "As far as injuries...'' as if he had Vandy coming up the next week). After that 'Bama went through Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula before landing Nick Saban.

And Notre Dame is one of those places. Yeah, there's Rockne and Leahy and Parseghian and even Dan Devine, who won 76 percent of his games and a national title and still doesn't make the Legends Varsity in South Bend. Cracks started showing when the ND priests hired Gerry Faust and he went 30-26-1 in five years, but Lou Holtz dug the Irish out of that hole and won 100 games in 11 years. Since then, not so much. Bob Davie went 35-25. Ty Willingham got only three years to go 21-15. Now it's Weis, 28-21 in just under four seasons, a lower winning percentage than Davie and slightly higher than Faust and Willingham.

But take a look back at the odds. Let's say a coach is judged a failure if he is dismissed -- or leaves -- without winning a national title. At Oklahoma (since Switzer), Texas (since Royal), Alabama (since Bryant) and Notre Dame (since Holtz), the totals are two successes (Stoops and Brown), one that sure seems headed toward success (Saban) and 11 failures. Let's add USC to the mix. There, John Robinson followed John McKay and won a national title, but after that the Trojans went through Ted Tollner, Larry Smith, Robinson II and Paul Hackett before almost accidentally hiring Pete Carroll. This runs the total to: three successes, one pending and 15 failures.

It's a unique job. Keeper of the Legacy. Those who do it well possess some combination of football wizardry (Stoops); recruiting touch (Switzer, to the max); and that indefinable ability to make believers (Carroll) out of 85 athletes (many of whom are livid at lack of playing time), a vast and diverse campus and scores of alumni (some of whom will define your fate with their wallets). The guy who pulls it off is not just a coach, but also a politician and a manager and he must be able to embrace a slimy booster and cleanse the scum afterward without questioning himself.

(Timing is critical, as well. Gary Gibbs might have been a terrific football coach. Probably is. He won 65 percent of his games. But he was following Switzer, so a) the standard was insanely high and b) they weren't admitting felons.)

There is a distinct possibility that Charlie Weis is not one of these titans. Maybe ND plays USC tough and Weis gets another season and next year's schedule is soft. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Ask Willingham about patience (although given what has transpired in his career, it's hard to question Notre Dame's decision now). I have no doubt that Weis knows his X's and O's. I'm guessing he's a fair judge of talent. Bringing it all together to win games? Another matter.

There will be much applause in the mainstream media and the blogosphere when if Weis is canned, because of his condescension. You can count on that. I'm not sure Weis's attitude has anything to do with his failure to win big at Notre Dame, but it makes him an easy target. (If he were 12-0 right now, he could conduct press conferences holding stone tablets and a staff and nobody would care.)

When If Weis is gone, Notre Dame will begin another search for a savior. Considering the history, I say good luck with that.

 
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