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Charlie Weis limping into the future.


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Charlie Weis limping into the future

It's about time Notre Dame faces the fact that Charlie Weis isn't what they thought he was -- before it's too late.

They throw Charlie Weis' arrogance and pomposity back in his face, the way Notre Dame football fans threw snowballs at Notre Dame players Saturday. But Weis cannot take cover as easily as his players did.

He took over as the Irish coach four years ago preaching his own greatness, telling his players they would have a ''decided schematic advantage'' over everyone. That looks awfully silly now that Weis has failed, possibly the grandest flop in sports history.

Should he be fired? Yes, he should. But it also would be redundant, because Weis isn't even here anymore, not the Weis that Notre Dame hired and wanted.

Everything that made up Weis, his bombast, his coaching genius, even his dogged insistence on loyalty, has all been chipped away. He's already gone.

And if there is any crack left for him to slip through, it's in beating USC Saturday. Not coming close. No moral victories can allow Weis to bring back Weis.

USC is favored by four touchdowns. Can you imagine? Notre Dame four-touchdown underdogs? And when it's over, who knows what will happen to Weis, who still has seven years left on his contract.

''I can't worry about my job status,'' he said. ''I'm the head football coach, and that's what I intend to be.''

With Notre Dame, it's never clear, really, who is making the decisions. It's hard to believe that the economy would have any effect, no matter how gigantic Weis' buyout would be. Notre Dame prints money. And the decision-makers aren't about to let a little thing like millions of dollars get in the way of their football rights.

The question simply is this: Is Weis the right one?

The evidence is against him. In four years, he has not beaten one good team. He has built a roster by recruiting masterfully, and by now, beating Syracuse should be a no-brainer. Last year's team was 3-9 and this year's 6-5, heading for 6-7, but that's only because the Irish played a dumbed-down schedule.

Weis still doesn't seem to have a grasp on what a college head coach does. Remember when he didn't have players hit in preseason drills, and then tried to press an imagery reset button midseason? He gave up his play-calling duties at the start of the year, saying that a head coach must delegate, and then took them back two weeks ago.

No improvement

The team has gotten worse since then. And something strange is happening between Weis and his offensive coordinator, Mike Haywood, who is interviewing for other jobs.

But the most damning thing is that Weis' teams get worse during the season. Well-coached college teams improve.

Notre Dame is now the worst it has been all year, after blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter last week at home. On Senior Day. Against lowly Syracuse. Which had already fired its coach.

''So last year, I think we were a pretty crummy football team...'' Weis said. ''There were multiple games last year where we just didn't lose, but I felt we were basically noncompetitive as the game went on. ... There wasn't one game [this year] where you didn't have a chance to win the game.''

He described this year's team as decent. But how does a Notre Dame coach take comfort in losing close games?

Weis even said that if the Irish went from three wins to six this year, you should expect the same improvement next year.

See what I mean about Weis already being gone? To go 9-3 next year, against a historically weak schedule, would still mean losing to USC, Notre Dame's measuring stick? That would be year five for Weis and a team filled with entirely with top recruits. That's supposed to be the finished product.

Yet he doesn't mention the schematic advantage anymore.

The aura is gone

No one believes it ever existed anymore, which is a very real problem for him. And with the aura gone, Weis doesn't even look like a leader, with a bum knee, messy hair and clothes, and always some sort of white stuff on the corner of his mouth.

Now people rip him for his arrogance when really they just miss it. He used to wave those Super Bowl rings from his days as New England's offensive coordinator, and I'm surprised he didn't ask anyone to kiss his ring.

But he was hired for that. It's exactly what Notre Dame really wanted. This program was used to believing in its superiority, but it went overboard on Weis, tearing up his contract for a new 10-year deal before he had accomplished anything. Why? Because for once, Notre Dame was suffering a confidence crisis.

First, Gerry Faust failed, and then Bob Davie. George O'Leary made up his resume and Ty Willingham started to fail. Urban Meyer turned them down, by the time they settled for Weis, the higher-ups realized that Notre Dame was not heaven anymore. When NFL teams supposedly considered stealing him, they panicked with the 10-year deal.

But they wanted that arrogance. They wanted someone to say that Notre Dame is superior.

Now, the aura has blown away like a bad-smelling wind. The players don't buy in. The genius is gone.

Too early to fire Charlie Weis? It might be too late.

THE SAD STATE

OF NOTRE DAME

FOOTBALL

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The last 10 sentences of that article are all you nee to know.

ND lost it's mojo a LONG time ago, way before they annointed Charlie "Pear Bryant" Weiss the head honcho of the program.

The people in charge are more worried about keeping up the "image" of a winning program than they are about actually "having" a winning program.

It's amazing that NBC keeps paying to televise their meaningless games and the BCS tries their hardest to give them a yearly exception.

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