Does Charlie Weis Really Need A BCS Bowl?
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Posted May 18, 2009

What happens if Notre Dame doesn't get to the BCS? Will Charlie Weis be fired? If not, what does the record need to be for him to stay around? In our new feature, the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion, we discuss what it'll take for the Irish head man to stick around.

CFN Daily Roundtables

May 18

No BCS, No Weis?

- 2009 CFN Notre Dame Preview

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Pete Fiutak, CFN     

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired if Notre Dame doesn't get in the BCS? If not, what does the record need to be for him to get cut?

A: It depends on how the season plays out, of course.

No, I don't believe it should be as cut-and-dry as the BCS-or-bust edict, but I do think the Irish need to come close after what happened over the last two years. This is Chuck's team now, and there are no excuses. The schedule isn't that bad, the young players who stumbled through the growing pains of 2007 are all grown up and mature, or at least they're supposed to be, and there's enough depth to get by even if injuries strike. However, again, I'm not going to say that Weis should be automatically canned if he doesn't get the Irish to the BCS.

9-3 should be enough to keep him around, mainly because it's just not fair to be within a bowl game of a ten-win campaign and have the season be considered a failure. 8-4 might be pushing it unless there's an excusable story behind it (like a Bush Push-like loss to USC, a loss to a Michigan State team that's BCS worthy, a slip against Boston College and a hard-fought loss to Pitt). 7-5 means it's time to move on.

While Notre Dame shouldn't have to go to the BCS to avoid a regime change, there can't be any losses like last year's gack against Syracuse and there can't be an embarrassment to the franchise like there was last year against USC. The Irish have to at least look the part, because just getting to a BCS game isn't enough if everyone's kidding themselves.

It doesn't do anyone any good if there's a repeat of the 2005 and 2006 seasons with nice, fluffy records with no foundation set for the future. There can be losses, but they have to be good losses while the wins can't come just because the Irish sucked a little less than the opponent. It'll be important to take a critical eye to the wins and question whether or not Notre Dame is good, or if Weis and his staff are finding ways to win. There's a big difference, because as Irish fans know all too well from recent history, it's impossible to get all the same breaks two years in a row.

With all that said, here's my bold, it's mid-May-and-I'll-wuss-out-and-change-it-later call. Notre Dame will lose the opener to Nevada, who'll run amok, and it'll lose at Michigan for an 0-2 start leading to the Weis Needs To Be Fired onslaught of stories. And then will come a stunner of a win over a great Michigan State team. And then will come a win over Purdue, a win over Washington, and a great battle with a near-miss loss to USC that brings respect to the program that's been missing for the last three years. The Irish will run the table from there, finish 9-3, will win convincingly in the Gator Bowl, and will be the hot story going into 2010. Either that or the Irish will be a mediocre 8-4, lose the bowl game, and the alumni will throw a $10 million-per-year figure on the table to lure Urban Meyer to the job he really wants.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired if Notre Dame doesn't get in the BCS? If not, what does the record need to be for him to get cut?

A: Normally, I’m no fan of the ultimatum when it comes to coaches. If you’ve got the right guy, you know it, and drawing a line in the sand isn’t good for the coach, the players, or the program. However, I have never been convinced that Charlie Weis is the right guy in South Bend. Let’s face the facts—had the right coach been available last December, we wouldn’t be having this discussion today. No school in America, save for maybe USC, has a smoother path to a BCS bowl game than Notre Dame. And if the Irish don’t earn one of the 10 bids in 2009, with a favorable schedule, that’d mean Weis would have gone five seasons without a BCS bowl victory, and in all likelihood, three straight without finishing ranked. Five years is long enough to understand the ability of a coach. No more cries about inheriting sub par talent from Tyrone Willingham. No more waiting for Weis’ results to catch up to his image of himself. You can deal with the arrogance of coach, sort of, if he’s delivering Urban Meyer-like results. In the case of Weis, another January at home should be grounds for dismissal.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired if Notre Dame doesn't get in the BCS? If not, what does the record need to be for him to get cut?

A: No, Weis shouldn't be fired. Notre Dame is suffering from characteristic hubris, so even though Weis is and has been hubristic in his own right, that doesn't mean he should receive a pink slip if the Irish fail to make a BCS bowl.
Besides, the Irish could go 10-2 and receive a BCS bid they wouldn't deserve anyway (a situation witnessed in each of Weis's first two seasons in South Bend), so it's not as though Notre Dame would prove itself by reaching a premium postseason game. Winning the BCS bowl would change minds; anything less, and the jury would still be out.
It's also worth noting that the Irish won't be playing world-beaters in 2009, so even if Weis pulled 11-1 out of the hat, there would only be so much mileage the program could gain from such a feat. Michigan isn't back to being Michigan, Pittsburgh will be without LeSean McCoy, and Boston College will have a new head coach. In the end, Notre Dame's final record shouldn't be the ultimate measuring stick (even though it represents the bottom line in a cutthroat business). Substantial improvement and reduced drama are the key goals for Fighting Irish football this upcoming season.

Kevin Carden, Publisher,

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired if Notre Dame doesn't get in the BCS? If not, what does the record need to be for him to get cut?

A: In all honesty, it’s surprising to me that Charlie Weis still has a job after going 10-15 the past two seasons at Notre Dame, but he has been saved in large part because of the huge contract extension that he received after just seven games on the job.

Under normal circumstances Weis would have been fired after Notre Dame’s 7-6 season in 2008, in which they lost four of the last five regular season games, including a home defeat against a nine-loss Syracuse team and a 38-3 blowout loss to rival USC, not to mention the 2007 season that set a school-record with nine losses.

The real problem hasn’t just been the number of losses but the manner in which they have lost. The 2007 squad didn’t show any real progress as they stumbled through a 3-9 season. Losing for the first time in 44 years to Navy, followed by a 41-24 loss to Air Force, both at home, doesn’t help when making the case for support from the fans and athletic department.

With that said, now that Weis has survived the disastrous past two years he is in a pretty good position to have success going forward thanks to some talented skill players and a very favorable schedule in 2009.

Eight wins or more will save Weis’ job, but more importantly, I think he has to start showing that he can develop young talent. He has brought in some highly rated recruiting classes (#5 in 2006, #11 in 2007, #2 in 2008 by but hasn’t done much with the talent that he has collected.

I think an eight or nine win season is a real possibility for Notre Dame in 2009 and making it to a BCS bowl would be icing on the cake. If the Irish have that kind of success then they will be back on track and have reason to be optimistic going forward.

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired if Notre Dame doesn't get in the BCS? If not, what does the record need to be for him to get cut?

A: First, let me say that I think it's absurd for most any coach to get fired just because he didn't make it to enough BCS bowl games, unless he coaches at a few select schools. Those schools have either earned such a grading curve through continued on field success, OR they just want to hold onto past glory days so tightly that they judge themselves in a way the rest of the country thinks is insane.    Notre Dame fits into both of those groups; their recruiting results are still on par with the blue chip programs, but the lack dominance on the field  puts them into the latter category. 

Strike up the Bruce Springsteen; 'Glory Days, yeah they'll pass you by.'  The only folks that aren't aware the parade has gone by and isn't just taking a break to restock the pixie sticks reside in South Bend.  If Notre Dame is anything less than 9-3 with this year's Charmin-soft schedule, then Weiss is in deep trouble.  That's especially true if the Irish brass chooses to judge Weiss the way they judged Tyrone Willingham.  However, they will win at least nine games, because this might be their weakest schedule since World War II.