Tuesday Question - Should Weis Be Fired?
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Posted Nov 10, 2009

After the disastrous loss to Navy, should Charlie Weis be relieved of his duties? Is it time to find a new head coach to take the potentially loaded 2010 Irish to new heights, or should everyone calm down and wait to see how the final few games go? The CFNers crank up the debate in the latest Tuesday Question.

Tuesday Question ... Nov. 10

Should Charlie Weis be fired?

Tuesday Questions
11/3 Is Iowa for real?
10/27 Boise State or TCU in the BCS?
10/20 Is Weis on a hot seat?
10/13 Midseason Awards
10/6 The big flops
- 9/29 Who's No. 4?
- 9/22 What's next for USC?
- 9/15 The Young QB You Want
- 9/8 Are Michigan & ND back?
- 9/1 Pick the winners
Pete Fiutak

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired?

A: First of all, remember that money has nothing to do with this. Notre Dame has an endowment over around $7 billion; paying to get rid of Charlie Weis, with the potential to make even more money if a new coach can get the program to the BCS, might simply be the right business move. But the move to can Weis should only be made if the powers-that-be have a sure-thing waiting in the wings. There needs to be someone who can step into a kitchen with a full cupboard and make magic.

If Jimmy Clausen chooses to come back for his senior year, and depending on what Golden Tate decides to do, the Irish will be loaded. The veteran pieces really are there to get to the BCS and have a big season, but going forward, is Weis the one to make it happen? He build the team to this point, for good and bad, but this was supposed to be the year when it all came together, and it didn't. So the question becomes, if not Weis, then who and why?

Obviously everyone is going to want Brian Kelly of Cincinnati, and with good reason. But it's time for Notre Dame to shoot for the moon. It's time to open up the purse strings and stop goofing around, and it's time to at least see what it would take to get Urban Meyer to South Bend. Maybe see if Jon Gruden doesn't have the interest in the NFL that many believe he has. Maybe place a phone call to Barry Alvarez, the Irish defensive coordinator before he left for Wisconsin, and see if he's getting bored. The $4 million-plus that Meyer is making in Florida could be a starting point for anyone Notre Dame wants to get, but the time is now. In 2011, the rebuilding will need to be done and the job won't be nearly as attractive.

Going into 2010, Notre Dame is turn-key. Any big time coach worth his salt can have his ego massaged enough, and his bank account fattened enough, to be sold on the idea that this is a team that can rock right away. If all the key parts are back, there's no reason to not expect, actually, demand, an 11-0 start playing Purdue, Michigan, at Michigan State, Stanford, at Boston College, Pitt, Western Michigan, at Navy, Tulsa, Utah, and Army. And then comes the big matzo ball hanging out there, the regular-season ender at USC, but again, if there's Clausen, Tate, and Michael Floyd forming a nucleus of an offense, who wouldn't be drooling at the possibilities?

Give it three more weeks. If Notre Dame can go on the road and beat Pitt and Stanford, and get by Connecticut at home, it'll be 9-3 and likely Gator Bowl bound. If a 9-3 season is cause for firing a coach, then it's time to look in the mirror. But 8-4 …

Richard Cirminiello 

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired?

A: Yes, but not just because Notre Dame lost to Navy over the weekend or will fail to qualify for a BCS bowl game for a third straight year. These types of decisions are not that cut-and-dry.

You fire a coach—or demote a quarterback or can the branch manager—because you no longer have confidence in that guy to get you to where you need to be. I believe that applies to Weis, who in five years has yet to elevate this title-hungry program to where it hopes to be. This is not about retribution or payback for unfulfilled expectations. Is he the right man to guide this blue and gold vessel? If you believe so, then ride out the rough waves the way Rutgers did with Greg Schiano or Wake Forest did with Jim Grobe. If not, then the school ought to sever ties and move in another direction. I fall into the latter camp, feeling as if Weis is an excellent recruiter and developer of quarterbacks, but may never get over the hump of mediocrity.

There is a disclaimer that needs to be put forth in this discussion. If the Irish is only able to make a vertical move by changing coaches, it ought to stand pat for another year. Why go through this process if you're not going to hit a home run and make a dramatic upgrade? There are plenty of good coaches out there, who won't necessarily succeed at a place as demanding and unforgiving as Notre Dame. It's not a given that, say TCU's Gary Patterson or Boise State's Chris Petersen, could maintain their recent levels of success in South Bend. Two coaches come to mind: Cincinnati's Brian Kelly and Florida's Urban Meyer. Go find a way to get one of them, or else we could be back here again in three or four years.

Matt Zemek

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired?

No, Weis shouldn't be fired. He's made two BCS bowls, which is two more than Ty Willingham ever made. Notre Dame handed Weis an extended deal, and must now live with the consequences of its actions. Navy is an overachieving program with a tremendous coach, so the idea that losing to Navy should cause all-out panic in South Bend is, if not laughable, certainly overstated. Notre Dame football is constantly accompanied by runaway hype and hubris; if the program aspires to higher ideals of noble athletic competition, it should not be devouring coaches at an unhealthy rate. The reality of past mistakes on the part of the administration in South Bend should not allow history to repeat itself under the Golden Dome. However, what should happen is that Ken Niumatalolo deserves a long look from a program in search of a positive culture shift.

Michael Bradley

Q: Should Charlie Weis be fired?

A:  Even if it means Notre Dame has to go to the Vatican Bank to get a loan for the buyout, Charlie Weis must go. He asked for and received his fifth season during his evaluation last December, with the tacit (or maybe not so tacit) understanding that the goal of the season was a BCS bowl. Saturday's loss to Navy precludes the Irish from such lofty status – and payday – and proves that while Weis has made some progress, it isn't enough for the standards the Irish have set for him and the program. We can argue all we want about whether a private, highly-academic school in the Rust Belt should be aspiring to compete with Florida and Texas, but the ND brass believes that's possible, so any coach the school hires must work toward that goal.

Weis' greatest sin is that he simply hasn't built a defense capable of stopping anybody the Irish face. Winning shootouts might make the folks at NBC happy, but in a climate in which the better teams in the nation are starting to shut down their rivals, rather than just outscoring them, the Irish are behind. Weis is an offensive coach, and his recruiting efforts have been strong in the area of talented skill players, but he has not committed to importing the necessary speed and depth to win big. Maybe he can't get them to come to school. Maybe the academic requirements are too strenuous. Whatever the case, he isn't delivering.

And it's not like the Irish have played a brutal schedule. Of the nine teams they have faced, only three – Boston College, Navy and USC – will certainly playing in bowls. Nevada might make it. So could Michigan State, although that's not a guarantee. It's hard to think that if the Irish were playing in the SEC, Pac-10 or Big 12 that they wouldn't be struggling. They might also be in the middle of the pack in the ACC, Big East and Big Ten. When you get to put together your own schedule, play seven home games and a roadie in front of a friendly crowd, you have to do better than 6-3. Right now, Weis is teetering. He'll lose Jimmy Clausen after the season, which should set his offense back and make it even harder to outscore people. If the Irish lose to Pitt and/or Stanford, he will certainly be toppled. If the ND brass wants to play this either-or game every season, then keep him around. If not, find somebody who wants the job and can do the job. Then pay him to do it and devote the necessary resources (Read: strong-arm the admissions department) to get it done.