Since I spend about 90 percent of my waking hours watching HBO On Demand or cruising recruiting Web sites, it was only a matter of time before this story found its way into my inbox. According to several writers on Notre Dame’s rivals.com site, Irish Illustrated, the team has completely quit on head coach Charlie Weis. I don’t believe you can access the articles unless you are a member, but let me sum up for you what staff writers Tim Prister and Pete Sampson had to say.
Prister claims that Weis lambasted the players for about a half an hour in the visiting locker room after the Michigan game. He told the team that Sunday would not be the typical film review day and instead would be Weis’ version of boot camp. He added that it was a forgone conclusion that he had completely lost this year’s team. Prister and Sampson both also discussed the transfer of opening game starting quarterback Demetrius Jones, saying that he, in fact, had to be enrolled at Northern Illinois by September 12, but continued to practice and stay at Notre Dame until he didn’t show up for the bus to the Michigan game. He didn’t even tell Weis, no one did, despite the fact that several players were aware of the situation. The Jones transfer has far more wide reaching concerns than the departure of a backup quarterback. Sampson claims that Jones was one of the most popular players in the locker room and none of his former teammates were angry about his transfer, most supported him or understood.
Prister goes on to say that Jones didn’t transfer from Notre Dame, he abandoned a sinking ship. Keep in mind, this is a pro-Irish Web site. He also says that when he bumped in to Jones last Wednesday and asked him if he was ready for the Michigan game, Jones responded by saying, “If you thought there was drama before, there’s some drama coming up.” That obviously shows that Jones knew ahead of time he was moving on.
Prister then unloaded this gem, “Sure everyone knew the ’07 season would be a titanic struggle. What no one knew is that it would develop into a Titanic-like struggle. Weis has lost his football team, and beating the crap out of them on the practice field offers no guarantees and runs the risk of losing them permanently.” Well said.
Sampson is perhaps even more harsh. He refers to Weis has “Hurricane Hubris.” He slams him for failing to read his team and their mood all the way back to spring practice, for the erosion of simple techniques and fundamentals he credits to Weis’ arrogance. And he rips him for installing two offenses for two quarterbacks (one for Jimmy Clausen and one for Jones) rather than perfecting a basic off-tackle play.
Let’s all remember that while everyone was lauding Weis’ “transformation” of the program over the last two years, he was playing with upperclassmen who weren’t even brought in by him. While he’s done well in getting players (back to back No. 8 recruiting classes according to rivals) he has never shown that he can develop them. He’s never shown that he can read a team’s psyche, connect with them, pick them up when they’re down and keep them focused and prepared when they’re too cocky. That is the essential difference between college and the pros and it’s why guys like Pete Carroll and Mack Brown have been successful. I’m not saying Weis can’t do it, he just hasn’t shown he can so far.
Through some enterprising research, I also discovered that at a tailgate last season, the members of Notre Dame’s 1966 team were telling anyone who would listen about the complete lack of respect they had for Weis and the way he had treated former players. This week players from the 1973 National Championship team said the same thing. As former players are not allowed to attend practices or even meet the players. And most of the “insiders” close to the program feel Weis has thrown his players under the bus, despite the fact that they obviously haven’t been anywhere close to prepared for their first three games.
To cap this all off, here are some statistics for you to ponder:
-Notre Dame has started a season 0-3 only one other time in their history, that was in 2001 and then-head coach Bob Davie was fired after the season.
-The Irish have allowed 23 sacks and have yet to score an offensive touchdown in three games.
-They have lost five straight games by a combined score of 187-51.
-They currently rank dead last (120th) in the NCAA with -14 yards rushing on the season (or -4.7 per game).
-They rank 116th in passing offense, averaging 119.7 yards per game.
-They have allowed 1060 total yards this season, while gaining just 345.
-Weis is the first Notre Dame coach to lose five straight games since Hugh Devore did it in 1963, the last season the Irish lost to Navy. Oh, and Devore was fired after that season as well.