Today’s Chicago Tribune has an excellent article of an interview with Notre Dame AD Kevin White in which White comes to the defense of third year head coach Charlie Weis. It is a very interesting reading and I recommend you take a look if you have the time. Here is one passage in particular that I found thought provoking:
Did you think you got more of a finished product when you hired Weis?
That would be an easy cop-out for me, to say, “I didn’t quite know what I bought, and I got something a little bit different.” I can’t say that. … The guy we hired is the guy we have. I think we knew just who was coming here.
Did we think there would be, to use your expression, a learning curve from the NFL after 15 seasons? Absolutely there would be a learning curve. But we continue to be in this thing for the long term.
And that’s OK? To be on a learning curve at Notre Dame?
We thought he was the very best person suited for this position. I don’t care who came in here. There isn’t anybody who would come in here and not have a learning curve.
We knew there would be a transitional period for him. In his first two years, I think most people were really pleased that he had made a very successful transition. And then we got into the “seam.” I don’t care who found themselves in what I characterized in our “seam”—anybody would have struggled.
His record is about the same as his predecessor’s. Why is Weis not in danger?
The moment we were managing in 2004 was singular. And you make the very best calls you can make when you’re in a process, and you’re at a particular place within a process. Now we’re in a bit of a different process, and we’re in a bit of a different moment.
Really the only thing I want to speak to in particular is the recruiting. … Charlie has been an outstanding recruiter. If you look at the freshman and sophomore classes, and the prospect of a very strong class in 2008, there’s enough—at least for me—evidence that we will move through the “seam” and come out the other side and have a pretty darn good football program.
What I find particularly interesting is that White specifically mentions recruiting as the main difference between Weis and the “predecessor.” Recruiting is indeed the biggest difference between the two and is the main reason there is some light at the end of the tunnel in this horrible season. In 2004, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. We had a terrible recruiting year in 2003 and 2004 was shaping up to be just as bad. Those recruiting efforts combined with two back to back disappointing seasons were reason to believe that 2005 would have been no different under the previous regime.
Considering Weis took us to back to back BCS bowls and is recruiting his arse off right now, there is reason to believe that 2007 will be a blip on the radar and not the norm as it appeared would be the case under Ty.