Yesterday, as we all know by now, news that Charlie Weis would be staying on as Notre Dame's head coach broke to the media. Most people would probably argue that it's a surprise that Weis was retained, and that's fair -- Weis' last two seasons, and his position at the nexus of college football coaching pressure, have put him on the hottest of hot seats.
Still, he survived. And people are not happy about it. Among them is NBC Chicago's own Kevin Kehoe, who was a bit, ahem ... strident in his post about Weis today. The first sentence:
The decision to keep Charlie Weis for another season is the death blow to arguably the most storied program in the history of college football.
And, off we go:
Notre Dame missed a "golden" opportunity to correct another hiring blunder. [...] Now I'll admit that I bought into the Charlie Weis hype like everyone else, but my eyes are open now and I can see the light. He's nothing more than an offensive coordinator at best who was a genius because he knew what the defense was calling on just about every play.
They won't win more than 8-9 games a year with Weis as coach. That's not enough to win a national championship, and that is the point of all this, right?
As you can see, Kevin does not like Charlie Weis very much. (For the record, his point about Mike Leach is well-taken; despite his success this year, Leach is still an underrated coach in some corners.) But if we could urge Notre Dame folks to do one thing, and one thing only, it would be this: Take a deep breath.
Retaining Charlie Weis isn't the most brilliant strategic move in the world, sure. He probably deserved to be fired, or at least deserved to get the sort of public scrutiny he earned himself this year. By all accounts, Weis doesn't help his standing in South Bend by being personable, or nice; he's a huge jerk, and in college football you can't be a huge jerk unless you're winning a lot of games. Charlie Weis is a man with a very short leash, as it should be.
Firing him, though, would have cost Notre Dame a whole lot of money. Like, a ton. Anywhere between $4 million and $10 million. Weis' contract grants him an enormous amount of financial stability, and even if the entire university wants him gone, they're going to have to pay up. Which do they want more? Millions and millions? Or a new football coach? They approved Weis' extension after seven games, and now they have to live with it.
Second: Be fair here. Four years is not exactly a long time for a coach to establish a football program. Seeing only one class of freshman make it through to their senior years -- is that really enough time to change any big-time college team? In some cases, yes. Some, no. In Weis', who knows? Maybe his fifth year, and not his third, is the charm.
And third: There's no need for hyperventilation. This isn't a "death blow" to Notre Dame as a big program. Students will still study under Touchdown Jesus tomorrow. The Dome will still gleam gold. When Morrissey Manor dorm hall students walk out to go to class tomorrow morning, they won't be greated by a fiery, Fallout 3-esque hellscape. Notre Dame will always be a big, important, rich football program, and no amount of Weis-induced decline will change that.
So take it easy, domers. You guys get yourselves too worked up. If Weis doesn't cut it next year, he'll be gone, and you can buy into the the next coach's hype accordingly. In the meantime, your basketball team is awesome and your degrees are still respected enough that you can get a job in this economy. Charlie Weis is just a monster under your bed -- he can't hurt you. Not unless you let him.