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Former Irish players commend decision to hire Weis

Eric Retter | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The NFL branch of the Notre Dame Alumni Association has no illusions as to why Charlie Weis came to the Irish.

“He’s here to win football games,” said Mark Bavaro, a former Irish tight end who, along with Weis, won the Super Bowl as part of the 1990 New York Giants.

Weis comes to South Bend with an impressive history of being part of teams that do just that, being the proud owner of three world championship rings and leading the offensive attack for a Patriots team poised to make a run for a fourth.

Weis’ hiring ends a two-week long firestorm that began when Tyrone Willingham was dismissed on Nov. 30.

Many are glad the situation resolved itself in Weis.

“I’m pumped about [the hire],” said Marc Edwards, former Irish star and Jaguars fullback. “The circus is over. We got a big-time coach, and we didn’t have to settle. He’s a name with Notre Dame ties.”

Moving Weis from coaching on Sundays to Saturdays is expected to immediately impact the Irish on the recruiting trail.

“First of all, kids should come to Notre Dame because of the school, but, if you bring in a guy with three Super Bowl rings and who’s a proven winner, then high school kids are going to want to play for him,” Bavaro said.

Not only will Weis potentially help bring top high school student-athletes to the Irish, but he will bring with him the ability to develop the talent that is already here.

“He gives players a program to buy into,” Bavaro said.

Weis will juggle his Notre Dame and New England coaching responsibilities for the remainder of the NFL season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had nothing but good things to say about Weis and gave his offensive coordinator his blessing to come to the Irish – after the Patriots season comes to a close.

“He’s been here five years and has a lot to do with our success,” Belichick told the Associated Press. “We all at the Patriots wish him well. But at the same time, we have a lot of football left. We have a job to do.”

After years of success as an assistant coach, next year’s Irish squad will be the first college or professional team Weis has managed. However, those who have worked with him don’t expect the doubts about his lack of head coaching experience to manifest themselves any time soon.

“There’s definitely question marks,” Bavaro said. “No one’s sure [what will happen], but judging by his past record, he’s more than capable.”

Most seem convinced any head coaching deficiency Weis may have will be more than eclipsed by the ability he brings to the table.

“He has a brilliant football mind,” past Notre Dame tight end and 10-year NFL veteran Derek Brown said. “That alone is part of it. He understands the big picture.”

That mind will be charged with uniting a team and a community that has seen its share of controversy since Willingham departed.

“The only way you do that is by winning games,” Edwards said. “You have to win football games, and, if you do that, then everyone will rally behind you.”

“Winning cures everything,” Brown agreed.

Weis’ desire to make this his last coaching stop is shared by Edwards who wants to see Weis roaming the Irish sidelines for a many years.

“He signed a long-term contract,” Edwards said. “Hopefully he’ll be the face of Notre Dame football for a long time to come.”