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Players respond positively to Weis hire

Joe Hettler | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Brady Quinn looked like a kid on Christmas morning Monday.

The Irish signal-caller was all smiles a few moments after Notre Dame named New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis its 28th football head coach at a morning press conference.

“Everybody is real excited,” Quinn said. “We didn’t get to meet as a team and talk about it, but you can tell there’s a lot of excitement and happiness that, one, the whole search is over – we know where we are – and secondly [about] the person we have.”

After personally meeting with Weis around 9 p.m. Sunday evening, it didn’t take Quinn long to form an opinion of his new coach.

“Maybe five minutes,” Quinn said, still grinning, “because he got right down to it. He started talking about himself and what he’s all about and right then he had my attention. I’m just happy he’s here.”

Although the entire team didn’t speak with Weis before he was hired, many players had already met the 1978 Notre Dame graduate. Weis spoke to the Irish during winter workouts last year, and Tuck remembers the speech as anything but typical.

“Honestly, he was the first guest speaker that wasn’t hip hip hooray Notre Dame,” Irish defensive end Justin Tuck said. “He was more of a critical guest speaker. That was kind of surprising. He was the first speaker to come in and really get on us about things.

“We were like ‘You’re the guest speaker, you’re supposed to come and say how great Notre Dame is and blah blah blah.’ It was a different twist. That was our first impression of him.”

Tuck said Weis may even have insulted some of the players during his speech.

“I think some took a little offense to it,” Tuck said. “But then they sat down thought about it and he was right.”

Irish tight end Anthony Fasano believes Weis will help Notre Dame have a different attitude on and off the field.

“I think [an attitude change was needed]. Going 6-5, you have to change something,” Fasano said. “I think that’s a big part of football, and I think he’s going to bring it to our team.”

Tuck said he liked what Weis said in the press conference, specifically when the new coach referred to Notre Dame as being “a nasty” team under his leadership.

“When he said that, I actually started laughing because I’ve never heard someone at a press conference say ‘nasty,'” Tuck said. “But that’s a good thing because football is a nasty game, and you want that attitude coming from the top person and filtering down to the team.”

Perhaps the biggest benefactor of the Weis hiring is the Irish offense, specifically Quinn. Weis has developed New England’s former sixth-round pick, Tom Brady, into a two-time Super Bowl MVP, while leading the Patriots to wins in two of the last three Super Bowls.

“I’m pumped up,” Quinn said. “Honestly, going to the press conference, hearing him talk and watching the [New England] game [Sunday], it only brings excitement to me, and I just can’t wait to get out there and get my head in the playbook.”

As for Tuck, Notre Dame’s all-time sack leader has one year remaining of eligibility remaining, and he said he’s still waiting to decide whether to go into the NFL or stay in South Bend.

“That’s going through my head right now,” Tuck said. “From the little I know about [Weis] and listening to him at the press conference, he seems like … somebody you can really like as a head coach.”

Quinn said one of the most important criterions that Weis will bring Notre Dame’s football program is confidence. With so many accolades to his name, no one doubts Weis’ ability to help a team find success.

“It impresses me. It gives me a sense of confidence in him because he knows what it takes to get there,” Quinn said. “He’s coaching guys, he’s had success and he’s winning Super Bowl[s]. It’s only going to help us, to give us more confidence and inevitably buy into his program and his system.”