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Weis here to win

Heather VanHoegarden | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

When he was unemployed 15 years ago, a job as the Notre Dame head football coach was the farthest thing from his mind. But Sunday, things came full circle for Charlie Weis, as he was named the head football coach at his alma mater, signing a six-year deal.

“This is obviously a high-profile, big-time job, but it’s one that I, a long, long time ago thought ‘wouldn’t that be something if you could ever be the head coach at Notre Dame,'” Weis, a 1978 Notre Dame graduate who didn’t play football for the Irish, said at Monday’s press conference. “You know when we all grow up we have aspirations.”

Weis, was without a job in 1989 after South Carolina coach Joe Morrison died, and as a result, he lost his assistant job. He then became a high school head coach for a year before coaching in the NFL. The last five years, Weis has been the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, winning two Super Bowl titles.

“At the University of Notre Dame, the success in our football program consists of three things-acting with integrity, giving our students a superb education and excelling on the field,” University President-elect Father John Jenkins said. “Meeting all of these goals is a tremendous challenge. But I believe we have found a person in Charlie Weis who can lead us to such multifaceted success.”

Weis said he didn’t come to Notre Dame to lose football games. He expects nothing less than winning football games in a program that hasn’t posted back-to-back winning seasons since 1997 and 1998 under Bob Davie.

“You are what you are folks, right now you’re a 6-5 football team,” Weis said. “And guess what – that’s just not good enough. That’s not good enough for you, and it’s certainly not going to be good enough for me.

“So if you think they hired me to go .500, you’ve got the wrong guy.”

Weis especially emphasized the new attitude he wants to bring to Notre Dame. He knows the Irish play a tough schedule, playing four of the first five games on road next season, including Michigan and Pittsburgh. But despite claims that the schedule is too tough, Weis wants his team to play with arrogance, a sense that they can beat anyone they play.

“Doesn’t make any difference whatever night or day they schedule them – we play them,” Weis said. “That includes being able to win on the road, and it goes back to having that toughness and playing smart and playing disciplined and playing nasty and going in there with an arrogant attitude.

“Doesn’t make any difference where you go, you intend on beating them.”

Weis will now have to balance his time between Notre Dame and New England. The Patriots’ season could last until the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. He would not disclose specifics about how he will split time, but he said he is confident in his ability to recruit, even while holding both jobs.

“One of the initial things we are going to have to do is get a foundation of a coaching staff that’s in-house, on-site, that while there’s some going back and forth between places of which schedule I won’t talk about, I could have a foundation set,” said Weis, who also said he will not be attending the Insight Bowl.

Weis, the first Notre Dame graduate to be a head coach at the University since Hugh Devore served as interim coach in 1963, said his knowledge of Notre Dame will serve to his advantage.

“Well, when you go talk to a guy about coming to school here, it isn’t like you don’t know,” Weis said. “If you try to recruit a guy – I know, I’ve been here.”

In the meantime, Weis said he will focus his attention on the current Irish players.

“I come here with a plan, and the plan is [that] the first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve go to take care of the guys you already have here,” he said. “Everyone wants to hear about recruits, but they forget about the players that are already here.”

For Weis, after he is finished with New England’s season, Notre Dame is the end of the road.

“I also owe the New England Patriots and the people from New England to give them my best until their season is over, because once their season is over, my NFL career is over and I’m the head coach of the University of Notre Dame full time until the day I retire, and that’s what my intent is,” Weis said.