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FOOTBALL: Sneak peek

Pat Leonard | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Charlie Weis made himself, his assistant coaches and selected players available to reporters Tuesday afternoon for Spring Football Media Day.

While the function served as a standard preview to spring practice – which begins on Tuesday, March 29, six days away – the Notre Dame head football coach also divulged some unexpected information.

Former Notre Dame football players Tim Brown, Joe Montana, Joe Theismann and Chris Zorich all will return to campus the weekend of the Blue and Gold game (April 23) to serve as assistant coaches in the spring contest.

“Those players … are four good representatives and alums of Notre Dame that were part of this football program, that matriculated through here, that could help restore the image of Notre Dame,” Weis said. “I think right now [that] is one of the biggest goals I’m trying to accomplish, is to get us all to where we want to be.”

Notre Dame went 6-6 in the 2004 season. November 30, head coach Tyrone Willingham was fired after three seasons.

Controversy surrounded the firing, and the administration hired Weis – a 1978 Notre Dame alumnus – to alter the direction of the program.

In the spring game, Montana and Zorich will help coach the Blue team in the spring game, while Theismann and Brown will pace the sidelines with the Gold squad.

Weis said he checked with NCAA compliance officers to make sure the former Irish greats could help coach the spring game and received permission.

“They can be involved and they will be involved,” Weis said.

Weis recognized his own purpose Tuesday, announcing his intention to make tradition a part of the present.

“All I do know is that I don’t have all the answers,” he said.

“There’s a lot of rich tradition at Notre Dame that I’d like those players to be a part of. … I just know that I feel I’m just a part of Notre Dame. I’m not Notre Dame myself.”

Meanwhile, the coach spoke of looking toward the future and not evaluating his team based on past performances.

It would not be fair to judge players on the past when the coaching staff and schemes will be new, Weis said.

The only assistant coach not available to media Tuesday was former University of Mississippi head coach David Cutcliffe.

The Irish assistant head coach of the offense and quarterbacks coach underwent triple bypass surgery recently and is currently recovering at his home in Mississippi.

“I flew down to see him,” Weis said. “I was at his house on Sunday. He looked surprisingly well, He was in good spirits and was happy somebody from the staff was there shortly after he had gotten home. I told him I don’t want to see him any time soon.”

Weis will fill in for Cutcliffe in coaching quarterbacks, meaning he will have a more hands-on opportunity with starting quarterback Brady Quinn in the learning curve of a new and complicated offense.

“Coach Weis is somebody who’s been through it all, having expectations and having

success, and at times been through some difficult experiences,” Quinn said.

“He’s someone I think this program needs and needs to have in the future.”