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Football: CBS features Weis in Sunday’s ’60 Minutes’

Ken Fowler | Monday, October 30, 2006

Charlie Weis often says he’s a straight talker and “brutally honest” – and he furthered that image in a CBS “60 Minutes” feature that aired Sunday Night.

In a segment by longtime reporter Steve Kroft, Notre Dame’s second-year coach said he does not care what people outside his family think about his coaching, nor believe that any coach will do a better job for his team than he does.

“You only feel the pressure if you really care what everyone else thinks,” Weis said. “And I don’t care what anyone thinks.”

The 15-minute segment, which aired on CBS affiliate WSBT-TV (Comcast channel 12) and began at 7:57 p.m., highlighted Weis’ use of foul language on the field and in practice, including a clip of Weis screaming at Irish special teams coach Brian Polian to “get the [expletive] off the field” and complaining about a “bull-[expletive] call.”

At one point, Weis complains to an assistant coach about a blown blocking assignment.

“We’ve got a defensive end and we’ve got two tight ends and we don’t touch the mother-[expletive],” Weis said.

Irish quarterback Brady Quinn said Weis can be a jerk at times, a comment the senior said he would never repeat to Weis’ face.

The segment also noted Weis’ focus on player academics. Kroft said Weis found players on the team in a state of “complacency about winning, going to class and their potential.” That stands in contrast to prior statements by athletic director Kevin White, who praised former Irish coach Tyrone Willingham, who Weis replaced, for the team’s successes “Sunday through Friday.”

“My pet peeves with our players are to go to class, be there on time, be prepared, use our academic resources … and do the best you can,” Weis said in a portion of an interview that CBS made available on Yahoo.com. “And when people don’t meet that criteria, they’re in my door … and that’s an unpleasant situation. … And when it comes to practice, I do my best to try to humiliate them in front of their teammates that they don’t go to class.”

Kroft called Weis an “offensive genius” and an exceptional motivator who was brought into a program that had suffered two consecutive “miserable seasons.”

“At 6-foot-1, 300-pounds, his girth is exceeded only by his super-size personality that seems out of place at a university run by the Holy Cross Fathers,” Kroft said.

When Kroft quoted Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid saying that Weis must spend a lot of time in confession, University President Father John Jenkins offered his opinion from the roof of the Hesburgh Library.

“I’ve heard foul language in football locker rooms before,” Jenkins said. “If he’s spending time in the confessional, I’ll encourage him to keep doing that and repent.”

In another part of the interview made available only through Yahoo.com, Weis said his wife, Maura, and son, Charlie Jr., opposed his decision to have gastric bypass surgery in the summer of 2002. Weis nearly died in the aftermath of the surgery after suffering extensive internal bleeding in the surgery.

Weis repeatedly declined to comment about the segment before it aired, saying that he wanted to keep the media’s focus on the team, not on him.

On Oct. 3, Weis said he would talk about the segment only during Notre Dame’s bye week. When Weis did talk, one week later, he kept his comments to a minimum.

“What happened was they did a special on Tommy Brady last year,” Weis said. “Steve [Kroft] became intrigued by me. As the year went on, he decided he wanted to do something. We started about eight months ago doing little parts of this.”

CBS promoted the segment with a series of commercials that aired over the weekend during NCAA and NFL football games and included the clips of Weis using his New Jersey vernacular.

Kroft, an 18-year veteran reporter of 60 Minutes and a native of Kokomo, Ind., has won five George Foster Peabody Awards for distinguished achievement and meritorious service in broadcasting.