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Football: It’s official: Weis to return

Bill Brink | Thursday, December 4, 2008

Charlie Weis will remain the head coach of the football team, athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced Wednesday.

Swarbrick and Weis met in California Tuesday to discuss the season and the future of the football program. Swarbrick said the decision came as a result of a review of the football program, not directly regarding Weis’ job status.

“The issue becomes, the outcome of that analysis for me, is the things that I see that we ought to focus on, are they consistent with the coach’s view?” Swarbrick said in a phone interview with The Observer. “Are we on the same page, do we see the same priorities, do we see the same things that need to be fixed?”

Weis led the Irish to a 4-1 start this year before Notre Dame lost four of its last five to finish 6-6. He has a 28-21 record in his four years at Notre Dame. He coached the team to two BCS bowls in his first two seasons, but then lost a school-record 15 games in the next two.

Swarbrick described a two-step process used to evaluate the program. First, determine how closely Weis’ priorities matched his. Should the two differ drastically, he said, he would decide whether the differences could be resolved.

“But we didn’t. We never did,” Swarbrick said. “My list and his list were remarkably similar, and our views with where we need to go forward were very much in sync. In that sense, it wasn’t in doubt.”

Swarbrick didn’t specifically say what needed to be fixed. He said he did not consider any other candidates for the head coaching position.

“Never talked to anyone else, never asked anyone else to talk to somebody, didn’t engage somebody for that purpose … whatever versions of that you can think of, we didn’t do,” he said.

Swarbrick said he talked to a number of people, both inside and outside the program, and asked them for their opinions of how Notre Dame could improve the team. He talked to people involved with both college football and the NFL, he said.

“You just talk to people,” he said. “What are your observations? What do you see when you look at us? What do you think we ought to be focused on? They’re open-ended questions that invite people with special knowledge and expertise to share their views with you.”

Swarbrick knew after his Tuesday meeting with Weis that Weis would be the head coach. Based on what they talked about in the meeting, Swarbrick said, he knew the two could agree on a plan.

“Now we’ll continue to build out that plan, we’ll get more detailed about it and start to implement some things, but we knew at the end of that meeting that we were on the same page,” Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said the large amount of attention from the media, fans and alumni, while a healthy aspect of the program, did not factor into the decision-making process.

“They do and say what they do and say because they care so much,” Swarbrick said. “And I think that’s a great thing. I don’t pay attention to it substantively, I don’t look at it for advice or good ideas, we don’t survey it to see how it’s running.”

Swarbrick also said the possibility of a bowl bid did not impact the process, but he expected Notre Dame to go to a bowl, though he did not know where.

“If we’re presented with a situation that we think is right for the student athletes, that’s consistent with providing a great experience for them, not conflicting with finals, et cetera, then we’ll be eager to do it,” he said.