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Weis inspires early morning crowd

Pat Leonard | Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Charlie Weis began his first full day as the Notre Dame head football coach at 6 a.m. with 207 early-rising students eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Weis greeted the crowd in the Joyce Center arena Monday morning and introduced himself as the full-time Irish coach, speaking at length about his commitment to the team and answering questions from the audience.

“Obviously you care or else you wouldn’t be here this early on a Monday morning,” Weis said, minutes after students had chanted his name in anticipation of the coach’s appearance.

“I’m telling you right now, I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but we’re not going to be a 6-6 football team here very long,” Weis said. “I don’t know if it’s going be done in one year. I don’t if it’s going to be done in three years. I’m not making any promises, but I can tell you one thing – every week we’re going be competitive.”

Weis was originally scheduled to greet the students in the Joyce Center Football Auditorium, but the Notre Dame Sports Information staff moved the event into the arena when the auditorium – which holds approximately 70 people – overflowed by 5:45 a.m.

Fewer than twenty of the students at Weis’ talk were female.

Weis spoke for about 25 minutes in the arena, then answered questions from approximately 6:28 to 6:40 a.m., ending in time to get to a 7 a.m. staff meeting.

St. Edward’s senior Brendan Barrett, who came with 30 of his dorm mates to support the coach, said he watched Weis’ Dec. 12 press conference when the new coach was hired to replace the fired Tyrone Willingham. But Barrett had not seen Weis in person until Monday.

“Our [assistant rector] came in this morning and woke us all up,” Barrett said. “I was impressed. [Weis] had a good sense of humor. He was straight forward.”

Weis, who recently won his third Super Bowl (fourth overall) in four years as offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, juggled Notre Dame recruiting responsibilities and the New England play-calling job for the past two months. On Monday, the Irish head coach promised students he can now dedicate 100 percent of his attention to the Notre Dame job he so badly wanted.

“I had people call me the night I was taking the Notre Dame job saying ‘Just don’t take it, the [NFL] job’s waiting on you,” Weis said. “But I wanted to be here.”

Weis, who attended Notre Dame, incorporated a slight bit of humor when explaining his reasons for choosing the Irish job.

“One of my alternatives was to go to the Miami Dolphins,” he said. “So I went to my wife: ‘South Beach, South Bend, what’s the difference?'”

Weis said he chose South Bend because he and his wife would rather raise their son and daughter here. And on Monday morning, the Weis family was welcomed by a small portion of the Notre Dame student body that expressed its enthusiasm for the beginning of a new chapter of Irish football.

“How often do you get to see an NCAA football coach speak?” Barrett said. “If Lou Holtz or Ara Parseghian were to speak, I would have come to hear them.”