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Football: Weis to give up playcalling duties to coordinator Haywood

Jay Fitzpatrick | Monday, February 11, 2008

For the first time since he came to Notre Dame in 2005, Charlie Weis will not be calling the offensive plays.

Weis announced Friday that he will relinquish offensive play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Haywood in 2008 – a decision the head coach said was very difficult to make.

“I’m going to try to cut the proverbial – the figurative – umbilical cord and try to move myself a little bit away from being the sole primary guy on the offensive staff,” he said. “That means Mike will write the scripts and set it up on offense, and that means that all the offensive coaches now won’t have to worry about the ever presence of the head coach breathing down their neck all the time.”

Weis said even though he will not be calling every play, he reserves the right to “interject” his opinion when he sees fit. But Weis said he knew he had to take a step back on offense in order to help his coaches fulfill their potential.

“I think that sometimes when you have a number of good coaches, sometimes they get stymied or stifled a little bit when you have a very domineering presence when the head coach is also involved in the offense,” Weis said.

Even though he will step back from offensive play-calling, Weis said he will continue coaching the No. 1 quarterback next season.

“I always feel that my greatest strength as a football coach is developing quarterbacks, so I think that for Jimmy [Clausen] and Evan [Sharpley] and now the new guy [freshman Dayne Crist], for all those guys, I think that that’s part of what I do.”

Weis added that every offensive coach maintains the same position he held last season, just with added responsibilities.

Defensively, that is not the case. Weis announced Jan. 31 that he had hired former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta to be the assistant head coach/defense after Bill Lewis – who held that position the last three seasons – retired due to a hip surgery. Weis said on Friday that Tenuta will be an “idea guy” for defensive coordinator Corwin Brown to lean on.

“With Jon, obviously we get an experienced coach that Corwin can lean on as an idea guy that can really help as our defense evolves and can really help our defense,” Weis said.

Starting this spring, Tenuta will coach the linebackers and Brown will coach the secondary.

Brian Polian, who had coached special teams and outside linebackers last season, will become solely the special teams coach – a move Weis said came after the disappointing Irish kicking game last season.

In 2007, the Irish lacked a true special teams coach. Instead, the unit was coached on a committee-basis.

“Brian will be the special teams coach, it’ll be his deal, but I’ll be his assistant,” Weis said. “And I think when the head coach makes himself an assistant to an assistant coach, I think it might create a little sense of urgency with us on special teams.”

Weis, who announced last fall that he would meet with his former colleagues of the New England Patriots to fix some of last season’s problems, also plans to meet with Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer to talk about how to improve Notre Dame’s special teams.


uNotre Dame will be without two players this spring – tight end Will Yeatman and nose tackle Pat Kuntz. The South Bend Tribune reported on Jan. 28 that Yeatman was pulled over last week for DWI on Holy Cross Drive by NDSP and was suspended indefinitely by both the lacrosse and football teams.

Kuntz left the University at the beginning of the semester, but plans to return by the fall.

Federal privacy laws limited what Weis could say about the two players. The coach said he was “hopeful” that both players would be back by the fall.

uTwo Irish players’ careers were ended by injuries this winter.

Defensive end Darrell Hand and offensive tackle Bartley Webb were declared medically unable to compete and are no longer on the football roster. Both will keep their scholarships, but they will not count against the football team’s total number.

As part of the medical scholarship, both players will have to find a campus job. Weis said Webb – who one day wishes to be a football coach – will work closely with the team.

uThe American Football Coaches’ Association, led by new president and former Irish coach Tyrone Willingham, decided during its convention last month that head coaches will no longer be able to travel on recruiting visits during the spring. Weis said Notre Dame will have a second junior day on campus in late March as a result. The Irish had already planned for a junior day on Feb. 24.

Weis said he plans to spend the added time with Notre Dame’s current players and his family. He also plans to visit this year’s 11 award-winning Notre Dame Alumni Clubs across the country.