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Students mixed on Weis’ return

Irena Zajickova and John Tierney | Thursday, December 4, 2008

Despite losing 15 games in two seasons – the most losses for any Notre Dame coach in that time period – Charlie Weis will be retained as the head coach of the Fighting Irish for the 2009 season.

The decision has garnered mixed feelings from Notre Dame students. Some feel that impulsively firing Weis would be a mistake, especially if there are no high-caliber coaches available to replace him.

“You don’t want to be too quick about this,” said Michael Augsberger, a junior. “Look at the coaching market. There’s no one that wants to come here that’s qualified to run the program. It’s not like we can get Urban Meyer.”

Sophomore Kristin Gales agreed, and said that Weis’ talents in the recruiting arena are perhaps a reason why his job is, for now, safe.

“I am disappointed in how this season went, but I understand that there are many factors involved in retaining or dismissing a head coach,” Gales said. “Weis has proven to be an excellent recruiter and while that is only one part of the job, it is a relevant part of his job performance and perhaps a reason for optimism in the future.”

Senior James Butler said Weis’ recruiting prowess is a key reason why he should be retained.

“It’s a good thing because there’s lots of good recruits,” he said.

Butler insists that Weis should get another season with his top-tier recruits. “There’s a lot of potential,” he said. “It’s his team, and it’s not like the players want to lose.”

Junior Kylynn Fontaine agreed that Weis’s recruiting ability is a good reason to keep him.

“For recruiting, it’s a good thing that he’s staying,” she said. “He’s really good at recruiting.”

But recruiting isn’t everything, according to Fontaine.

“In terms of coaching, whatever he’s doing now isn’t the right thing,” she said. “People expect us to be better that a .500 team.”

She suggested shaking up Weis’ staff.

“He might need to make some staff changes at some of the offensive positions,” Fontaine said.

Freshman Sondy Corgan said that all of the blame for the Irish’s disappointing season cannot be placed squarely on Weis’ shoulders.

“I don’t know a lot about football, but I think they should give him a chance to do better. He’s not the one on the field throwing interceptions,” Corgan said.

Gales said that one of the biggest hurdles Weis will have to overcome next year is setting up a dominant ground game.

“The biggest challenge will include establishing a solid running game, an area Weis has struggled with for the past four years,” Gales said.

Junior Andrew McCorry said that Weis’ job, while safe, will not stay that way for long, despite speculations of his future with the Irish being guaranteed because of the large amount of money needed to buy out his contract.

“The decision just delays the inevitable. If Weis doesn’t take the team to a BCS game next season, which I really don’t see happening, he’s gone. No question about it,” McCorry said. “To think that Weis wasn’t fired because of the buyout is nonsense. Twenty million dollars is pocket change at Notre Dame.”

Other students agree that because of all the high-profile recruits currently playing for the Irish, another disappointing season will not go over well with alumni, students, or fans.

“I definitely will be upset if we lose more than two games next year,” said Justin Siler, a sophomore. “The talent is obviously there, so if we do not have a great season next year, there is obviously something wrong with the coaching.”

McCorry agreed, and said that if Notre Dame has another mediocre season, then, “At this time next year, we will all be talking about who the next coach is going to be.”

Senior Mike Faron was harsher in his evaluation of Weis’ performance.

“He’s a bad coach,” he said.

Monetary considerations, especially in today’s recession, are also of concern to some students.

“It’s probably best [that Weis was retained] since it’s rumored to be a $20 million buyout,” sophomore Sean McMillan said.