The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Weis’ Road to ND: NFL success doesn’t translate to college for Weis

Bill Brink | Tuesday, December 1, 2009

He walked into then-University President. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh’s office with a complaint about the state of the football team.

In his book, he said he left “feeling as humbled as you could possibly be.”

Now Weis leaves Notre Dame again, probably not with the same humbled feeling as he had as a student but possibly with a different perspective on the frustration of losing than he had as an undergraduate.

After graduating Notre Dame in 1978, Weis coached at Boontown High School and Morristown High School in his native New Jersey. In 1985, coach Joe Morrison at South Carolina hired him and he coached there for four seasons. He returned to New Jersey to lead Franklin High School to the state championship in 1989.

That year, Weis made his foray into the NFL, working in the New York Giants’ personnel department while coaching Franklin. In 1990, he became a Giants offensive and special teams assistant under Bill Parcells. The Giants won Super Bowl XXV that year, beating the Buffalo Bills 20-19, and Weis earned his first Super Bowl ring.

In 1991, Weis took over as the Giants’ running backs coach and served for two seasons.
Weis then spent four years with the New England Patriots, also under Parcells. He coached the tight ends during his first two seasons in New England. In his third, he coached the running backs, and rookie Curtis Martin set Patriots records with 1,487 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. In his fourth year, 1996, Weis coached New England’s receivers.

From 1997 to 1999, Weis served as the New York Jets offensive coordinator. He coached under Parcells and Bill Belichick, whom he would later coach under in New England. He took the Jets, who went 1-15 in 1995, to a 9-7 record in his first season. In 1998, the Jets finished fourth in the NFL in total offense.

They scored the second-most points in franchise history and won their first-ever division title. The Jets’ top receivers, Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet, both passed 1,000 yards receiving under Weis, who was also the receivers coach. The Jets hadn’t had two 1,000-yard receivers since 1986.

From 2000 to 2004, Weis went back to New England, serving as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator under Belichick. New England won three Super Bowls during his time there and he helped make Tom Brady, the 199th overall pick in the NFL Draft, a top-tier NFL quarterback.

Five years ago yesterday, Notre Dame fired Tyrone Willingham as head coach. Their first choice, Urban Meyer, turned down Notre Dame and accepted the head coaching position at Florida. Meyer has since won two national championships with the Gators. Notre Dame then hired Weis and signed a six-year contract.

Midway through his first season, Weis signed a new 10-year contract that extended through the 2015 season and was worth anywhere from $20 to $30 million depending on reports. Weis compiled a 35-27 record at Notre Dame, won one bowl game and lost two.
Weis had success in his first two seasons at Notre Dame. The Irish almost upset USC at home during Weis’ first season, and he led the team to the Fiesta Bowl. The Irish lost to Ohio State. In his second year, Weis led the team to the Sugar Bowl, but again the Irish lost, this time to LSU.

In his next three years, Weis went 16-21, including a 3-9 debacle in 2007. The Irish went 7-6 in 2008, beating Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. This season, the Irish finished 6-6 and lost their last four straight after starting 6-2.