Nov. 1, 2005
COACH WEIS: This will take a few minutes. I have a number of things to talk about. Tennessee is a team that notoriously has been a dominating force, especially in the month of November. As a matter of fact, over the last 20 years in the month of November, their record is 75 5. You’re talking about a team that’s got a .938 winning percentage in the month of November because they usually close out the season very strong. Everyone wants to talk about their 3 4 record. I’d like to talk a little bit about it myself before I get going into particulars, especially about their four losses.
In their four losses, their defense has given up a total of five touchdowns, 86 yards rushing in a game and a little over 200 yards passing per game. I think I had it down to 294 total yards a game they’re giving up on defense.
Let’s talk about their four losses one by one.
They lose to Florida 16 – 7. In that game, they had three miscues on special teams. They muffed a punt, which set up a field goal. They tried a fake punt that was unsuccessful that set up a field goal. Then they had an eight yard punt that ended up leading to another field goal. There’s nine points of the 16 points they give up in the game to lose 16 7.
Georgia, they lose 27 – 14. Let’s talk about the turning point in that game. They had three turnovers in that game, two fumbles and an interception. But the turning point in the game is Tennessee had just scored to make the score, they were down 13 7. They recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession and all the momentum was moving in their direction. Three plays later, they fumbled the ball right back. Georgia went on to beat them 27 14.
Let’s talk about the Alabama game. Alabama is undefeated, right? We all saw they fumbled the ball. Two times they were inside the 10-yard line in the game, Tennessee fumbled the ball both times. And once with five minutes to go in the game, the score is 3 3, they just caught the screen pass, going in for a touchdown, they get hit, fumble the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. Alabama ends up getting the ball, going down the field, scoring, wins the game 6 – 3.
Last week against South Carolina, they lose 16 – 15. Up 12 7. Right before half, going in to score again to make the score 19 7. They have an unfortunate stroke of bad luck again and they fumble the ball into the end zone for another touchback. I’m assuming the score would have been 19 7 at the time. Being the final score was 16 15, I think the right deduction would be they would have won that game.
3-4, I just went through all four of their losses, showing you how very easily they could have won every game they played in.
Coach Fulmer, he’s been a head coach for 14 years. His record is 126-35. Out of all active coaches that have had 10 years’ experience, he has the best winning percentage of .783.
Their offense is averaging over 300 yards, averaging over 200 yards throwing the ball, averaging over a hundred yards running the ball. Everyone says they have no offense. Any time you’re throwing for over 200, running for over 100, I don’t know what they’re looking at.
This week the intrigue of course will come with Coach Fulmer taking over the play calling duties. Got to get ready for two totally different quarterbacks in Clausen and Ainge. You have a lefty and a righty. You have a 6’6″ guy, 6’3″ guy. All elements you have to be prepared for because they obviously play them both. Everyone talks about the loss of Riggs. Foster steps in his first start he rushes the ball 25 times for 148 yards and a 5.9 average in the touchdown. Fullback, 6’3″, 275, Anderson. You can’t forget about Brown in the passing game either as their tight.
On top of that, you have to be concerned, before I even talk about the offensive linemen, everyone is telling me about this offense. They have five wide receivers that all have 16 catches or more, and they’re all 6’1″ or taller and all experienced. Meachem is 6’3″, 205. (inaudible) 6’2″, 205. Hannon is 6’4″, 200. Swain 6’1″, 218 and Smith is 6’3″, 188.
That’s not to mention their offensive line, which is massive. Three of their five starters are over 330 pounds. Sears at left tackle is 6’4″, 338. Smith, left guard, 6’4″, 306. Gandy is 6’5″, 312, Douglas is 6’4″, 330, Toeiana is 6’6″, 355. Maybe I’m missing something.
I look at their defense. Coach Chavis, he’s done a great job for a long time. Fifth in the nation against the run. People are averaging 2.7 yards per run. All year long, they’ve given up three rushing plays for over 20 yards and they’ve given up three touchdown passes all year long. Three rushes for over 20 yards, three touchdown passes all year long.
No opposing team has rushed for over a hundred yards. They’ve got 21 sacks. You have Haralson and Hall at the end. Haralson five and a half sacks, Hall has five has five sacks. Ten and a half sacks between the two of them. You go inside, have you Harrell and Mahelona. They wreak havoc in there. They’re twisting all over the place. You have an athletic group of linebackers that have all started 18 games or more led by Simon at middle linebacker, then Gaither and Mitchell flanking them. Then you get to the secondary, all sorts of speed. You have the two safeties, Hefney and Stewart. They can play run sport and can cover. They have Wade starting at one corner and Johnson has done a great job replacing Jason Allen who is out for the season with a hip injury. Then nickel, you know, Fellows pops in and then Morley pops in. Seems to me they really got it going on defense.
It definitely is as challenging a group as you can possibly see on defense. To wrap it all up with special teams, Wilhoit, who handles both their kicking and kick offs, in the last 13 kick offs, he’s had nine touchbacks. You don’t even get a chance to return them for the last 13 times he’s kicked them.
Then you look at their punter, another Colquitt. This is the fourth Colquitt that’s punted there. His cousin Jimmy, his brother Dustin and his father Craig happen to be one, two and three all time punters on Tennessee stats. Go check it out. He’s probably trying to contend to see if he can take that over.
Then their punt returner and kickoff returner, Taylor, happened to go to the same high school that Kevin Faulk went to. I have some familiarity with that, too. He was a quarterback there, in case they didn’t know I knew that. He’s been handling all the return duties. He is fast and he’s athletic.
So don’t talk to me about Tennessee being 3 4 because this team could be 6-1 or 7-0 real easy. We’re definitely concerned.
Q. Can you talk specifically about what Travis Thomas has shown you through the beginning, up to this point in the season, that earned him playing time.
COACH WEIS: When he I first got here, the first game I coached here, Travis had already been awarded to be the team captain on special teams right off the bat. So he had already won my respect because I thought that’s the type of performance that he had put in the off season, getting ready to just get started when I first started coaching here.
But the bottom line, Travis has now put himself in the position to continue to get more reps offensively as a running back. It’s a definite change of pace between him and Darius (Walker). I have a lot of confidence in Travis both as a special teams player and as a runner.
Q. Because of Coach Sanders resigning, Coach Fulmer has a background in offensive coaching.
COACH WEIS: There will be no difference, only who’s calling the plays. It’s just like if I turn the play calling over to somebody else. It would be the same list of plays. It’s just the order in which you call them. It’s not going to change.
Game planning is game planning. It’s just how you call the plays on game day, that’s all. We won’t know that till after we have played a game.
Q. A couple of questions about Brady Quinn. What role does decision making play at the line of scrimmage in your system? How do you assess Brady’s decision making through this season so far?
COACH WEIS: I think he’s a very bright young man. I’m hitting the latter first here. He’s a very bright young man with football intelligence. Sometimes people can’t transfer intelligence to football intelligence. They might be a great interview, they might be a dumb football player. But he is not in that mold.
He’s a very bright football player. It’s really fun to be around because usually you only have to tell him something once. Even when he makes a mistake, sometimes when a player makes a mistake, you correct them, they get defensive. Here when he makes a mistake, he understands as soon as you say it why you saw it different than the way he saw it.
Obviously I have a lot of confidence in him because he really controls everything we do. He controls the identification of fronts. He has to read coverages. He’s definitely got more pressure on him than even I do.
Q. You said before the season started the most important quality in a quarterback was leadership. Again, how would you characterize how his leadership has grown from your arrival to now?
COACH WEIS: First, when he’s picked as an underclassmen, as a junior, to be captain of the offense, that makes a statement for the players. I didn’t pick that. The players picked that. It was a landslide, which shows you what they think of him as a leader.
He’s taken that and he’s run with it. He’s kind of taken it to another level, where now they look at him, they look at his face in the huddle. When he steps in the huddle, they expect good things to happen. Usually when they expect good things to happen, there’s a good chance they will.
Q. From the time you arrived until now, how if at all have you used Tom Brady as a teaching and coaching example for Quinn?
COACH WEIS: It was more before we started playing than now because the fundamentals and techniques that I think that Brady (Quinn) really needed to work on, he had a great resource of information because he had four years worth of Patriot tapes he could study. You talk about shuffling in the pocket, then you show him shuffling in the pocket. When you call a play and say, “Here is how he did it,” you talk about identification of fronts, recognition of coverages. When you’re talking about one of the best players in the NFL being as your visual resource, it’s a great tool.
Q. 10 and 11 as a starter before this season. What would you say has been a key catalyst for his develop and growth in working closely with you and in the system?
COACH WEIS: I wasn’t here before the season. He’s 5 2 as far as I’m concerned. That’s what he is. He continues to want to be challenged mentally each week, which allows you to do that.
Several people had talked to me when I came here about, “How much offense are you going to be able to put in?” I said, “As much as the quarterback can handle.” Fortunately for me he can handle a lot. It makes it easier for me to game plan.
Q. Your own personality in working as closely with him as you have from the start, how have you seen that influence him and manifest itself with the team?
COACH WEIS: You’re not trying to turn somebody into you. I think that you have to realize that each person has their own personality. I just want him, within his own realm, within what he’s comfortable doing, I want him to show an air of confidence that things are going to work out and do not panic.
He shows that very clearly.
Q. You mentioned both Tennessee quarterbacks are probably going to play. How do you go about preparing your defense for that system?
COACH WEIS: Not having a lefty quarterback in practice, that is a little bit of a problem because obviously there are plays designed for a righty quarterback and lefty quarterback that are different than just your regular drop back passes.
You’re counting on your scout team guys to do a good job. Our coaching staff really tries to identify, here are the Clausen plays, here are the Ainge plays, or here are the plays that they’d call regardless of whether it was Clausen or Ainge.
It forces you to break down Tennessee a little bit different because there are certain things that each one of those does better than the other.
Q. Do you designate a different scout team quarterback?
COACH WEIS: No. We’ve done that in the past. We haven’t here because if we had a lefty quarterback, we would do exactly that. But we haven’t done that here.
Q. A couple weeks ago you mentioned (Justin) Hoskins, you were going to discuss the issue.
COACH WEIS: I don’t discuss player issues. He’s out there practicing with a chance of playing in the game. He’s out there practicing. He wasn’t practicing, then I told you we were going to talk to him, then he was out there practicing. I think the next day we practiced after that was brought up, he was out there practicing.
Q. Any update on Powers-Neal?
COACH WEIS: He’s not out there practicing.
Q. How would you define a trap game?
COACH WEIS: This certainly isn’t one. All you have to do is watch the tape. When I sit there and give these facts and figures right there, it isn’t just trying to make myself look good to make it look like we know what we’re doing here. This is the scariest 3 4 team that you’re ever going to go against because they’re capable of beating everybody every week and they know it. Our guys know it, too.
All you got to do is put on the tape. They see it. They see these things that I just talked about because I’ve shown them these same things I’m telling you about. They’ve seen it. There’s no trap. You don’t have to worry about a trap in a Tennessee game.
Q. Can you talk about maybe some of the things you felt you were able to accomplish during the bye week.
COACH WEIS: The things that we set out to do I thought we did. I think some of them let me rephrase that because I wasn’t happy with everything we did either.
One of the things I was disappointed in, we had some line of scrimmage penalties in previous games and in practice we continued to have some line of scrimmage penalties which we continue to work on. With that having been said, we worked on tackling, we worked on line of scrimmage penalties, snap counts, we worked on fundamentals and techniques. And we also got a lot of guys ready to go for the stretch drive.
We’re in November now. We got a four game season. Now there are no more bye weeks. It’s a regular routine from here on out. It’s game, game, game, game. We need everybody. We need them healthy. We need them ready to go. We were able to get some bumps and bruises healed up. We were able to get some backups ready to go. In addition, from a coaching staff’s perspective, we were able to do two things: one, spend a little extra time on our opponent this week, and two, do some serious work on recruiting last week.
Q. In talking to Brandon Hoyte before the season, one of his goals was to be a more complete linebacker. He was pulled in the nickel coverage last year. How would you say he’s done in terms of being a really good linebacker against the pass and run?
COACH WEIS: We don’t take him off the field. He’s on the field all the time. He’s on the field in everything we do. Obviously, he’s earned our trust as the most dependable guy we have in all situations. He can play the run. He’s pretty decent in coverage. He’s a good blitzer. He’s dependable.
Q. Have you had occasion or will you have occasion to just say hello to David Cutcliffe this week?
COACH WEIS: If he’s here, I’ll look him up. I don’t know whether he’s here or not. If he’s here, I’ll look him up.
Q. You’ve had three games at Notre Dame Stadium this season as well as the pep rally. With 21,000 more seats than there were when you were a student, is it still the special place you remember it being?
COACH WEIS: I got to appreciate it more when I was a student, because when you’re a student, you’re involved in all that. You’re involved in that hoopla and everything like that. To be honest with you, I really don’t notice too much on game days other than what’s going on out on the field. I really don’t. Excuse my ignorance, but I kind of become oblivious to all the other things that are going on and I’m really focused on what’s going on on the field. I really don’t notice.
Q. What did you think made it special when you were a student 25 years ago?
COACH WEIS: That you never got to sit down. I never saw a place where you go to a game and you stand the whole game. I sit down on timeouts and you stand up when the play is going on. Think about that concept. It’s usually just opposite, right? Usually you stand up and stretch.
I remember for four years never sitting down. That’s kind of a unique experience being part of the student body. If you want to see, you better plan on standing.
Q. Talk about what you do in practice to work on those penalties at the line of scrimmage. I don’t think most of us or most fans would understand what you’re trying to do.
COACH WEIS: You intentionally change snap counts to force discipline on both sides of the ball. Then people who have infractions are then penalized appropriately.
Q. What would be the appropriate penalty?
COACH WEIS: It all depends.
Q. Talk a little about Tennessee. What is it that makes that defense so effective? Is it just that they have these tremendous athletes or is it the scheme?
COACH WEIS: Let’s start with the fact that they can get pressure on you with only rushing four. Not that they don’t blitz, because they blitz plenty. Any time you can rush just four and get pressure on the quarterback, that already gives you an advantage. There are a lot of times when you got five offensive linemen to block four guys. Usually you have enough to where the quarterback can make something happen. But they are physical up front, both as pass rushers and in the run game. They move around a lot. They have an experienced group of linebackers behind them that are there to make plays on top of it before you even get to the speed in the secondary. You got speed in the secondary, you got experienced, athletic linebackers and a front four that’s pretty dominant. I think that’s a very good combination.
Q. Because of that, because they can run so much, does that make this the biggest challenge for you going into the season?
COACH WEIS: I’d say this is as good a defense if not the best defense we’ve played this year. I have no problem saying that. This is as good a defense as we’ve ever as I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here.
Q. Have you ever successfully run a two quarterback system?
COACH WEIS: Not really. We’ve had a couple plays in the past where you put somebody in to run an option or something like that. Usually it doesn’t end up panning out. Usually I’ve always believed you get one guy ready to go and get the backup ready to be the backup. If something happens, you put him in there.
I’ve never been a big proponent of practicing two guys. You practice the guy that’s going to play.
Q. Have you ever had to prepare for a two-quarterback system?
COACH WEIS: Several times I’ve had this issue where you got to prepare for more than one quarterback based on where you were. You’re in Buffalo. Are you going against Rob Johnson or Doug Flutie? They’re two totally different quarterbacks. I’m citing that as one example. Two totally different guys. There’s a lot of times when you’re going against different guys that you have the first guy that’s hurt, you’re not really sure whether he’s going to play or not, you’re getting ready for the backup. It’s quite a contrast usually between the first guy and the second guy.
Q. When you came here, you said that Notre Dame was 6-6 for a reason. You don’t view Tennessee being 3-4 for a reason?
COACH WEIS: Sometimes inconsistency can be different. I thought we were inconsistent, that’s why I thought we were 6 6. I think they’re 3 4 because they’ve been unfortunate in critical situations. I don’t think that’s inconsistent. No one wants to turn the ball over going into the end zone two weeks in a row. That’s just almost a fluke. It just doesn’t happen two weeks in a row. It’s happened to them two weeks in a row and ended up costing them a game. I’m not making it up. We all saw it.
There’s a difference between that and being inconsistent. When you go out and lose by 30, it’s different than when you lose on one critical play.
Q. When a team does it four times, isn’t that more of a fluke, isn’t it more of a trend?
COACH WEIS: Well, let’s hope so. But I’m certainly not counting on that. See, the problem with that is if you start feeling that way, then you’re setting yourself up for the trap yourself because then you’re starting to think it’s going to happen again this week. Before you know it, it doesn’t happen and you find yourself on the short end of the stick. As a coach, as a player, you can’t fall into that belief that you’re talking about right there.
Q. Is that the message to the team this week?
COACH WEIS: Very clearly.
Q. You mentioned something about (Brandon) Hoyte. Do you think he’s one of your hardest hitters?
COACH WEIS: I’d say yes. He’s a very powerful, well built player. Sometimes people look at height and they don’t look at how they’re put together. I’m not sure how tall it is. It’s not very, but he’s 230, 235, and he’s very powerful.
He has fun playing the game. Just like Brady (Quinn) is on offense, Brandon is a very good leader on defense. He’s infectious.
Q. You talked the other day a little bit about negative recruiting. Has the amount of that stuff that you’ve heard since you’ve been here been more or less? Has the message you’ve heard changed from the time you took the job until now?
COACH WEIS: I’m cautious to answer that question because I could imply how things were done before I got here. I do things a little bit differently, okay? I think it all starts with how your organization is going to be run.
In my case, when I hired Rob (Ianello) to coordinate the recruiting, we have Ron (Powlus) and Dave (Peloquin) and Kristen (Marcucilli) and Tim (McDonnell) in the personnel department, the most important thing for me was to get out there and pound the pavement myself because I had a message to sell as much as I had the program to sell.
So far we’ve had fairly good response. That’s not to imply that anyone before me, whether it was Tyrone or Bob or anyone before me did it any worse or any better, it’s just different. My message has been different.
We’ll see on February 1st how it all pans out. I don’t intend to be a one year wonder in recruiting. I intend this to be an every year passionate thing. I don’t think you just set up one year recruiting and then throw in the towel and say – that was pretty good. You need to earn your stripes.
Q. Would you expand on your theme for the week. What are you going to try to do to try to get the players’ attention?
COACH WEIS: Put on a tape. All you got to do is put on the tape. You can put on a tape of them on special teams. Just watch the South Carolina game last week, getting turnovers. There are plenty of plays on offense. You can see their speed, wide receivers. You can see the runner running through people. You can see the offensive line being dominant. There’s plenty of evidence.
On defense, I shouldn’t even have to answer that question because I just told you all the things I thought about their defense. This is going to be a very challenging game. But it’s good when you have tape because a lot of times if you hear 3 4, you say, `This team is 3 4, coming into our place, no problem, we’re 5 2.’ Just as long as those players aren’t oblivious to when the coaches put on tape, it will be a very easy sell.
Q. How much attention do you pay to what the opponent is doing offensively? Do you leave that to the defensive staff?
COACH WEIS: Oh, no, I watch it. I watch it all. Normally what I’ll try to do is, as the game goes on, after having studied it during the week, I’ll try to give my insight of what I think they’re going to do. Here comes this, here comes that. I’m not necessarily going to Rick (Minter) and saying, “Run this defense, run that defense.” I’ll occasionally say to do this or that. I’ll never give my insight on `Let’s play two cover or get after them.’ I’ll do that, too, but normally I’ll try to watch the game to try to figure out what they’re going to do. Usually sometime in the game I get a handle on what I think they’re doing.
I have an experienced defensive staff. I try not to think I know everything.
Q. I asked you last week to compare the schemes you’ve seen defensively with what you’re used to seeing in the NFL. Could you do the same offensively?
COACH WEIS: I think there’s a lot more grab bagging. Tennessee doesn’t fit this mould. There’s a lot more grab bagging. There’s some pretty wild stuff. For example, that BYU offense where they never huddle, guys are running on and off the field all the time. That looked like a fire drill to me sometimes during the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that.
Of course, they put up big numbers. They’re obviously doing something right. Just like 61 on Air Force this past week. I get kind of fascinated sometimes by some of the stuff that is out of the norm. We’re getting back into a team this week that’s a hard nosed team that wants to pound the ball at you, take their shots at you, wants to wear you out, make some big plays in the passing game. That’s more what I’m used to going against.
Q. You’re a pretty good motivator. When you come out, you motivate everybody. What motivates you?
COACH WEIS: My wife dominates me. She’ll be the first to tell you. I’ll go home and she’ll tell me, “Somebody’s got to keep you in line.”
Two things. I’m not kidding when I say my family, because they are my biggest critics now. Way worse than you guys are, trust me. Both my wife and my son, they tell me all the time.
Success, that’s what motivates me. I want success for our program. I set a very high bar for what success is. I’ll accept nothing less than that performance out of myself every week. I don’t believe in ever having a letdown.
Q. Could you talk about their defensive end, Haralson. He’s only 248 pounds. What makes him so effective and so dangerous?
COACH WEIS: First of all, he looks bigger than 248 to me. He might be 248. I used to say the same thing about Michael Strahan with the Giants. He’s I think listed at about 260 pounds. You sit there and say they play the same position, they’re over at that left defensive end on our right. Why are they such good players?
There are really two reasons when a guy is undersized. A, they’re dynamic pass rushers. B, they play with leverage. I think he does both. He’s a very good pass rusher and he plays with leverage. The only way a guy who is undersized can win out playing against bigger bodies is when they play with leverage.
Q. This is a guy you think has good enough skills that could transfer to the next level?
COACH WEIS: There are a lot of guys playing like him. That guy who plays that right defensive end on my left for the Indianapolis group that the Patriots are getting ready to go, that number 93 guy that they’re playing against Monday night, I don’t know how big he is, but I’ll tell you what, he gets after it.
Q. Staying with the defensive line, against South Carolina, the defensive line had 10 tackles, but they also broke up 10 passes. How were they able to do that?
COACH WEIS: It comes once again back to those athletic defensive linemen. It all starts there. Some of those balls are getting knocked down by the defensive tackle. There’s one play I watched this morning. Their right defensive tackle on the left guard, he smells a three step drop, jumps up, almost intercepts the ball. They’re good and they’re athletic.
Q. Have you ever faced a team quite like Tennessee that has this much talent and is this dangerous, sort of struggling as much?
COACH WEIS: I’ve faced a few. I’ve faced a few in case you’re wondering. I’ve gone against some defenses that are pretty dominant. I can list you about 15 of them if you would want me to, but it would take me too long.
Q. Is there any team that stands out for you that has been in this kind of situation, the record doesn’t match up with what you think they can do?
COACH WEIS: I think for this level, for the college level, they have a dynamic group of defensive players. You got to remember that next level there’s many, many dynamic players that you go against. It isn’t just one guy you have to worry about week in and week out. For a college level, I don’t think there’s a group you’re going to go against much better than this one.
Q. You talked in the past about having a plan for everything. It seems like you have a lot of influence on every aspect of the program. How does that influence help you to succeed in building a program?
COACH WEIS: There are many elements involved in a successful organization. If you just look at this as your job just as a football coach, the way the structure is set up here, that would be a misnomer. There are a lot of different hats you have to be willing and accepting to wear. By making sure everyone’s on the same page from the top all the way to the bottom in every facet, it leads for a lot less problems and much less miscommunication. It becomes a much more efficient operation.
Q. Have you noticed it already has helped you in your first year?
COACH WEIS: It’s been a very, very easy transition for me because everyone is so willing to work with you. There have been times in my lifetime where I’ve been places where you never felt like that. From the president to the trustees to the AD, to the AD staff with all the associate and assistant AD, sports information, to the trainers, to the equipment guys, to the video guys. Remember, everyone knows about the football players and the football coaches. You go through all these different elements. People forget about all these people. I think they all want the same thing, which is success for Notre Dame. It makes my job a heck of a lot easier.
Q. In terms of game planning, I’m sure you go week to week. Do you have other long term plans that you think about, stuff you thought about once you were hired?
COACH WEIS: I had pretty well figured out which direction I was going to go. You need to have thought about that before December. Now is not the time to think about that. I’m actually thinking about this December. I’m thinking about January, okay?
As I look back, are there things I would have done differently? There are always things that you could second guess yourself on. I’m more of a guy who tries to learn from those experiences and live in the present and look towards the future.
Q. Is it true you got a 1600 on your SAT?
COACH WEIS: That’s a misnomer. Let’s look at it this way. If I said yes, I’m either smart or a liar, okay? If I said no, what do I gain from saying that? Let’s leave it ambiguous.
Q. Three or four years ago, you were pretty much off the radar in the eyes of Notre Dame. You have a long term contract, things are going well. Is there a sense of accomplishment in that, a sense of, “I showed them”?
COACH WEIS: I’ll tell you that when I retire. Accomplishments will be judged when I’m done, not what I’ve done to this point. I’ve only been here for seven games. I’m going to be here for a while. We’ll see how it turns out when I’m all said and done.
Q. What about since you’ve taken the job? Have you had people out of the woodwork, ex students, people you knew that have totally amazed you, “Where have you been all this time?”
COACH WEIS: My long lost friends that want tickets to the games? Yeah. I’ve gotten all sorts of calls by, “By the way, can I get four tickets to the Tennessee game?” I’ve had several of them.
I haven’t been surprised by anything. I’m happy to be here. It’s really important to me and my family to be here. It’s really important to me personally that by the time I leave here for things to be favorable.
The only ways they could be favorable is if you run a program with integrity and you win.
Q. With regards to scheduling, having the two bye weeks so close together in the future, is that something you try to avoid?
COACH WEIS: First of all, I don’t schedule them. I’m not being a wise guy when I say it. I don’t schedule them. Whenever the bye weeks come, they come. You have to use them wisely. Bye weeks can break momentum. There’s a lot of things that can happen if you don’t use them wisely.
In the future, when there’s a 12 game schedule instead of an 11 game schedule, there will only be one bye week. If it’s early in the year, you have to use it to push your system. If it’s in the middle of the year, you got to use it to rest your guys. You just have to make sure whenever those bye weeks occur, use them to the greatest benefit.
Q. Considering how important your relationship is with the quarterback, when you recruit quarterbacks, are you looking specifically for a type of personality that’s going to allow you to relate to that person even more so than any other person?
COACH WEIS: Absolutely. There were some front line quarterbacks out there that just didn’t fit. We just don’t fit. There isn’t a reason why. It’s just that I’m a tough coach. The quarterback is not absolved from being given up in front of the team. In a lot of places you go to, the quarterback is off limits when it comes to constructive criticism. You don’t give the quarterback up, heaven forbid, you might hurt his feelings. That’s not for me. Just like I’m going to say something to some running back or offensive lineman, the quarterback has to be willing to take it, too. Not everyone is willing to do that.
If I don’t feel that they want it to be them, they don’t just want to come here, they want to be the guy. I want guys that want to be the guy, but they’re not going to be afraid when you give them up in front of everyone else because you’re going to hurt their feelings. We’re going to have a bad relationship if I’m going to hurt their feelings.
You have to be both a good cop and a bad cop. When you press them, you don’t back off them at that time. You wait till a time later to back off of them. It’s a mind game. It’s never where you’re going to stay on them the whole time. You have to find a time to get them out of the tank, too. You have to know when that moment is. That’s a feel. You can’t define when that is. It’s just a feel.
Q. Part B of the urban legend about your academic credentials, with your 1600 SAT.
COACH WEIS: I did not say that. Do not say I had 1600.
Q. Were you accepted into Harvard?
COACH WEIS: Let’s not get into that. Let’s not get into my background.
Here is what I can tell you. I graduated from Notre Dame and I got a masters degree from South Carolina. That’s all I can tell you. Those are the facts. Those two things are true. There have been some people who have been questioned in the past. I’m not going to be one of them. (Laughter)
Q. Why do you think this love affair will last for 10 years?
COACH WEIS: I’m going to run a program with integrity and win. That’s what I told you the two key components were. That’s what we’re going to have to do then or else I’m going to be a failure.
Q. Being that you are so involved in so many aspects of the program, how do you guard against spreading yourself too thinly?
COACH WEIS: There’s a great support staff here now. I have a bunch of people around me. Between Chad (Klunder) and Karen (Demeter) and Tim (McDonnell), those people that surround me, my staff, the support staff, player development, Notre Dame does a great job of hiring enough people to cover all things. I don’t do anything in public relations without talking to Doug (Walker) and John (Heisler). I don’t go do things without heeding their advice and running things by them. I don’t just arbitrarily do things. You have to use all the resources and make sure you realize they’re professional in what they do and you have to utilize them or else you’re missing the boat.
Q. You said you have a high standard for success. What is that standard?
COACH WEIS: Aim to win every week. I said early when I got here one of the things that I believe the team had to do is believe that they were going to win every time they step on the field. Now we’ve lost twice. There have been two times we did not attain that goal. Every week we go out to play, I believe we’re going to win. We have to go prove it, but that’s what I believe. Setting the standard anything less than that is just no good.
Q. Off the field, what’s that standard?
COACH WEIS: That comes back to running a program with integrity, making academics not just lip service, making that important. I can’t tell you how many times I sit there in front of the team, the first thing we do is talk about academics. One of them was yesterday. I do it all the time. I support our admissions here. When we have problems, I don’t have to worry about somebody else getting hold of them, I get hold of them first. When there are off field problems, hey, we have kids who get in trouble like everywhere else. We just have less of them. I think it’s important that you have players with character. If you have players with character, you have players who go to class and graduate, you practice when you preach about having integrity, you’re usually doing okay.