Dec. 12, 2004
Charlie Weis, a 1978 University of Notre Dame graduate and owner of three Super Bowl champion rings as products of a stellar 15-season career as a National Football League assistant, has been named the 28th head football coach of the Fighting Irish.
Weis, who signed a six-year contract, will be introduced at an 11:00 a.m. EST press conference Monday at the Joyce Center on the Notre Dame campus.
A widely-respected disciple of professional coaching standouts Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, Weis currently is the highly-regarded offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots (under Patriot head coach Belichick). He has played an integral role in New England’s victories in two of the last three Super Bowls – and the Patriots currently own the best record in the NFL in 2004 at 12-1.
Weis becomes the first Notre Dame graduate to hold the football head coaching position at his alma mater since Hugh Devore (a ’34 graduate) served as interim coach in 1963 (the Irish finished 2-7 that year – Devore also coached the Irish to a 7-2-1 mark as interim coach in 1945). Weis is the first Notre Dame graduate to serve as the Irish football coach on a full-fledged basis since Joe Kuharich (a ’38 Notre Dame graduate who coached at Notre Dame from 1959 through ’62).
Now in his 26th season overall in coaching, Weis is in the midst of his ninth season with the Patriots and his fifth as the team’s offensive coordinator. In those previous 14 NFL seasons, his coaching contributions have helped produce those three Super Bowl championships (New York Giants following 1990 season, Patriots following ’01 and ’03 seasons), four conference titles and five division titles. Weis has been a winner everywhere he has coached – and he has received widespread notice as one of the most creative and innovative offensive coordinators in football.
All along the way, Weis has displayed the ability to develop successful offensive players. He helped advance the careers of New York Jets’ running back Curtis Martin, Jets’ wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, Patriots’ tight end Ben Coates and, most recently, Patriots’ two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady. Under Weis’ tutelage, the former sixth-round draft choice has become one of the NFL’s premier signalcallers in just three seasons as a starter. Including the playoffs, Brady has compiled a 52-13 record as a starting quarterback since stepping in early in 2001, when Weis also was serving as the New England quarterbacks coach.
In addition to his offensive coordinator responsibilities, Weis also mentored the quarterbacks in 2001 and 2002. In `01, Drew Bledsoe started the first two games of the season before being sidelined with a serious chest injury. By the third week of the season, Weis was preparing Brady for his first NFL start and, over the course of the season, Brady blossomed into a Pro Bowl performer and earned the MVP award in Super Bowl XXXVI. Brady only continued to improve, leading the NFL with 28 touchdown passes in 2002, then turning in another Super Bowl MVP performance in `03.
Charlie Weis walks into the Joyce Center late Sunday night after being named head football coach at Notre Dame.
In recent seasons, Weis’ offense has permitted youthful Patriot offensive stars such as Brady, Deion Branch, Notre Dame graduate David Givens and Kevin Faulk to flourish. His offense also has allowed New England veterans such as Troy Brown, Christian Fauria and David Patten to enjoy resurgences in their careers. Brown established a New England record with 101 receptions in 2001, earning his initial Pro Bowl invitation in his ninth NFL season. Fauria led the Patriots with seven TDs in 2002 (his eighth pro campaign), while Patten’s 61 catches in `02 were the most of his seven-year career.
Weis also made great use of contributions from a pair of 2002 draft picks to help the team to its second Super Bowl championship in 2003. Branch led the team with 57 receptions in his second pro season, while fellow second-year player Givens paced New England with six receiving TDs. In the postseason, Givens added a pair of scores, while Branch’s 10 catches in Super Bowl XXXVIII tied for the third-most in Super Bowl history. Givens, who played for the Irish in 1998-2001, currently leads the `04 Patriots in receptions with 58 for 783 yards and 10 TDs.
The 2004 Patriots currently own a franchise-record string of 18 consecutive homefield victories (regular-season and postseason combined) over three seasons, the longest current streak in the NFL. Meanwhile, Patriot running back Cory Dillon already has rushed for 1,309 yards and 10 TDs (ranking fourth in the league last week and including seven 100-yard games). New England enjoyed a 21-game unbeaten streak, including the final 15 games in 2003 (including three in the playoffs) and the first six in ’04 and now has won 27 of its last 28 games overall.
Weis started his professional coaching career with the New York Giants in 1990. After assisting in the Giants pro personnel department while also coaching high school football in `89, Weis a year later was named defensive assistant and assistant special teams coach (under eighth-year Giants head coach Parcells). In his first season on the Giants coaching staff, the Giants claimed the Super Bowl title with a 16-3 overall record. In 1991, Ray Handley took over as coach of the Giants and named Weis his running backs coach. After two seasons on Handley’s staff, Weis began a four-year stint in New England – all four of those seasons under Parcells.
In Weis’ first tenure with the Patriots from 1993-96, he assisted in the development of some of New England’s all-time best individual season performances from Coates, Martin and Terry Glenn, respectively. During his first four seasons in New England, he coached three different positions. In 1993 and `94, he served as the Patriots’ tight ends coach and, in his second season at the position, Coates set an NFL record for receptions by a tight end with 96 and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. In `95, Weis coached the Patriots’ running backs and was credited with developing Martin, a third-round `95 draft pick, into one of the premier running backs in the NFL. That year, Martin won league rookie-of-the-year honors and set franchise rushing records with 1,487 yards and 14 TDs. In `96, Weis coached the New England receivers, with Glenn leading the team and setting an NFL rookie reception record with 90 catches for 1,132 yards and six TDs.
From 1997 to ’99 (with Parcells as head coach and Belichick as assistant head coach), Weis called offensive plays for the New York Jets. In his first season, the Jets improved from 1-15 in 1996 to 9-7 in `97. The eight-game improvement ranked as the best in franchise history. In `98, Weis was named the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach. By season’s end, his offense ranked among the greatest in franchise history and led the Jets to their first division title. The team scored 416 points, second-highest total in franchise history (after 419 points in `68) and averaged 357.2 yards per game. It marked the second-best total-offense season average in Jets history (368.5 yards per game in `85). Both of Weis’ starting receivers, Johnson (1,131) and Chrebet (1,083), eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for the first time in their careers. It marked the first time since `86 that two Jets receivers reached that milestone in the same season.
In `99, Weis’ offense produced the NFL’s second-leading rusher and the AFC’s fourth-ranked receiver. Martin rushed for 1,464 yards, falling only 90 yards shy of the rushing title (won by Indianapolis’ Edgerrin James). Johnson led the Jets and established career highs with 89 receptions for 1,170 yards, earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod.
Weis has enjoyed tremendous coaching success at all levels, including high school, college and in the NFL. The Trenton, N.J., native began his coaching career in 1979 at Boonton High School in New Jersey, then spent the next five seasons at Morristown (N.J.) High School as a football assistant. In `85, he was hired by head coach Joe Morrison at the University of South Carolina, where he served four seasons on the Gamecock staff before returning to New Jersey as the head coach at Franklin Township High in `89. That year, he directed Franklin Township to the New Jersey state championship while also assisting in the Giants’ pro personnel department. In `90, he launched his professional coaching career with the New York Giants and celebrated the first of his three Super Bowl championships.
Weis was born March 30, 1956, in Trenton, N.J. After graduation from Middlesex (N.J.) High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree in speech and drama from Notre Dame in 1978. While coaching at South Carolina, he earned his master’s degree in education in 1989.
In 2003, Weis and his wife Maura established the Hannah & Friends Foundation, dedicated to children affected by developmental disorders. In the spring of `04, the first annual Hannah & Friends Celebrity Golf Classic was held to benefit the foundation.
Charlie and Maura have two children, Charles Joseph and Hannah Margaret.
Year by Year with Charlie Weis
Year Team Position1979 Boonton (N.J.) High School Assistant Coach1980 Morristown (N.J.) High School Assistant Coach1981 Morristown (N.J.) High School Assistant Coach1982 Morristown (N.J.) High School Assistant Coach1983 Morristown (N.J.) High School Assistant Coach1984 Morristown (N.J.) High School Assistant Coach1985 South Carolina Graduate Assistant Coach/Defensive Backs1986 South Carolina Graduate Assistant Coach/Linebackers1987 South Carolina (8-4, Gator Bowl) Volunteer Coach/Defensive Ends1988 South Carolina (8-4, Liberty Bowl) Assistant Recruiting Coordinator1989 Franklin Township (N.J.) High School Head Coach1990 New York Giants (13-3, Super Bowl champion) Def. Assistant, Asst. Special Teams1991 New York Giants (8-8) Running Backs1992 New York Giants Running Backs1993 New England Patriots Tight Ends1994 New England Patriots (10-6, Wild Card loser) Tight Ends1995 New England Patriots Running Backs1996 New England Patriots (11-5, lost Super Bowl) Wide Receivers1997 New York Jets (9-7) Wide Receivers1998 New York Jets (12-4, lost AFC title game) Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers1999 New York Jets (8-8) Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers2000 New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs2001 New England Patriots (11-5, Super Bowl champ.) Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/RBs2002 New England Patriots (9-7) Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks2003 New England Patriots (14-2, Super Bowl champ.) Offensive Coordinator2004 New England Patriots (11-1) Offensive Coordinator
Among the former Notre Dame football players who played on Weis-coached teams in the National Football League are tight ends Mark Bavaro (1990) and Derek Brown (1992), safety Dave Duerson (1990), offensive tackle Tom Rehder (1990-inactive) and defensive end Eric Dorsey (1991-92) with the New York Giants, running back Robert Farmer (1999) and quarterback Rick Mirer (1999) with the New York Jets, and tight end Jabari Holloway (2001-inactive), fullback Marc Edwards (2001-02), wide receiver David Givens (2002-present), defensive back Rod Smith (1993-94) and defensive back Brock Williams (2001-02) with the New England Patriots. Duerson, Bavaro, Edwards, Williams, Holloway and Givens are now owners of Super Bowl champion rings based on those experiences.
Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian on Charlie Weis: “Charlie has proven to be one of the outstanding offensive minds in football. His teams are exceptional in their use of personnel, exceptional in the way they attack defenses, exceptional in the concepts they use. You’ve hired a guy who clearly is on the cutting edge of offensive football.”
Looking for a list of first-time college head coaches who have been successful? Check out the current Associated Press poll – and you’ll find names like Stoops, Tedford, Richt and Fulmer, among others. The move to Notre Dame marks the first collegiate head coaching job for Charlie Weis, but that’s hardly unusual when you eyeball a list of the best teams in the country in 2004. A look at the final regular-season AP top 25 poll shows that 11 of the 25 coaches whose teams made the rankings are in their very first head coaching position at the college level, including some of the biggest names in the college game. The list includes:
#2 Oklahoma's Bob Stoops 12-0 in `04 67-11 overall (.859 win percentage)#4 California's Jeff Tedford 10-1 25-12 (.676)#7 Louisville's Bobby Petrino 10-1 19-5 (.792)#8 Georgia's Mark Richt 9-2 49-11 (.817)#13 Michigan's Lloyd Carr 9-2 95-28 (.772)#14 Miami's Larry Coker 8-3 43-6 (.878)#15 Tennessee's Phil Fulmer 8-3 121-30 (.801)#16 Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez 9-2 108-69-4 (.608)#20 Florida's Ron Zook (Illinois) 7-4 23-14 (.622)#23 Texas Tech's Mike Leach 7-4 38-25 (.603)#25 Boston College's Tom O'Brien 8-3 64-42 (.604)
Four others had been previous head coaches but not on the Division I level:#1 USC's Pete Carroll 12-0 41-9 (.820)#10 Boise State's Dan Hawkins 11-0 30-5 (.857)#11 Iowa's Kirk Ferentz 9-2 41-31 (.569)#24 Ohio State's Jim Tressel 7-4 39-11 (.780)
* Of these 15, seven made the jump from college offensive coordinator to Div. I head coach (Tedford, Petrino, Richt, Coker, Fulmer, O’Brien, Leach).
* Four made the jump from college defensive coordinator to Div. I head coach (Stoops, Carr, Alvarez, Zook).
* One (Carroll) made the jump from NFL head coach.
* Three (Hawkins, Ferentz, Tressel) were head coaches at non-Div. I institutions.
Former Notre Dame All-America tight end Mark Bavaro (he played under Charlie Weis with the New York Giants) on Weis: “I don’t think they could make a better decision. He’s a very straightforward, no-nonsense type of guy. He’s not in it for glory or self-promotion. He’s in it to win. He’s a student of both of those guys (Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick), from the same school, from the same coaching tree as those guys. If you want know what kind of coach he’ll be, look at Parcells and Belichick. He’s definitely proven he can handle pressure. The Notre Dame job comes with its owns type of pressure, but from what I’ve seen him go through in the past, I think he’ll come through just fine.”
When Charlie Weis takes the field with the Irish in 2005, it will have been 42 years since a Notre Dame graduate held the University’s head coaching position. But there has been plenty of Notre Dame head football coaches with Notre Dame degrees:
Knute Rockne 1918-30 Class of '14 Hunk Anderson 1931-33 Class of '22 Elmer Layden 1934-40 Class of `24 Frank Leahy 1941-43, 46-53 Class of `31 Hugh Devore 1945, 1963 Class of `34 Terry Brennan 1954-58 Class of `49 Joe Kuharich 1959-62 Class of `38 Charlie Weis 2005- Class of '78
Ed McKeever (1944) attended Notre Dame but graduated from Texas Tech.
Current New England Patriot wide receiver David Givens (he played for Notre Dame in 1998-2001) on Charlie Weis: “He’s been a teacher and coach of high school kids and he’s got so much experience coaching NFL players like myself. There’s no doubt in my mind he would be an outstanding recruiter because he relates so well to young people. I can say this because I’ve played for Charlie and I played at Notre Dame. I understand the pressures of playing and the pressures the coaches had coaching us at Notre Dame. They’re all things Charlie would do very well with.”
Charlie Weis served as a consultant for the video game NFL Quarterback Club ’99 – providing game strategy for the Nintendo 64 product made by Acclaim and designed by Iguana.
Former Notre Dame All-America quarterback and current ESPN analyst Joe Theismann on Charlie Weis: “I think Charlie Weis in the right man for the right job at the University of Notre Dame. He understands throwing the football. That’s what this era of college football is today – the ability to put it in the air. He’s been a student at Notre Dame so he knows the culture of the University. He’s worked on a big stage, having been part of World Championships two of the last three years with the Patriots. He’s very inventive – his offenses have included defensive ends at fullback and linebackers at tight end. He’s inventive as well as creative. He’s a man who will bring a quiet discipline to the program. I think it’s a great hire.”