Dec. 13, 2004
FATHER MALLOY: Welcome to you all. I am pleased to be able to welcome our new football coach. He has great pedigree, not only as a Notre Dame graduate, but in terms of his achievements in the professional ranks. I want to say to him, to Coach Weis, you have my whole-hearted support. We are really pleased to welcome you and your family back to our community and I encourage every member of the broader Notre Dame community to give you the support that you deserve.
I’d like to now welcome to the podium my successor, father John Jenkins, who I am confident will do an outstanding job and who will be working with our new coach in the years ahead. John?
FATHER JENKINS: Thank you. At the University of Notre Dame, the success in our football program consists of three things: Acting with integrity, giving our students a superb education and excelling on the field.
Meeting all of these goals is a tremendous challenge. But I believe we have found a person in Charlie Weis who can lead us to such multifaceted success. Charlie is a Notre Dame graduate, an offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots and holder of three Super Bowl rings; a man of tremendous character and a man who understands and embraces the highest ideals of Notre Dame. Charlie was clearly the most impressive candidate we interviewed, and I could not be happier that he will be the new football coach at the University of Notre Dame.
Before I introduce Kevin to introduce Charlie, I want to mention and recognize the very hard work put in by Kevin’s staff in this exhaustive search: Bernard Muir, John Heisler, Bill Scholl, Missy Conboy, Julie Schreiber and many others did a painstaking review of literally hundreds of potential candidates.
In the past two weeks, it’s been my great pleasure to work very closely with Kevin White, our athletic director on this search. Kevin undertook a comprehensive review of potential candidates. He conducted an impeccably professional search. He judiciously evaluated candidates and he achieved a resoundingly successful outcome. I enjoyed working with Kevin, and I very much look forward to working with both Kevin and Charlie Weis, to make this program successful in every way.
So, I’ll introduce Kevin White.
KEVIN WHITE: Father, thank you. I believe I have kept my word as promised. I have not spoken publicly since November 30th. Terrence (Harris), you were going to hold me accountable, I knew that.
Let me provide you with the anatomy of the search. The search was facilitated over 10 days. We utilized one outside search consultant, Gene Corrigan, former athletics director at Notre Dame, former commissioner of the ACC, and a guy that’s pretty busy consulting on lots of searches these days.
There were an unquantifiable number of conversations throughout the college and NFL football world with potential prospects, and about potential prospects. We conducted five formal interviews. We spoke with two candidates about specific compensation details. One candidate met by phone with our student athlete transition team, John Heisler will provide with you those names: Brady (Quinn), Victor (Abiamiri), Brandon (Hoyte), Justin (Tuck), Anthony (Fasano) and Ryan (Harris) participated. One candidate met with our NCAA faculty representative, and executive vice president. One candidate was formerly offered the position which was authorized by the University’s search committee and whose compensation was approved by the trustee compensation committee. Coach Charlie Weis accepted our offer.
He has 26 years of coaching experience, 15 years of NFL experience. Charlie has coached in four Super Bowl games. New England was won two Super Bowls within the last three years. His teams have won four conference titles and six division titles. The Patriots have won 27 of their last 28 games and are currently 12-1. Charlie is considered the most innovative and creative offensive coordinator in the NFL. He is a proud 1978 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. We are honored and proud to introduce the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, Charlie Weis.
COACH WEIS: Well, thank you, Father Malloy and Father Jenkins and Kevin and everyone else in the Notre Dame family for providing me with this opportunity to be in front of you today. But before I start talking about myself, there’s a couple people I definitely need to recognize: My wife, Maura, my son Charlie, my agent representative and friend Bob LaMont, who have helped me in this transition period and who are three of my biggest fans and wanting me to be successful both professionally and personally. I’d like to thank them and move on towards letting you know a little bit more about me.
This is obviously a high-profile, big-time job, but it’s one that I, a long, long time ago thought – `wouldn’t that be something if you could ever be the head coach at University of Notre Dame.’ You know when we all grow up (we have) aspirations. I grew up in New Jersey. I was an avid sports fan, wasn’t a very good athlete, mind you, but I was avid sports fan. At one time I wanted to be a sports announcer because I recognized at an early age, I don’t think I’m going to play pro, so I’m going to be a sports announcer. And then I went to Notre Dame and I said, oh, maybe not a sports announcer. Maybe I’ll get involved in some other way, I’m not really sure how.
So I was getting a degree in speech and drama, and communications as an emphasis. I also decided to get certified to teach just in case I wanted to go in that direction and be involved in the coaching. I remember my parents saying to me, “You’re going to Notre Dame to be a teacher”?
Well, my father, God rest his soul, he’s smiling in heaven today, because if he ever knew I would have been where I am today, he would be a very proud man.
I finished up at Notre Dame, and after a brief time in industry, I took a time teaching in a high school in New Jersey. And after, oh, about a five-year stint coaching in New Jersey, well, after the first year as a matter of fact, I changed schools and went to another school in New Jersey and was working for a guy by the name of John Cherone who was the head football coach at a school called Morristown High School. Here I was this know-it-all 22-year-old kid with all of the answers. I had all the answers, I knew it all. I was one of those guys who could watch the game and tell you all of the dumb things those coaches were doing. I was humbled working with him because I learned how little football I really knew at that time.
After working with him for five years, I ended up going down to the University of South Carolina with Joe Morrison who I met through a recruit he had recruited at Morristown High School. I went down there and guess what, I was humbled all over again, because now after going through five years of learning how to coach football and learning that coaching football is really — is really just teaching, not coaching. Football is really just another class and we also have treated it like you’re a teacher, not that you’re a coach.
So, after getting to South Carolina and learning the ins and outs of college football, unfortunately for me on February 5, 1989, just when I was really settling in to being a college football coach, on the last day of recruiting was a Sunday, it was February 5, on lunchtime of that day, I had a lunch with Joe Morrison and the athletic director at South Carolina at the time by the name of xxxxx, and they gave me an extra year and a half contract on that day. They extended me a year and I said, I’ve really made it in the world, okay, I’m moving on up. I went on a recruiting trip, when I came back, he had died. He had died that afternoon. He had played racquetball and he died. So now all of the sudden you’re in limbo, it’s 1989, just when you’re starting to settle into college football the guy who was your head coach dies.
Well, let me tell you something. February is not the best time to be out looking for a job, it’s not a great time. If you don’t know somebody, usually the jobs fill up and it’s a tough market out there.
So I went back to Jersey and I worked, I did some pro personnel work with the pro football Giants for Tim Rooney who is another guy that really helped me out in this business and Al Groh, who is head coach of Virginia who had been with us at South Carolina had said to Tim, I know some guy that’s down in South Carolina that’s got some time free, you want him to do some work, he’s your guy.
So I was doing some work for Tim Rooney, I took a job coaching a high school in Jersey as you guys have seen my resume or transcript or bio by now, after coaching at the high school in New Jersey one year in ’89, I went back so South Carolina figuring, let’s see if we can go in another direction. I got a phone call one day in January from and my secretary says, “Hey, there is a guy by the name of Bill Parcells is on the phone.” So it’s one of my friends obviously calling up just like I used to get the Ara Parseghian and Dan Divine calls when I was in college.
So I said, “Oh, sure, put him on the line.”
So I said, “Hey, Bill how is it going?” Well, it was Bill on the other end of line. He said, “What are you doing”?
I said, “Well, I’m working in here trying to figure out what I’m going to do.” And he paused and I said, “Coach, if you’re telling me I have any opportunity to come work for the Giants. Just tell me where and when you want me there I’ll be there, I don’t care if I have to drive.”
He said, “Well, tell you what, we’ll fly you up here on Friday let’s just meet.” So I flew up there and met with him for an entire day and flew back and I’m sitting down there with my friends in South Carolina saying I just interviewed for a job with the New York Football Giants. It’s just like interviewing for a job like at head coach at Notre Dame. I said wouldn’t that be something if I ended up getting hired.
Sure enough, about a month later, he must have got desperate because he hired me and obviously one of the two greatest influences of my life in the coaching profession is Bill Parcells. I mean, he took me, gave me an opportunity when I was an absolute nobody, hired me and groomed me, and started me on special teams and then I moved to offense and I coached running backs and I coached tight ends and I coached wide receivers and I coached quarterbacks, and I’ve done them all as position coaches.
But it always seemed like wherever I was with him, he always put me in positions that despite the fact that teams might not have been the best, they had good players at those positions, so it kind of set you up for success.
So I have no illusions of grandeur that I’m the greatest coach known to mankind, but I do appreciate the fact that Coach Parcells both gave me an opportunity and kind of groomed me and developed me into a legitimate football coach.
Then when I left — when Coach Parcells ended up retiring with the Jets and Coach Belichick who has been a friend of mine for 15 years left and went up to New England, I went up there with him, and obviously, what Coach Belichick has done is he’s magnified what Coach Parcells had done. He’s taken it to another level. They both are probably two of the greatest football coaches ever to coach in the National Football League, and I think from Coach Belichick for the last five years working under him as a head coach, you learn some things that, when you thought you had the answers, you learn that there’s always somebody that’s one step ahead of you. You think you have the answers, and he’s a notch ahead. The foresight and insight that he had is one of the things that I pride myself on trying to take the best attributes of each person I’ve been around and he’s ahead of most people. That’s one of the reasons why the New England Patriots have won so many games. But I look at those guys, those gentlemen who I have been able to be groomed under and be polished under and learned how to deal with the game of football and teaching of football and dealing with all of the different elements and the distractions, and get focused on what’s really important, I think finally you become a polished product.
The only thing is- you all are here today looking at Charlie Weis, you don’t know me. You just don’t know who I am because under the system I’ve been groomed in, I’ve been groomed under the best and it gets you in the position to be successful when you’re given your opportunity. Well, guess what, folks, I hit pay dirt. The opportunity just struck, so here I am.
So where do we go from here? I talked to the team last night, and I’m not here to talk to you about anything in the past, but I will say this first. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for Tyrone Willingham. And you can include his whole staff. But let’s talk about Tyrone for one second. Okay, he is one of the finest men I’ve come across in this business, and for me to say anything that would be disrespectful of Coach Willingham and his staff would be absolutely ignorant on my part. I wish him nothing but the best. But as I told the team last night, one of the problems and the reason why there are coaching changes is because expectations were not met. Really, that’s the bottom line in this business, folks. It’s if you win or if you lose.
Graduating kids is the first and foremost thing when you bring in a student-athlete because they are student-athletes, and it’s `student-athlete,’ okay. They go together – student and athlete. So graduating kids is of the most important, bringing in character kids who will make the university proud is important. But it’s all about winning games, that’s why there’s a coaching change.
I never like when there’s a coaching change because there’s families involved. Trust me, I’ve been an assistant coach my whole life. Wives move, kids have to change schools, it’s never a comfortable situation. But I came here because expectations were not met. And my job here is to raise those expectations. I’m not talking about it as an alumnus, I’m talking about it as the football coach. My job is to raise the expectation of the football team and the players, that’s why I’m here.
Now, there’s a number of issues that that’s related to but let’s talk about first and foremost, a quote, that Bill Parcells said to me years ago. You are what you are, folks, and right now you’re a 6-5 football team. And guess what, that’s just not good enough. That’s not good enough for you, and it’s certainly not going to be good enough for me. So, if you think they hired me here to go .500, you’ve got the wrong guy. But you are what you are. How fast or how well we get and how long it takes to get to the top, I’m not giving you those answers. I’m not going to predict that. But I can tell you this. You are going to have a hard-working, intelligent, nasty football team that goes on the field because the attitude of the head coach will be permeated through the players. And I hate to include the nasty, but that is part of being a winning football team.
So those are the type of things that I think are going to be brought to the table. I’m here for the present and the future. I’m not here to talk about the past. I’m here as a guy that went to school here and that understands the idiosyncrasies of being in South Bend, Indiana. We’ll talk about issues like recruiting and there will be 50 different questions of how are you going to do this or how are you going to do that. The bottom line is, obviously, I come here with a plan, and I probably won’t let you know what that plan is before you even ask me. But I come here with a plan, and the plan is, the first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to take care of the guys you already have here. Everyone wants to hear about recruits, but they forget about the players that are already here.
What about them? I’m supposed to worry about all of the recruits first before you worry about the guys that are already in school, the guys that have just gone through a trying time over the last few weeks? Where is this thing all headed? I think the first thing I’ve got to do is sell them on the program, and also, clear the slate for anyone that wasn’t on the program beforehand and be open-minded and give everyone a fair opportunity to show their wares.
And once that happens and you infiltrate the bottom of your roster with fresh people coming out of high school that raise the talent level from underneath, once you’ve done that and you’ve got a chance to establish that system, my job then becomes a simple one. It comes down to X’s and O’s. To be honest with you, when it gets to that point, I think that’s when we have the greatest advantage.
I think when it comes down to X’s and O’s, if it comes down to everything being open and it’s X’s and O’s, I have to believe we’re going to win most of the time. I have to believe that. So once I get those things accomplished, I think that all of you people who don’t know much about Charlie Weis are going to say, what took him so long? And when I come here, I don’t come here to leave and take a job in the NFL in three years. This is not a stepping stone.
This is an end-all for our family. We come to Notre Dame, it’s with the intent of retiring here. That’s why we’re coming here. We don’t come here to bounce somewhere else. If that’s what I was going to be doing, I would not be taking this job and I would be waiting till the season ended in the NFL and try to get one of those jobs. I’m here because I want to be here. I’ll proud to be here. I’m thankful to be here and I think with those things in mind, I can go on and on forever about the people I could thank and talk about past memories and talk about snowstorms in ’77 and ’78 and can talk about, you know, all of those basketball teams that came in #1 and got knocked off while I was in school and talk about, you know, Terry Ulrich, and one of my roommates all through college who was a player here and all of the arguments, how great Arthur Hill High School was in Saginaw, Michigan for four years. I could sit there and rehash all of the stories.
But I was a sports junkie, just like my kids. He wakes up in the morning early, so he can get his full hour of ESPN before he goes to school. But with that having been said, that’s what you’ve got. And unlike a lot of people that are in the profession, folks, what you see is what you get here. There’s no hidden agenda. There’s no self-promotion; this is who I am and fortunately or unfortunately I wear my colors. You don’t have to worry about — you know what you’re getting out of me because I’m a pretty straight shooter. A lot of you won’t like me then, because you’ll say, can I talk to you and I’ll say no. Or can I ask you this question; okay, go ahead I’m not answering it.
But I think there’s a protocol and there’s a politically correct way of doing things and I think my job is to be respectful to not only Notre Dame but also to the press. But at the same time, I’m not here to give you everything that’s happened at Notre Dame. I’m here to make this decision that they have made the right one and I have to earn that. They don’t just give you that. You earn the right to get the job.
Now it’s what you do once you get it, okay, that you’re going to be — that’s what people are going to judge you by. It’s what you did once you got the job, not the fact that you did get it. I’ve already done that. So that’s where I am right now. So welcome to my world.
For the time being, as you know, I am involved in two organizations, and for anyone who would like for one of those to be done earlier, then our priorities are wrong because my feelings are, I owe Notre Dame; and hence, the entire family to give them my best. I also owe the New England Patriots and the people from New England to give them my best until their season is over, because once their season is over, my NFL career is over and I’m the head coach of University of Notre Dame full time until the day I retire, and that’s what my intent is.
So with that note, fire away.
Q. How are you going to be able to reconcile the time factors that you have to deal with now, doing two jobs at once, especially when, sorry to ask, it comes to recruiting which you’ll have to deal with that?
COACH WEIS: Well, the first thing we’ve done is we’ve already started that process. One of the initial things we are going to have to do is get a foundation of a coaching staff that’s in-house, on site, that while there’s some going back and forth between places of which schedule I won’t talk about, I could have a foundation set.
Now, there are windows of opportunity for both me to be on the road, and in addition to that, there are dead periods when you can’t be on the road. So for example, this week, is a live week. You know, the next two weeks after that are dead weeks. So really, all everyone can do the next two weeks after this week is make one phone call a week of which I’m perfectly aware of.
So with that being said, you’re already taking this to January, so I’m going one step at a time. But I do have the next three weeks ironed out because that’s my priority right now, get me to January first.
Q. Could you talk about the offense you plan to run here at Notre Dame?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think before I get into particulars, let me just tell you a little bit about how we do business. First of all, you find out what your players can do and that’s what you have them do. We have a very broad, wide expansive offensive package, but you have to be able to utilize the personnel that you have available. I have a team that has multiple tight ends that can play, use multiple tight ends. If you have a team that has multiple wide receivers that can play, use multiple wide receivers. You know there’s always going to be five linemen out there, that’s what you do know.
So after you go by the five linemen and the quarterback that gives you five more players, and the usage of those five players and how you use formation and use personnel groups is what really gives you the advantage, because those defensive guys don’t know what you’re doing and that’s how we play the game. One week we might play against a team with no defensive backs, and we might throw a higher percentage than we run it. Or if we are playing against a team that’s not very good against stopping the run, we might run a lot more than we throw it.
It’s really not rocket science when you think about it now. You exploit their weaknesses. We are into team and attacking weaknesses of the team both schematically and personnel-wise.
Q. Question about assembling your staff and how you’re going to go about that, and do you have a time table for that or how that’s going to work out for you?
COACH WEIS: Well, without getting into the particulars of names, let’s say that that process is already in place, and I think that the first foundation has got to take place is, you always have to take care of some main issues. You have two types of coaches. Coaches that are the foundational like your offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator special teams guy, the guys that are going to have the most contact with the most people. Okay, get those in line so that you can fill a staff that has camaraderie, because if you don’t have a staff that has camaraderie and everyone is going a different direction, you don’t have much of a chance.
So that ball is already rolling, because obviously I’m well aware that the sooner you can get those things in place, the easier my job is going to be in the short time frame while I’m wearing these two hats.
Q. Are you looking at any of the guys that are currently on staff that might stay on?
COACH WEIS: I said last night that the entire team and the staff that I’m going to talk to every coach that was on the staff because Terrence (Harris) — by the way, sorry for not returning your phone calls. (Laughter).
I think that having been an assistant coach for most of my career, Terrence, I would want that common courtesy paid to me. I would not want an opportunity to get up before the new coach and say, hey, I’m leaving or I would like to stay or tell me more about themselves. One of the reasons I’m not getting into names or particulars is because I think they are owed that courtesy. I always would want to be treated that way, and if I don’t do that, then I’m a hypocrite.
Q. Wondering if you had a chance to see any Notre Dame games this past season and what your impressions were of the team?
COACH WEIS: How could you not see any of the games? (Laughter).
Well, Saturday afternoons happen to be the one dead time that we actually do have. The way our schedule is set up, we are with the players Saturday morning till noon, and usually if we are going on an away trip, we obviously hop on a plane. But if we are home, we are home from 12:30 to 4:30 of which my wife usually has my itinerary set by the time I get home.
But realistically, Saturday afternoons are usually one of my favorite couch times, and that’s usually what I would be doing. It’s tough to watch a football game because I’m really not a fan, you know. I’m too critical because I’m like everyone else. So the only release I have was watching Notre Dame; you could watch it for fun. That would be the one team you could watch for fun. And when they win, you would be happy and when you lose, you would not be too happy. And then you have to walk in that night and have all of the players rib you pretty good about how things went in the game and believe me, they are unmerciful.
Q. You mentioned that you had to sell the program again to your current players. How do you sell the program to the recruits given some of the turmoil that’s gone on?
COACH WEIS: Well, two things. That’s a great question and I think there’s two simple answers to that. First answer is, when young men are deciding to come to college, they should be picking Notre Dame for Notre Dame. That’s really what you should be picking the school for, because if you’re picking for the coaching staff, coaching staffs change, just like assistant coaches might change. You might be a wide receiver and two years from now, the head coach might be the same, but your position coach might be gone.
So even though the coaching staff didn’t change, that guy who you had your personal relationship with is gone, and you have that emptiness. Like that there was your confidant; there was the guy that you would go and talk to all the time. You might not feel that same openness, that same relationship, with either the next guy or another coach.
So the first selling point it has to be is they have to want to come to Notre Dame because of Notre Dame.
Now, second of all and I’m going to be very honest with you now, when players going to college, when they go to front-line programs, they want to be able to play on Sundays. They want to play on Saturdays, so that they could end up playing on Sundays. Every one of them has aspirations when they come to major colleges to be able to play on Sundays. And I feel that one selling point that’s a great advantage, not a disadvantage, I’m coming from teaching guys that play on Sundays, and I think that gives you, you’re short-changed on one end, but on the other end you have a decisive advantage because you’re there. They are watching you. Hey, go watch the game on Monday, we are playing Miami Monday night, just go watch the game. There’s some advantages, not all bad.
Q. What will your involvement be with the current team in terms of its Bowl game, will you attend the game?
COACH WEIS: I think I’d be out of line to be there. I think that this is not my show. This is a culmination of their season; it’s the end of the process. I think that, you know, I told them when I talked to them last night to go out there, play loose, have some fun and win, because there’s always a bitter taste in your mouth when you are not winning. And I especially feel that for the seniors that are not going to be back here. I’m not going to coach them, so I would not sit there and all of the sudden walk in and coach their game. That’s not right.
I think that the way that Notre Dame is handling this, and I especially want to thank the assistant coaches that stayed on to do, I think that’s admirable. They didn’t need to do that. They were going through this limbo stage along with everyone else, but I think I would be out of line to be there.
Q. How do you intend to use your Notre Dame background to your advantage?
COACH WEIS: Well, when you go talk to a guy about coming to school here, it isn’t like you don’t know. If you try to recruit a guy — I know, I’ve been here. I went here and you want to know something, you heard my story, all right. I didn’t play football.
So here is a guy who just was this guy that went to college here and was the head football coach at University of Notre Dame. So think about it here for a second. That means the sky is the limit, right? You are going to college somewhere, what do you want to do? What kind of success do you want to have in life?
Well, if you want to be a football coach in college, name me one that you want to have. Mine would have been Notre Dame, so here I am. So there’s a means to an end. This was the means and here is the end.
Q. So when you went to school here, did you attend all of the home games? Did you make road trips?
COACH WEIS: Unfortunately I made too many road trips. (Laughter) but yes, I never missed a home game in four years, okay. Would you like one little side-bar story? Okay.
Let’s talk about the Cotton Bowl, ’77, ’78, Texas No. 1 in the country. Load up the car in Jersey, four people driving down, driving down to Texas, Earl Campbell, all of the Jones’ going down there for the butt-kicking that (Texas) took, by the way. I get about 90 miles outside of Dallas, and I have a whole pocketful of money in there because I rented out the whole of Howard Johnson down there. I called up as soon as I found out Notre Dame was playing and I booked the whole hotel. I was an entrepreneur.
Anyway, so I’m about 90 miles from Dallas and I hear on the radio that the Vikings and the Cowboys are playing in the NFC Championship Game, and the game isn’t sold out, and if we don’t sell out the tickets by one o’clock, the game will be blacked out. So I drove right in there, their offices were at the Playboy Club in Dallas, walked in there, probably pretty slimy at the time after driving from Jersey with a car full of people. Walked in, said, “How many tickets you got left?” 17, I forget exactly what the number was. I said, “I’ll take them.” He looked at me, like I was some, and they said they cost — “I said I’ll take them.” I said I know I’m not from Texas, with my New Jersey attitude, so they went there and obviously that was a great day in Notre Dame football history because it was a butt-kicking. Just beat the #1 ranked team in the country going from #5 jumping up four spots and end up with winning their National Championship.
So that was one of my fondest memories on the road. I sat in the 59th row, okay, as a freshman, looking down and barely being able to see the field with all of these people standing ahead of you, but yes, I was at every game and I was an avid fan.
Q. The fact that you have not been a head coach, the fact that you have not recruited for quite some time, what do you feel are the biggest disadvantages there and how will you overcome that?
COACH WEIS: The NFL game has changed greatly through the age of free agency. That’s one that people don’t understand, that most teams are much younger than they used to be.
And there’s a lot of recruiting that actually goes on in the NFL. Every time a free agent comes free after their first contract, 25 years old, 26 years old, not like 35 years old like everyone thinks, there comes a recruiting period where you actually are trying to — because there’s five teams now that have a free agent that’s free to be able to go to any team they want.
So it’s on a different level, but that’s been what I feel is one of my strengths is being able to get involved in the active process of doing that. Now, obviously, not a contract guy and don’t proclaim to be any of that. But as far as the recruiting process goes, it’s not that farfetched to understand the recruiting is recruiting, and it’s people skills and you have to be able to sell both the school and yourself. I have the utmost confidence that I’ll be able to do both of those things.
Q. As an alumnus, can you talk about the firing a coach after three years —
COACH WEIS: Like, I said not to be redundant and not to skirt the issue, but I think that my the biggest issue is to talk about the present and the future. You know, I think that that’s not my business. I’m here for from here on. I can’t really — my issue isn’t really it to talk about the past. I’ll deal with that issue when it’s me we’re talking about.
Q. (Inaudible question about possibly only having three years to be successful)
COACH WEIS: I’ll deal with that issue when it’s me they are talking about.
Q. There’s been a lot of discussion about the schedule maybe being too tough and academics maybe being too tough here for Notre Dame to be an elite program. I wonder what your feelings are?
COACH WEIS: Well, let’s start with the schedule issue first of all. They schedule them and we play them. That’s the way it is. If they are on road, you have to go win on the road. If they are at home, you have to win at home. And I think that the people complain about those things are looking for excuses. The schedule is what it is. I don’t make the schedule. I just play it. That’s what I do. If I answered that any other way, what I would be doing is letting the players have a reason for or have an excuse for failure.
So I can’t complain about the schedule. I don’t make the schedule. All I do is play the game. That’s what we do. Doesn’t make any difference, whatever night or day they schedule them, we play them and that includes being able to win on the road and it goes back to having that toughness and playing smart and playing disciplined and being nasty and going in there with an arrogant attitude. Doesn’t make any difference where you go, you intend on beating them.
That’s the way I have to get the kids thinking, because once they are thinking like that doesn’t make any difference. You can call any play in the world, on offense or defense, but if the kids know the play is going to work, they are going to make it work. You’ll look like a genius, but you have to sell the fact to them, don’t make excuses No. 1.
No. 2, academics. No one come willing to Notre Dame expects this to be an easy ride. But what a lot of people don’t realize is how great the support system is here at Notre Dame. Once they get there, once people get in the school here, I think they have a chance of thriving. The most important thing is to find those guys, who are academically and character-wise combined with football ability give you an opportunity to be proud of them when they end up graduating from Notre Dame that they are a high-character kid who was able to graduate and by the way they could play a little football, too.
Q. What about — inaudible — David Givens, Mark Edwards, guys who you have coached who are also graduate?
COACH WEIS: Mark (Bavaro) is on the advisory board of a charity that my wife and I started and is a fairly close friend of mine. So I’ve been talking to him back and forth. We never really got into particulars. We just got — we talked about, well, wouldn’t that be cool, you know, wouldn’t that be different.
And with David Givens, to be honest with you, I’m not really talking about the Patriots other than the fact that it would be disrespectful to one organization versus another organization to use a player or a situation to help promote yourself. And I think that one of the reasons why, in a favorable sense now that you didn’t hear much about me is, because I didn’t think it was real important that anyone know unless it happened. And now it’s happened.
Q. Were you able to talk to the Patriots about the move?
COACH WEIS: Well, like I said I’m not going to talk about the Patriots right now. But what I did tell them is that I did not want anything going on with Notre Dame to be a distraction. And that they would get my utmost and full attention and diligence from game planning to call sheet to execution of the game, and they would have that both this past week and until the season ends.
Q. I guess my question is specifically how you intend to budget yourself between the two organizations from now through the playoffs.
COACH WEIS: Now that is a great question that I’m not answering. (Laughter). But that is, I tell you what, that’s probably the best question anyone could ask. The only thing is, I do know that Bill (Belichik) and I have had private conversations that as you know, Bill, we intend to keep private. You know the way we do business there, and I’ve had private conversations with Kevin and he would prefer that to be the same thing as well. So I think right now, we on both ends know what the plan is. But I think that right now, the plan is going to stay just that, it’s going to stay just private conversations.
I’m not skirting the issue, I’m being honest with you because on both ends, I’ve told both parties that that’s the way we do business. I’m giving you an honest answer without skirting the issue. That’s the best I can do. That’s the best I can do. (Laughter).
Q. Why all the secrecy?
COACH WEIS: Why? Because you would be disrespectful to either organization. You put yourself where I am. You want to be me? If we go out yesterday and lay an egg in the game, what’s every fan in Boston going to say? That I’m more concerned with the Notre Dame job than I am about doing due diligence with the Patriots. You’re asking me, so I’m giving you the answer.
On the other hand, if I’m to the involved in recruiting and I’m not involved in forming a staff then the people here are saying, well, we hired this guy but all’s he’s doing is worrying about them?
So you have to make sure you spread yourself, and you have to make sure you calculate your hours so that you can know how you can best do both jobs while there are two jobs. And it’s only going to be for another short time frame, hopefully till the first week in February and everyone says, gosh sakes, well, that’s recruiting. Well, what’s better recruiting; sitting in a Super Bowl locker room, “Hey, you sure you don’t want to come to school here”? (Laughter).
Q. Obviously there are a lot of pressures associated with being a coach in the NFL, but what do you think are the differences you’re going to facing a head coach here at Notre Dame?
COACH WEIS: The head coach today in today’s game is more like a CEO than he is just a football coach. Really, coordinators in the NFL today are more like head coaches because they coach football. Whereas the head coach is like a CEO as Bob LaMont will often tell me, there’s a lot of hats you have to wear as the head coach. You have to be dealing with administration, you have to be dealing with admissions, you have to be dealing with personal problems, family problems. There’s a lot of things you have to deal with, the press, there’s a lot of different hats you have to wear.
But I think the important thing is when you hire somebody to run an organization like the football program at Notre Dame, really you have to view it like you’re being hired as a CEO, not just as a football coach, and realize that you have to find the right people to delegate responsibilities to; and at the same time, you have to understand that you are the one that’s wearing all of those hats and you’re ultimately responsible for them.
Q. Obviously this job is a stressful one. Can you talk about being more mature over the years and learning to take care of yourself? Can you talk about how you managed that stress and matured in that way?
COACH WEIS: Well, here is what happened. I had an operation a couple of years ago and I almost died and I realized it just wasn’t that important. So a lot of those things I would get really fired up about, I realize it doesn’t do that much good or that much help for you if you’re fired up all the time. So now I pick and choose my spots, and I use my nasty, ornery look to get the same message across without having to use my nasty overtones verbally.
I think that what happened is by having something like that happen to you, it kind of humbles you and really changes your perspective; hey, it’s really not that important here. But trust me, I’ll have the look. You’ll see it. (Laughter).
Q. Your operation, you talked about how professionally important that might have been —
COACH WEIS: Time out. I didn’t say how professionally important the operation was. I said how the operation, let’s get this clear right now. Don’t put words in my mouth. What I said is how after that operation, my perspective changed and I learned how certain things where you get really fired up about in the past, you learn to handle with a much more controlled level, even-keel because it’s not that important. That’s what I said. Now we’ll go on from there. I just wanted to get that straight.
Q. I was referring to the process of becoming a head coach and how you thought that affected you previously, how important was that in terms of getting the attention you felt you deserved as being a head coach, and what does it mean to be standing here today in this position?
COACH WEIS: Excuse my ignorance here. But the particular question you want answered is?
Q. The surgery that you went through, I read that you talked about becoming a head coach, it was important to lose weight and appearance —
COACH WEIS: I never said that. The newspaper writer is sitting there saying that’s the reason why you do that.
You want to know why you do it? Because for 10 years you’re over 300 pounds and your father died at 56 of a second heart attack. You’re afraid if you stay at the same level, you’re going to drop dead. That’s why you do it. It has nothing to with getting jobs. That’s what everyone else says because they want to put words in your mouth. The bottom line is when you’re unhealthy, you’re unhealthy, do you something about it. That’s what it was.
Q. Is it fair to say that you always dreamed of being NFL head coach; and if so — I don’t want to put words in your mouth.
COACH WEIS: Go right ahead.
Q. What is it about Notre Dame that made you put aside that?
COACH WEIS: It’s Notre Dame. You just said it. You say there’s coaching jobs open, maybe you can get this job, maybe you can get that job. But this is Notre Dame. I’m not going to come up with a joke about some other college right now — I have a couple in mind, by the way. (Laughter) but I’m not going to take a shot at another college.
Realistically, you look at it, this is the University of Notre Dame, but one of those NFL jobs came along this year and if I would have gotten it and my family is still uprooted, I’m still leaving. If that ended up happening, if you have to move, you have to move. So if you’re going somewhere, you should go where you feel that both you and your family can be part of something special, and I can’t think of any other place better to be part of something special than this place.