November 13, 2008
I'm not surprised that Jason Whitlock's "Pear Bryant" shot at Charlie Weis for the timing of Weis' reconquest of Notre Dame's playcalling duties drew a few approving nods around the 'Sphere and a flash flood of lolz on message boards. Calling out Notre Dame's softy November scheduling, Charlie Weis' ego and Charlie Weis' figure in one swoop is low-hanging, uh, fruit.
I'm a little more perplexed by today's backlash, though, after The Wizard of Odds pointed out (as ESPN had Tuesday night, all night long, on its nonstop scrolling ticker) that Weis was taking over for offensive coordinator Mike Haywood because Haywood was missing time to attend a funeral. That might make Whitlock seem rather crass and self-serving, if it wasn't such a late-breaking addition to a meme that began over the weekend and initially had nothing to do with Mike Haywood's off-field responsibilities.
Weis announced he was going to become more involved with the offense at his Sunday press conference, less than 24 hours after the Irish were shut out at Boston College for their 15th consecutive loss to a winning team. This was so transparently a return to calling plays that the Chicago Tribune headline in that link was "Charlie Weis set to resume calling plays," even though no one had outlined the extent of his plans. To the extent this involved Mike Haywood, it was that Haywood's offense wasn't up to par:
"The last two games, when you go back and revisit the Pittsburgh game, for sure the second half, we've gone the last game and a half without production on offense."
"I've been trying to do the head-coach stuff where you kind of delegate. But when there's a problem and an area where you believe you can be part of the answer, you'd better go fix it."
Weis is taking over the offense, in his words, because he'd "better go fix it," not because anyone's missing practice. Haywood's absence this week is coincidental to a takeover that was already in the works. It's not opportunistic or anything; it's just coincidental. Either way, Weis is reclaiming the offense just in time for Navy and Syracuse. And Whitlock -- name-calling aside -- is within his job description to question the timing. (Although he might have also added that Weis is grabbing the reigns just in time to stare down USC in three weeks, too. If ND somehow misses a bowl, that's some bad taste for the rest of the offseason, and it's squarely on the big guy).