November 30, 2008
In the process of pounding the pavement for a real number on Charlie Weis' much-disputed buyout before Saturday's disaster at USC, Michael Rothstein of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette was considering Weis' "signature game," Notre Dame's best performance under the big man since 2005. He came up with this:
Weis thought he had USC beat, and it's been basically downhill since the officials put time back on the clock following Matt Leinart's scramble. From that game to the latest offensive implosion in the Coliseum, in fact, the Irish look like they've regressed well beyond the point of no return. They look like San Jose State. Even with twice the wins, ND ends 2008 in exactly the same place as 2007 -- worse, in fact, since extreme youth and the two-game win streak at the end of the '07 debacle at least offered some promise for the future. Now the future is here, and it's even worse. Lose-to-Syracuse, three-quarters-to-pick-up-a-first-down worse.
The chorus is as loud this morning as it could be: Jeff Carroll, who said last week in the hometown South Bend Tribune that Weis should not return if the Irish lost to USC, is playing both advocate -- arguing that the program's "honor" is in greater jeopardy if it keeps Weis -- and disgusted critic, wondering what happened to Notre Dame's fight after kickoff. In the Chicago Tribune Rick Morrissey says Weis has to go. Neil Hayes in the Chicago Sun-Times remembers Weis' "decided schematic advantage" when he descended from the Patriots, and wonders four years later, what, exactly, are the Irish good at? All of them, along with everyone else with a forum the last two weeks, assumes Weis will probably be fired if the mysterious buyout doesn't pose too large a hurdle.
But there was no urgency after the debacle from Irish AD Jack Swarbrick, who's not even four months into the job and is already facing the defining decision of his career. Swarbrick "assumes" he'll meet with Weis next Monday, as usual, since both will be busy in California this Monday. That should be quite the interesting chat, if the partisans haven't stormed and burned Swarbrick's office by then.