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Posted September 15, 2005
A Weiser Irish
By Paul Noonan

     A lot of coaches won’t take as much credit as they deserve when their team succeeds. They instead credit the players for their hard work and their strong play. To a degree it is true, after all in the end it is the players who must go on the field and get it done. Yet in the case of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Charlie Weis deserves his due credit. A program that has hovered around mediocrity for the last decade or so, the Irish went from the New York Yankees of college football to the Cleveland Indians. Judging by the first two weeks of the season, the Irish are gaining back their respectability as the Indians have and are looking to do more damage.

      When the Irish hired Ty Willingham a few years back, they encountered a similar situation. Possibly energized by the thought of change, the Irish stormed through the first few weeks of the season, only to limp to the end losing many of their easier games of the season. This year, probably because of Weis, the Irish won’t have any easy matches. Already having faced two ranked opponents, the schedule doesn’t get much easier for the Irish with three ranked (including #1 USC) teams still in their future as well as fairly strong unranked teams. The positive aspect however, is that the Irish have won their first two games on the road, including this weekend’s win at the Big House in Michigan.

     So are the Irish finally going to pull out of their funk? It will still take some hard work, but for once the Irish may finally have the coach to get it done. Weis most likely could have landed an NFL job if he had wanted, but instead he went the college route. With him goes the Super Bowl champion experience as well as the attitude and some of the strategies of himself, Belichick and Romeo Crennel. All in all not a bad package. Even in the game against Michigan, the Irish were running the offense with no huddle at times, a move nearly patented by the Patriots. Weis’ interview demeanor is similar to Belichick’s, slow to praise and always looking for a better performance. That attitude though, is the staple of South Bend. In their glory days, it was the killer instinct of the Irish and coaches like Knute Rockne that lead to their dominance. It is a college town that thrives of football success, and in turn demands it. And so does Charlie Weis. I’m no mind read, but I don’t think Weis left a dynasty and legitimate Super Bowl contender to work a rebuilding project at the college level. Instead Weis is looking to fix- up an old house, and he wants to do it fast. A 2-0 opening is a good way to start.

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