With the guillotine about to fall in South Bend, I feel like it's finally the right time to get this off my chest, and admit that I actually do feel a lot of empathy for Charlie Weis. It doesn't meant that I think he is a very good head coach, or condone everything he's said and done (particularly, his pitches to New Jersey prospects about "Jersey guys sticking together" in the middle of Indiana), but I do like him. It probably has a lot to do with bias towards anyone who has ever been remotely affiliated with the New York Football Giants.
I imagine that if I did have any kind of background in sports, I would want to delude myself into believing that the absolute best-case scenario for my tenure would be something resembling that of Paul DePodesta with the Dodgers, where he made a series of savvy moves, only to be run of town by self-important cretins like Bill Paschke at the first possible sign of vulnerability. Weis isn't worthy of that level of martyrdom, as his failings placed the Notre Dame program that much closer to permanently falling off the national radar, but he inadvertantly created more enemies with his perceived arrogance. Now, sportswriters will lap up and explain away all such misgivings if you win (see: Belichick, B. and Parcells, B.), but it's a thin line before the knives start coming out.
As any driver with experience on New Jersey roadways can attest, profanties and other rude behavior are the rule rather than the exception. You can only hope for a sort of indifference-to-neglect. I can't even recount how many times I talked with out-of-staters when I was an undergrad at Rutgers, and they all reiterated the same complaint: New Jerseyans are really, really unfriendly. Believe it or not, their primary gripe was that pedestrians on the street don't ever say "hello" to complete strangers. Wait a second, there are alternate universes where that occurs? Apparently so, considering that even Californians seem to be adamant about this point. It's no coincidence that television's House, M.D. is set in Princeton.
Hrmph, like those simpletons are worth engaging anyway! Apparently so though; a little gesture and perceived effort go a long way. We're all lacking in tact out here, and that's why Weis is heading out the door, and West Virginia's Bill Stewart, aw-shucks act and all, continues to hang on for the time being. That's a rough break, as Charlie had grown up his whole life in our gruff, no-nonsense culture, and was a fish out of water in the Midwest. (Watch how sanctimonious the locals at any Big Ten school become in response students from the Northeast, and their supposed big pockets.) I don't have any direct insight into why Weis said what he said
, but I can't count on two hands the number of times when I have unintentionally come as a self-centered jerk when that totally was not my intention. How many readers are nodding their heads right now and thinking, "yeah, I've been there."
Most of all, I think the Weis schadenfreude stems from the fact that he was the head coach at Notre Dame, the most deplorable and wretched football program in all the land. Which, is more than fine. Would anyone even watch them on NBC if it wasn't to see what new low the Domers can sink to each week? However, this line of thinking creates a new dilemma given what is about to happen. Notre Dame is firing
Weis; Notre Dame is automatically at fault, so it follows that Weis must have been wronged
, somehow. After all, he did once dream of coaching Rutgers up
into a good program. Has to be some
good in there.
Charlie Weis: a good, fair, misunderstood man crushed by the unrealistic dreams of a mediocre program mired in steady long-term decline. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Let's welcome Charlie Jr.
with open arms.