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December 6, 2009

The Weis interview - Part II

Untitled Document

On Jack Swarbrick: I leave here on good terms with Jack Swarbrick. There's no animosity between the two of us. He made a business decision that he felt was in the best interest of the program, and for that, I have no ill will. Although I would have liked the opportunity to continue, I understand why he did what he did.

QUESTION: You had said you wanted to speak today as a coach and as an alum. As an alum, what do you perceive to be the biggest problem on the Notre Dame campus?
CHARLIE WEIS: Residence life, and it's not close for second. I didn't even know Residence Life existed when I went to school. But if you took a poll of the students at Notre Dame and asked them what's the biggest negative issue, I would bet at least 50 percent of them would say Residence Life.

These are college kids, and college kids do what college kids do. There are things they do that I just don't understand why they are even issues (with Residence Life).

Q: For example…
CW: Let's say a kid has been too loud because he had some alcohol. Why wouldn't you just tell him to go to bed? Why would that be something that ends up in the hands of Residence Life?

Q: What is Residence Life's solution to that kind of problem?
CW: I don't know the answer to that. I'm just talking in broad terms. I don't know all the specifics so I would be talking out of turn. I just know that if you polled the University, the 8,400 kids that go there, at least 50 percent of them would say that the biggest negative is Residence Life.

Q: So you're saying that it's difficult for a student-athlete to adapt or feel comfortable in the dorms at Notre Dame?
CW: I think that living in a dorm is a big part of going to Notre Dame. It's a part that I treasure to this day. But I think that it would almost run people off campus, just so you're not dealing with (Residence Life). I'm not saying that the student-athletes are marked men, but let's face it, everyone knows who they are. What football player walks into the room and people don't know who he is?

Boys will be boys and I'm always going to defend them. We as parents know what we interpret with our own kids, what's out of line and what's not out of line. We all wish the best, but we know that our kids are going to be in trouble during the course of their lifetimes. I just think there are so many things that border on petty, like, 'I'm even talking about this?'

Q: How many times have you had those kinds of conversations with Residence Life-20, 40, 100?
CW: Tons. Let's just say that. Tons.

On the way Weis and his family have been treated: Every one of you guys has heard stories about me that have absolutely no truth to them. You've heard stories that do have truth to them. I'm not saying I'm a saint or that I'm perfect. But why do people arbitrarily say stuff? I don't get it. Don't they care about families?

Everyone says, 'He's making enough money; his family deserves (the grief).' How does money have anything to do with your family? What correlation could there be? Does that give them the right to take shots, to do harm to my wife and kids? I don't understand it. I can't even comprehend it.

Q: Are you saying that this happens face-to-face with your wife and son?
CW: Oh, no, no one has the nerve to do that. Trust me, (if they said) something to my wife and son, it's coming back the other way now.

On maintaining a home in South Bend: We're so committed (to Hannah & Friends) that we're actually thinking about retiring in the house that we currently have. We might sell it or we might not sell it, but Maura and I have had this conversation because we're committed to this place being part of our legacy. It's really important to us.

We're not hypocrites when it comes to people with special abilities, or different abilities, as Maura would say. We're going to make that go. There might be a little lull in the action while we regroup, but there's no way we're not going to (make Hannah & Friends work).

There are plenty of people in the community who have been absolutely wonderful. They're not the people who every week would drive 'for sale' signs in my front lawn. I probably have about a hundred of them.

(Laughing) The problem now is that I could probably use one and I don't have one anymore. Every once in a while, I'd bring one into work. I always kept a couple of the small ones in my office. I'd like to know where the 'for sale' signs were once I got fired. That was a big disappointment.

On those who suffer: My staff, my players and their families. The people who suffer the most in all of this are these two groups. A lot of the staff will be gone and their kids will be uplifted from school, and they live these blows that are delivered. Every time there's a blow that somebody strikes out, these kids live that and our wives live that. A lot of them will be selling homes in a market that's not so great to be selling houses and moving to other places, and it's really heart-wrenching that I've disrupted their livelihoods. That's one of my deepest regrets.

The players and their families, I feel bad for them. But you're not getting rid of the players; you're getting rid of the coach. The players are resilient. Notre Dame will hire a top-notch coach, and it will be his deal then.

I want to make sure that I'm leaving Jack (Swarbrick) with all the information he needs to pass on to the next guy so that when he walks in the door, he knows where the land mines are. He knows about academics, he knows where we are in recruiting-not that he can't have his own ideas-but (I want him to know) where we are in recruiting.

Q: What are your thoughts about how the media actually covers Notre Dame?
CW: I think a lot of the media doesn't really care about Notre Dame. They care more about their story than they care about Notre Dame. I believe you five guys care about Notre Dame. You do not wish ill will on Notre Dame. I don't believe that is the case with everyone. I think too many times the media cares more about the story, and that's just starting with the local guys. The national guys are very agenda driven, as we know. Then it's just about how much notoriety can the story bring. It could be the same story, but it's how you portray the story.

There are guys that we all know that don't even want to be following Notre Dame. But because that's the assignment they have right now, they're forced to do it. There are other guys who have been following Notre Dame for a long time who are sour because they're not the man anymore. Instead, now they're going to you guys, and that really sours them. They then have an agenda, and it doesn't have to be about Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. It's just a negativity.

I've been able to fight through the negativity. But for those 18-to-23-year-old kids, it's tough for them to not feel like this black cloud is hanging over them all the time. Even when things are going good, the first time you lose a game, boom, it's back again. Or you could win a game and one guy could play crummy, and boom, it's still on them anyway.

Q: Do the players talk to you about that?
CW: I have a lot of counseling sessions with guys. But I try not to tell them what to say. I try to tell them what the red flags are and the bullet points. At the end of day, the most popular players are the ones who are going to be requested most. You have to trust the media training they've had and growing up in the system that they'll handle themselves appropriately.

On recruiting the recruits after he knew he'd be fired: I've talked to several kids, and I really can't call on the kids anymore. That would be illegal for me to call kids. If they call me I can talk to them, but I can't call them anymore because then you'd be a booster of the school, so to speak. So I can't pick up the phone and start dialing people up. When I knew where this was heading, I told them why (they should) go to Notre Dame.

On his message to the team at the banquet: (Friday) night, when I spoke at the banquet, basically my message was how a Notre Dame education set me up for success. How during my life when I went to interview for a job, it was, 'Oh, you went to Notre Dame.' That was the main message of my talk, about how important those things were in the grand scheme of things when these guys look back five, 10, 15 years from now. It won't be about 6-6; it will be about Notre Dame and how the Notre Dame education set them up to be successful in life.

I actually wanted to tell the players last Saturday night (about his firing). But because officially, we were going to rubberstamp this with Fr. John (Jenkins) Saturday night or Sunday, (I waited). I thought it would be best to let everything officially take place, and I've always been one for protocol. There's a right way and wrong way of doing things, and I thought that was the right way of doing things.

Q: What was the Board of Trustees involvement with you?
CW: I've met some of them, not many of them, with the exception of three years ago when I was doing some due diligence and was trying to find out some of the problems from the first two years. Going back to that 3-9 year, we didn't go to a bowl game, I had more time, and I met with some people, some of which were members of the Board of Trustees. I let them speak freely and took my beating like a man to find out what the issues were as they perceived them to be.

I don't know with the current state how much they influence everything. I just know there are a zillion of them. I just don't know how you could have that many people being the voice of the University. What is there, 60 of them? How can all 60 of those people really know what the issues are and what's best for the University? It's a rhetorical question because I really don't know the answer. All I know is when things are going good, you see 'em and when things are going bad, you don't. Other than Dick Nussbaum, who does some work with Hannah & Friends, I don't know if I saw one member of the Board of Trustees this year. Not one.

I don't know how much influence they had over the decision. I think Jack came down to 3-9, 7-6 and 6-6.



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