Monday, November 9, 2009

A College Coaching Internship

Maybe that billboard was right after all.
"Best Wishes to Charlie Weis in the 5th Year of His College Coaching Internship."
Don't get me wrong. Charlie Weis can recruit with the best of them. He pulled a No.1 quarterback out of California and away from USC. He pulled the most highly touted defensive recruit in recent memory from Hawaii and away from those schools out west, so much closer to home. He has a knack for taking unheralded athletes and turning them into every-down big-play threats (see: Golden Tate, Theo Riddick).
He is an offensive genius and a quarterbacks guru. His athletes allow him his promised "schematic advantage" (though not so much in red zone situations). In his first year of coaching he had Brady Quinn, Rhema McKnight, Maurice Stovall, and Jeff Samardzija - juniors and seniors leading a classic Weis offense: a high powered passing attack, an example for what passing offenses want to be.
And looking back at that set of players, times in South Bend are eerily similar now: Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, and Robby Parris. An offense of juniors and one senior, with a sophomore thrown into the mix, again leading one of the nation's most dynamic passing attacks.
But three losses later, this offense is not getting the attention or hype it deserves for just how great it is. You see Clausen throwing for 450+ yards and a couple of scores, you think thats a recipe for victory. Floyd and Tate each over 100 yards receiving, delivering like the best WR duo in the nation should. But it was not enough.
To me, this comes back on Weis. He takes responsibility for each loss, and that's nice, but eventually that gets worn out (just like my heart in every close game that should not be close). We can all second guess and shout about the plays he should have called in the red zone, but that's not the point. The point is this: Charlie Weis is not suited to coach a bunch of young men who are still learning and growing. He wants to have the perfect offense and to not worry about the defense. They have a bunch of those guys in the NFL. They are called offensive coordinators. They are not head coaches at the college level.
He has virtually no input with the defensive side of the ball. He leaves everything to John Tenuta and Corwin Brown. Usually, that's really not a big issue. Plenty of head coaches focus on one side of the ball. But a great head coach (which is the only level accepted at ND) is not completely absent from dealings with the other parts of the team. Weis will talk about Manti Te'o, and he will talk about defensive struggles, but he really has no input during the game.
If he is not involved during the game with a particular aspect, he still needs to be sure it is getting done. Nothing against the players, but it is not getting done. He needs to be able to relate to every player on the team as head coach. Weis relates to Clausen. He has a one tract mind.
Lets look at another offensive-minded head coach: Brian Kelly at the University of Cincinnati (he is on my mind as a HEAD COACH for a reason *hint*).
He has one of the best teams in the nation. They overachieve because he expects it from everyone on the team, not just his quarterbacks and receivers. His team won the Big East championship last year and had a defense loaded with seniors. Ten replaced defensive starters and one year later, and the defense is still one of the best out there. This is because of great coaching. Kelly knew the defense needed a change after losing so much talent (4 defensive players taken in NFL draft in 2009) so he replaced his D-Coordinator and changed the defense's scheme. He saw a defensive problem and fixed it, despite the fact that he is an offensive mastermind. He is not one sided. He is a HEAD COACH.
Charlie Weis, you had a good run and seemed to learn a lot from your internship. But you should realize you are not cut out for it. Hey, that's what an internship is for, right? Experience and testing the waters in a professional setting? You brought in stellar athletes, reached BCS bowls in your first two years as a "head coach" and even put the program on your back after a 3-9 season. You carried it through to better times.
But in your internship, you should make a life decision for your professional future. You are an offensive coordinator, a man with a brilliant offensive mind. You are not the head coach Notre Dame needs.
The NFL is calling you home.

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