Charlie Weis announced two important decisions Friday; one professional, the other personal. The first was Charlie's choice to abdicate his role as offensive play-caller to be a better overall leader. The second was to publicly decry ESPN host Dana Jacobson's drunken diatribe (which included such ungodly slurs as "F*** Notre Dame," and "F*** Jesus") that occurred at a roast for Mike Golic (former ND football student and current ESPN commentator) that Weis attended.
First, the football news. While Weis has commonly been called by sportswriters an "offensive guru," and did concur somewhat with this sentiment by admitting Friday, "play-calling is my greatest strength," he later elaborated. "But ... I'm also the head coach. And when you're play-calling an offense, you might not necessarily be the best head coach." Indeed, Weis found this out the hard way last season, as not only did the best plays flounder when players fail to block or drop balls, but when the defense and special teams also spin out of control, as merely an offensive play-caller, there's little you can do about it. And, even in his first two seasons, when Charlie had the horses to turn the Irish into a top ten offense, the other two facets of his football team lagged too far behind for Notre Dame to be a serious title contender.
Sure it is a gamble. Certainly critics will say that Charlie, by giving up his greatest strength, will no longer be able to mold average college quarterbacks and receivers such as Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija into NFL caliber players, and the Notre Dame passing game will go back down the toilet too. And yet, maybe a man like Weis knows that mentoring young men can be done in other ways besides being a "quarterback caddy," and has come to see that total team inspiration is more important than personal offensive innovation.
Weis also took a more personal leadership role by finally speaking out about the "Dana Debacle" publically for the first time. "How did I feel about her comments? I was both personally and professionally offended," Weis said before adding, "And if the situation were reversed, and that were me saying them, two things would have happened. I would have been the lead story on SportsCenter, and I would have been fired."
Now Weis' statements, though not exactly earth shattering, are more important than they initially appear. First of all, while Notre Dame officially for the most part took the ESPN rout and tried to lay these statements to rest, Weis' quotes will again dig this demon up for several more days of heated discussion. More importantly, Weis is not only sacrificing his strength to become more of a leader for the whole football team, but by speaking out on Jacobson, he is now using his leadership role as football coach for the university as a whole as well. For if Rick Majerus' negative "personal" public pro-choice stance cannot but reflect negatively upon St. Louis University, Weis' positive personal stance in defense of Our Lady's (and Her Son's) name will only reflect positively on Notre Dame. If Charlie has the right to take out a player who gives anything less than his best effort for the Irish, he is a right-headed leader to call on the carpet anyone who mocks Our Blessed Mother's school. Well done, Coach Weis! Whatever else the 2008 season holds, know that you have gotten off to a wonderful start.