NewsCenter 16 sports director Jeff Jeffers was the only broadcast reporter to sit down with former Irish head coach Charlie Weis for an expansive interview session of over 90 minutes on Saturday. Here is some of what Weis had to say on a variety of subjects:
On when he knew the end was happening:
“I felt that when we lost to Navy that that did not bode well for where this was headed. I still felt that we had time to resolve the issues, but I thought that was a bad loss, especially since we didn’t punt the ball the whole day. When you don’t punt the whole day, you don’t think you’d be in that situation.
But the Monday after the Connecticut game, it was over, and it was not a bad conversation. Jack (Swarbrick) and I just sat down, closed the door, and I said, ‘Look it, we’re grown men here. Where are we?’ And we agreed to where this was headed. It was Thanksgiving week. I did not talk to any of the assistants about it because I felt that it would distract them from getting ready for Stanford, and I thought the best thing to do was not say one word to them. Then on Friday morning, I told all those guys where this was heading. I didn’t talk to the team until last night at the banquet.”
On if and when he'll talk with his successor:
"I will be available if that person wants to talk to me. I'd be happy to answer any questions that he'd have. I'd be happy to do it and I wouldn't offer things on my own; I'd just answer questions that he'd have, because it's his deal, not my deal. I want Notre Dame to be successful. If Notre Dame goes and wins them all next year, everyone could say, 'now that they've got a real coach we can win games.' you want to know something that's fine by me, just as long as these kids here are successful.
I'm not rooting against Notre Dame. That's the problem in the coaching profession. That's why (Bill) Belichick and I are like this (Weis held up fingers together). The reason why Belichick and I are like this is when I left; I wanted him to better than when I was there....We've never been closer because I've stuck by him...
When I leave here, I'm not going to be rooting for them to lose, for (the new coach) to do worse than me so everyone says, 'I wish they would have kept Weis.' I wish they would have kept Weis. I wish they would have kept me. I really wish we would have won, but we didn't. So I don't want the next guy to come in and feel like I'm hanging over his shoulder. Nothing would please me more than for me to be sacrificed to have this ominous could lifted off of this program so the sun could shine through and we could actually move this in the right direction.
On Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick:
"I have no animosity toward him. He made a business decision of which I have no ill will...."I would have liked an opportunity to continue, I understand why he did what he did...Based on wins and losses on the field, I understand why he did."
On the effect of his firing on his coaching staff:
"A lot of the staff will be gone. Their kids will be uplifted from school and they live these blows that are delivered. Every time there is a blow that someone strikes against our football team, their kids feel that. Their wives feel that."
On his players:
"You're not getting rid of the players; you're getting rid of the coach. The players are resilient.”
On his replacement:
"Notre Dame will hire a top-notch coach. It'll be his deal then and what I don't want to be doin' (and I said this very clearly in a lot of my last conversations with Jack). I want to make sure I'm leaving Jack with all the information he needs to pass [on to] the next guy. So when he walks in the door he knows where the landmines are. He knows about academics; he knows about where we are in recruiting. Not that he can't have his own ideas."
Message to his team:
"Basically how a Notre Dame education set me up for success (Weis is a 1978 ND graduate). [During] my life, every time I went to interview for a job, it was, oh you went to Notre Dame, oh you went to Notre Dame, oh you went to Notre Dame....That was my message...It wasn't about being 6-6, it's about a Notre Dame education."
On not meeting the media after the Stanford game:
"If we lost the game, I didn't want the media circus to continue. I told Jack (Swarbrick), I told Bill (Scholl, athletic department liaison for football), this wasn't that just snuck up on everyone, so that it wasn't like after the game, ‘Weis decides not to do media’. This was very thought-out, the way I do things. The way it came across to some people was that I wouldn't step up to the microphone one last time which is never been my problem...I clearly stated on Friday that this was not going to be a Weis media circus...They all knew on Friday that I was not doing media on Saturday. There were no miscommunications."
Biggest problem on Notre Dame's campus:
"Oh, it's Residence Life (the disciplinary arm of the office of Student Affairs), it's not even close for second...I didn't even know Residence Life existed when I went to school...I think if you took a poll of the students at Notre Dame on what's the biggest negative issue, I would bet at least 50 per cent of them would say Residence Life...Without getting into the names of people who work at Residence Life...I just think that, not understanding all the principles of du Lac (student conduct manual) and everything else: I just think that these are college kids and college kids do what college kids do...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...? I'm just saying that boys will be boys and I'm just defending them; we as parents know what we interpret with our own kids what is out of line, and we all wish the best but we know our kids are going to be in trouble in their lifetime -- but there are so many things that I think border on petty."
On the media that covers Notre Dame football:
"I think that the media who really cares about Notre Dame, you see I don't think a lot of the media cares about Notre Dame. They care more about their story...I think if they care about Notre Dame....I believe that you guys right now, you five guys care about Notre Dame (Jeff Jeffers (WNDU, Tim Prister (Irish Illustrated), Mike Frank (Irish Sports Daily), Ryan O'Leary (Blue and Gold Illustrated) and Eric Hansen (South Bend Tribune). You do not wish ill will on Notre Dame. I don't believe that's the case with everyone. I think too many times the media is about the story and that's just starting with the local guys. Now the national guys, there very agenda driven as we know...It could be the same story but it's about how you portray the story...There's guys that we all know that don't even want to follow Notre Dame...I've been able to fight through the negativity but you know, those 18-22 year old kids that'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, BOOM! - it's still there anyway."
Why he was fired:
"I think it came down to 3-9, 7-6, 6-6. I think that's what it came down to.
On the Michiana community/Hannah and Friends:
"We're committed to this community to keep Hannah and Friends working. That's why we're here right now...We're committed so much that we're thinking about retiring in the current house that we have. That's one of the things that we're talking about. Now we might sell it, we might not. 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 hypocritical when it comes to people with special abilities or different abilities as Maura would say. We're gonna make that go...There's been plenty of people in the community that have been absolutely wonderful. There not the people who every week would drive "For Sale" signs in my front yard. I probably have about a hundred of them and you know what the problem is? Now I could use them and I don't have them anymore (Laughter)! Every now and then I'll bring one into Bill Scholl's office and just slap one in there. I always kept a couple in my office.
On his visibility:
"I went to Martin's (local grocery chain in Michiana) yesterday. I'm not going into hiding. We went to Yesterday's for dinner last night because we love the place... We're going to dinner tonight (Saturday). We’re not going to go into hiding. Charlie's getting confirmed tomorrow, he's hasn't been confirmed yet....over by Father Doyle and the bishop. Just because we got let go as the football coach at Notre Dame; we're not going to forget why we're here. Now with all the positives I could say, there are some bad people. That's just the way life is...There's a lot of people who say a lot of things that are just nasty and totally untrue...I just don't' understand...Every one of you guys has heard stories about me that have absolutely have no truth to them. You have stories that do have truth to them. I'm not saying that I'm a saint; that I'm perfect but why do people just arbitrarily just say stuff? I just don't get it."
On his future in coaching:
"I'm going to coach in the NFL next year. I have no idea for who. All those stories that there have been 100 teams that have contacted me; that's a bunch of garbage. First of all I wouldn't talk to anyone until after I was fired...(at this point, Weis' phone rang with Jon Bon Jovi's 'Livin on a Prayer as the ring tone. The call was from Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees).
Weis said he'll coach on Sundays but won't make a quick decision until "after the dust settles."
On comments from fans on websites:
"When people say things are not based on fact, they are come back to your family. They all come back. As hardened as I am, as many blows as I've taken which we all know, is a very, very large number, I'm still standing...They didn't beat me down. OK, but they beat my wife down, they beat my son down. Hannah doesn't know. Hannah doesn't know she doesn't know. So they didn't beat her down. The pain that Maura went through, the pain that Charlie went through. I'll never forgive them.”
On comments to Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate:
“I think they’ll both let you know pretty quickly. They’re visiting with their families this weekend. I’ve visited with Jimmy privately and I’ve visited with him and his family. I’ve visited Golden privately and I’ve visited with Golden and his family. I think they’ll talk this weekend. They were in here for the banquet. Now that there’s not a bowl game, I would encourage them to let everyone know at the university and let everyone know expeditiously what their plans are so everyone can move forward one way or another.
On the difference between who he is and the perception of who he is:
“Let’s rephrase that question. Let’s make it this question: What’s my reaction to the perception of me as a person? Those clips of me yelling at the officials from the sideline. Those are deserved. That’s one. Probably the biggest mistake I made that caused this problem was “60 Minutes.” The intent of what I felt “60 Minutes” was trying to do, and I believed the intent was right, but it certainly did not work out the way I had intended it to work out.
There was a lot of good stuff in there that just never made it in there. There was tons of stuff, tons more. The reason to do it was to show off the football coach when you’re not a football coach. That was the reason I was willing to do it. I was willing to do it for Hannah & Friends, and it didn’t turn out that way.”
“Let me just wrap up with this. I ask this one thing of all five of you. As I answered this Q&A as honestly as I possibly could, I want to thank you guys for being fair. But I ask this because it’s really important to me. I’m not looking for you to make me into something I’m not. But this is very important to me because I a man of high integrity. However you present this, I want to be somebody who cares about the community, cares about Hannah & Friends, and understands the fact that I’m gone because of my record and I want something negative that happened here to turn into something positive.”