Charlie Weis Is NOT Ty Willingham

While doing my usual ND Football blog run today an ESPN article was linked in which our new AD gave Charlie Weis his vote of confidence. The article itself isn’t what I want to address, but the video attached to it in which Pat Forde and Gene Wojciechowski are asked to grade and evaluate Charlie Weis and said comments. And yet again, they choose to fuel the ridiculous fire that Ty was given a “raw deal” and Charlie Weis is being given “the benefit of the doubt” because we gave him a large contract and are tied down to him. They again wish to claim that if we held the two to the same standard that Weis should be fired.

How in the world people still spew out and buy into this line of thinking is beyond me.

Fine let’s put the two to the same standard. Ty was fired for two reasons: continued declining performance on the field and lack of solid recruiting. Basically, we were convinced that he wasn’t putting the program in the right direction, otherwise known as, he was driving ND into the damned ground.

So let’s compare the two and see how they stack up on this standard. Below is a table comparing both win/loss records and the recruiting class rank that each was able to put together for the next year. We will use three years to hold the two to the standard ESPN wants us to.

Ty Willingham

2002: Record – 10-3, Gator Bowl Loss, 2003 Recruiting Class Rank – 12
2003: Record – 5-7, No Bowl Birth, 2004 Recruiting Class Rank – 32
2004*: Record – 6-5, Insight Bowl Birth, 2005 Recruiting Class Rank – 40

*Note: Ty was fired before the Insight Bowl loss, the Irish lost that game and finished 6-6. Weis also officially completed the recruiting class; however, these were the guys Ty went after. With this in mind, I will not give Ty the Insight Bowl loss and give him “credit” for the 2005 Recruiting Class.

Totals
Record: 21-15
Bowl Births: 2
Bowl Record: 0-1
BCS Births: 0
Avg Recruiting Rank: 28

Charlie Weis

2005: Record – 9-3, Fiesta Bowl Loss, 2006 Recruiting Class Rank – 8
2006: Record – 10-3, Sugar Bowl Loss, 2007 Recruiting Class Rank – 8
2007: Record – 3-9, No Bowl Birth, 2008 Recruiting Class Rank – 2

Totals
Record: 22-15
Bowl Births: 2
Bowl Record: 0-2
BCS Births: 2
Avg Recruiting Rank: 6

So based on this standard, which coach are you going to hold on to after three years? ESPN loves to say “Hey, look the win/loss records are similar!”. What they, and everyone that wishes to continue to criticize ND for the Ty Situation fail to mention is the horrible recruiting Ty did. He had only one class in the top 25, and that was in his one good season with ND.

Also, you have to look at progression in both categories. Ty got worse every single year. Weis has only had one bad year in record, but despite that, he put together the best recruiting class that he has had to date. Furthermore, he hasn’t had a single class outside of the top 10.

Now, I am not saying Weis doesn’t deserve some heat. If you go 3-9 at Notre Dame, you better receive it, especially when you toted around “9-3 is not good enough” two seasons prior. Coming off the heels of two very disappointing losses with such a season still fresh in the memory of ND fans, you can bet that heat will pick up.

Let’s get the notion of firing Weis out of our heads please for at least this season. There is no way that you are going to fire a coach that had one horrible season, improved the team’s record immediately the following season (again, it is some improvement), and is still looking to put together another top 10 recruiting class (currently, ND is ranked 8 in the nation) despite everything.

Last season pushed Weis towards the hot-seat and this season has planted him firmly on it. Now, if we are in this same spot next season, mediocrity is NO excuse for Weis. Every last bit of next year’s team will be Weis’ recruits and our team will be filled with four consecutive top 10 ranked classes. Our young players will have gotten their experience. Clausen will be pushed by the now red-shirtless Dayne Crist — there is a lot to be said for the intensitity you play with when you know you can easily be replaced in a heartbeat. The defense will have a year’s experience with the blitz-happy tendancies of Tenuta. If ND can’t get at the very least, a major bowl birth and consistently stay in the top 25, then it is obvious that Weis is a great recruiter, solid offensive mind, but not a good head coach.

Let’s wait, however, until we get to that point.