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The Genius Regroups

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The initial hype about Charlie Weis' "genius" as a playcaller - built mainly on a long list of praise from his NFL days and better-than-expected afternoons against Michigan and USC in 2005 - was overstated at the beginning and quickly buried under an avalanche of anti-ND scorn and Photoshopped mockery, aided by his team's consistent ineptitude against anyone with a pulse. Including its loss in the "Bush Push" game, ND is one for its last seven against ranked teams, with an average margin of 17 points, and in three years under Weis has defeated exactly one team that finished in the mainstream polls (Penn State in 2006, which itself defeated one winning team that regular season - Purdue, which beat zero winning teams - and didn't sneak into the bottom of the rankings until after the bowl game). The gap is obvious:

Notre Dame Offense 2005-07
Record Pts./Game Yds./Game Yds./Play Avg. MOV
vs. Teams w/ < 7 wins 17-5 32.8 408.1 5.5 + 10.7
vs. Teams w/ >8 wins 3-10 18.7 295.2 4.2 -13.2

Service academies w/ 8+ wins are included in the 7-win category, to avoid distortion.
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Since general opinion has shifted from "genius" to "fraud" (or, I dunno, "the worst football coach in the universe"), the only shock in the news that Weis will hand over playcalling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Haywood (previously known as "offensive coordinator" Mike Haywood) is that Weis' staggering ego will allow it. Sort of:

The Notre Dame fourth-year head football coach announced Friday he will be relinquishing his offensive play-calling duties -- reluctantly, begrudgingly but decidedly. All of which means Irish assistant coach Mike Haywood is no longer offensive coordinator in name only.

"We were on the road recruiting when I first said that this is the direction I might be heading, and he was driving at the time," Weis said of Haywood. "And I was concerned."

Concerned that the shock might send the car careening into a ditch, not that Haywood wasn't capable or ready for the leap.

"I don't want to do this expecting failure," Weis said, whose offensive prowess with the New England Patriots helped land him the ND job in December of 2004.

"I'm doing this to better the program, with confidence in my assistant coaches and expecting success. I want to be more involved with the entire team. Even if you've identified your greatest strength as an offensive play-caller, I don't think that necessarily in the long run puts you in the position to be the best head coach."
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[emphasis added]

Quite an expression of humility and optimism, coach.

Actually, there's no way I can criticize Weis' last statement about becoming an effective head coach. Not only do the numbers indicate his playcalling prowess is as much a matter of opinion (largely his own) as reality, but last March, a note in a South Bend Tribune report (no longer available online) on Demetrius Jones' competition for the starting job caught my eye:

And bracing for higher doses of ND third-year head coach Charlie Weis' sometimes-abrasive, always-direct New Jersey rhetoric.

"Remember now, I wasn't coaching Demetrius or Zach very often (last year) or even Evan," said Weis, who spent 19 of his 20 NCAA-allotted hours per week with Quinn. "So I think it would be premature at this point other than the fact that you like what you see athletically. You like the athleticism.

"Now it's different when (Jones) is in the classroom and I'm running the class."
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Here's the plan: turn into Brady Quinn, you bum! On two.
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Tribune beat writer Eric Hansen confirmed for me that this was true: Weis spent virtually all of his limited personal contact time with the starting quarterback(s) and let his position coaches handle the rest. This is not tenable for a head coach who has to rally the entire team, and his commitment to the rest of the roster as a whole may be the smartest decision "The Genius" has made (except that one fake punt against Penn State, which was sweet).

Other staff shake-ups this weekend: Washington, less than six months removed from destroying Syracuse's offense with what would become the worst-ranked defense in the Pac Ten, hired the Orange's offensive coordinator, Brian White, who had been fired in December for guiding the lowest-scoring, lowest-gaining unit in the Big East for the third consecutive year. At least he'll only handle tight ends in Seattle, or possibly running backs. ... Syracuse also lost its defensive coordinator, Steve Russ, who parlayed his oversight of the worst defense in the Big East into a job with Wake Forest. ... Florida added ex-Iowa State boss Dan McCarney, who will probably replace NFL-bound Greg Mattison as the defensive line coach. ... Looooong-time pro coach Ron Lynn will head the defense at Stanford, replacing Michigan-bound Steve Shafer. ... Colorado assistant Brian Cabral has never been as shocked in his life as he was when Dan Hawkins promoted him to assistant head coach. ... And amid an NCAA probe into academic fraud, Rocky Long promoted cornerbacks coach Troy Reffett to defensive coordinator and denied outgoing Osia Lewis' defection to UTEP had any connection to the investigation.