Charlie Weis blames Irish failures on… overly-ambitious assistants he hired?


There have been a lot of excuses for head-coaching failures over the years, but this one may take the cake.  Hell, it may take the whole dessert cart.

In his first two seasons at Notre Dame, in 2005 and 2006 with Tyrone Willingham‘s recruits, the Irish won 19 games and appeared in a pair of BCS games.  Weis bottomed out in 2007 at 3-9, then couldn’t recover from a 13-12 mark the next two seasons as he was fired by the Irish in November of 2009.

There were many reasons for Weis’ failure in South Bend, namely that he personified the Peter Principle: a talented offensive coordinator in way over his head as a head coach.  That opinion was buttressed by his abject failure at Kansas (6-22 overall, 1-18 in Big 12 play).

Weis, though, sees his tenure underneath Touchdown Jesus differently.  Much, much differently.  From‘s account of Weis’ appearance at a Little Rock Touchdown Club event Tuesday:

Weis said his struggles at Notre Dame could be traced to the composition of his coaching staff. Three of his assistants — Michael Haywood (Miami, Ohio), Rob Ianello (Akron) and Brian Polian (Nevada) — eventually left to run their own programs.

“I hired too many people that wanted to use the school as a stepping-stone for a head coaching job,” Weis said.

What the what? Ianello didn’t land his first head-coaching job until taking over Akron shortly after Weis was fired by Notre Dame. Polian was with Weis until the firing and didn’t become the head coach at Nevada until 2013. Only Haywood actually left Weis’ staff for a head-coaching job, and even that departure came in December of 20008, after Weis’ fourth season with the Irish.

So, again, how exactly did a trio of “overly-ambitious” assistants torpedo his tenure? The only thing lamer than Weis’ 41-49 record as a head coach is his throwing those assistants under the bus and refusing to accept his own failures as the leader of a football program.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.