VETTEL: Why Weis Is Doing So Well

One of the most interesting thoughts I have heard shared in the last few days is that perhaps Florida "lost" when Urban Meyer chose the Gators over Notre Dame. That theory is based on the remarkable success Weis has had in getting the Fighting Irish to play at a much higher level in a short period of time.

And there's justification for thinking that way when you compare Florida's offensive performance at LSU to the 31 points that Notre Dame put on the board in their near-upset of top-ranked Southern Cal.

Would Florida's offense be better right now if Charley Weis were coaching Chris Leak? Absolutely. Would Florida be better off with the man coaching up in South Bend? No way.

About The Offenses

While it's easy to compare Notre Dame and Florida from the standpoint of early-season offensive performances, it really isn't valid. Charley Weis took a team running the "West Coast" offense and basically adjusted the route structure (more downfield passing) while coaching the kids at a much higher level. The improvement there is more reflective of the previous staff than it is the brilliance of Weis, although the Notre Dame boss is indisputably one of the top pro-style offensive minds on the planet. His quarterback didn't have to change his basic style of play, nor did anyone else on that side of the ball. They just went from being coached at a low level to the highest level.

To me, it is reminiscent of the Gators in '90. Steve Spurrier certainly changed the amount of time Florida spent on the passing game and dramatically altered the route structure to create more big play opportunities. You might be surprised to learn that Florida ran the ball 45 times a game in '89 and 40 times a game in '90. Sure the Gators threw a lot more, but a pocket passer remained a pocket passer. They stayed in the I-formation when they had two backs, so the transition was smoother.

By comparison Florida '05 is the most dramatic offensive transition since the Super Sophs of '69 had to run an option offense under Doug Dickey in 1970-71. Chris Leak is being asked to do things that are foreign to his nature. Wide receivers are involved in option plays and shovel passes and the offensive line has to block straight ahead, traps, pass block and more. The bottom line is, the more dramatic the change in offensive philosophy the more difficult the transition is likely to be. That is exacerbated by the fact that Leak is a less-than-ideal fit for the spread option.

Short-Term Advantage ND, Long-Term, UF

For a year or two my guess is Notre Dame will continue to benefit from the smooth transition under Weis and the advantage that comes with his NFL expertise. But what of the long run. There are several factors that convince me that Weis is much more of a risk long term and that in short time, Meyer will prove to be the better collegiate boss.

First of all, Weis, while a graduate of Notre Dame did not play college football and most of his background is in the pro game. You have to wonder how he will deal with Notre Dame's national alumni base as well as the issues surrounding recruiting. He's also used to watching video with his quarterback for several hours a day… something you can't do under NCAA guidelines.

Meyer on the other hand has a collegiate track record already. Four previous seasons of college coaching with outstanding success (39-and-8) have shown his ability to adapt and teach with both previous teams having dramatically improved offenses in year two.

But there remains one factor above all that tells me the Gators have the right guy. Charley Weis will be a prime candidate for just about every NFL job from this date forward. Sure, he can ignore the lesser lights of the NFL, but what happens when a plum job like Dallas or Washington comes open and Weis is offered a king's ransom? Most likely, he goes.

Meyer on the other hand gives every indication of being a college "lifer." Much like Ron Zook, personal relationships with players are hugely important to Meyer and that's just not the way the pro game operates. While Zooker was more the favorite uncle, Meyer's approach is that of a demanding dad. His way of insisting that his assistants know every details of their kids' lives is the type of stuff that doesn't translate to the higher level.

Florida has already endured the aggravations of having a head coach who the NFL is constantly calling about. It is to their benefit that Notre Dame; not Florida will be dealing with that in the years to come.

As a life-long Notre Dame fan, I admit I'm thrilled with the job Weis is doing and the fact that Notre Dame will be an elite job again when he takes some owner up on a mega-million dollar deal. But as a University of Florida graduate and observator (I like making up words) I like the fact that UF has a guy in house who is a pretty good bet to win close to a hundred games (if not more) in the next decade.

Keep those emails coming!

Don't forget to email me your questions and comments, but please do not include attachments! My email address is: vettel@gatorcountry.com .

I look forward to you joining me on the radio, Sunday nights from 6:00-to-8:00 on Gainesville's WSKY-FM 97.3 (877/975-9825 toll free) Have a great week.


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