Weis gave a short introductory statement and answered questions from the media to officially kick off the fall preseason camp at the new state-of-the-art Guglielmino Athletic Complex auditorium. The press conference was a little over a half hour long but not void of any news.
Weis announced that junior safety Freddie Parish was transferring from the program and defensive end Travis Leitko would not be back with the team. Weis, refusing to elaborate on the reason for the Parish transfer, ruled out academics as the problem.
"We're in the process of getting that done right now," Weis said. "He came to me, he and I worked on this. We've been working on this together here for quite some time and I think that we have this kind of worked out. This is not an anti Notre Dame or anti Freddie Parish deal but I think it's going to work out the best for Freddie in the long run and I'll leave it at that. That's as far as I can see."
Besides the Parish announcement, a range of topics that had lingered all summer for Irish fans were discussed, some more passionately than others. Obviously at Notre Dame, the expectations are different than other college football programs. Weis made it clear that the winning is the only option.
"Mind you, the object is to win as fast as we can," Weis said. "So what you have to do, the first message that we are trying to teach the players is, you have no chance of winning if you don't believe you're going to win. You have no chance of winning. If you have games you're already thinking, well, this team is a lot better than us, you really have no chance. So when you're a football coach or a football player and if you go into a game thinking anything other than you're going to win that game, you can count on losing it."
The first opponent was on the mind of Weis as well. He made more than one mention that his only focus as of now is the Pittsburgh Panthers on September 3rd. Pitt's new head coach Dave Wannstedt, bringing with him offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. Their paths have crossed in the NFL many a times and the Irish staff will be ready.
Weis also directed praise at junior starting quarterback Brady Quinn, calling him "all day tough." Weis expects a lot out of the signal caller and sees room for improvement.
"Is he intelligent?" Weis said. "Yes. Does he have arm strength? Yes. Does he have touch? Yes. What he probably lacks is experience as far as reading coverages and really understanding schematically in my offense how plays are going to be run; in other words, where the ball is supposed to go based on what they do, and the sooner that myself and Peter Vaas and Michael Haywood can get that conveyed to Brady, I think you're go going to have a very good player."
Weis did not disappoint with the sound bites. When asked a question about toughness of the first four games, he responded with, "You sound like the alumni" and then went on to elaborate that his team would have no problem getting up for Michigan or Purdue or "the Ty Bowl" as he referred to the September 24th road trip to face former coach Tyrone Willingham's Washington Huskies. After a media member asked who would be calling the plays, Weis responded, "I'm calling the plays. That's the end of that question," drawing the biggest laughs of the day.
In an interesting and thoughtful response to a question about negative perceptions of Notre Dame, Weis stated that the team was "fractionalized" after the Tyrone Willingham firing but it appears he has mended the ship and brought back the fans.
"Then if you take on top of that, let's expand that to the alumni and all of the supporters of the program, I think that one of most challenging parts of this job walking in the door will try to get them back together and try to gain unilateral support," Weis said. "You want to know something, I think I got them back together and I think that the support teams to be pretty strong, so it comes down to how you play. And that's we've gotten past that stage now. Now we're worried about now we're worrying about just how we're going to play and that's what we're working on."
The value of special teams and the ability to spark a team has not been lost on Weis. The head coach singled out Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer for being a master of special teams and turning a team around in a hurry.
"And last but not least, okay, and we should never, ever shy away from the importance of special teams," Weis said. "And I think that's the critical factor; the easiest way to improve the fastest is on special teams, because not enough people spend enough time on special teams. And trust me, we will be spending a lot of time getting special teams ready to go. Virginia Tech, didn't take long for that team to start being more competitive, solely on the fact that they played sound defense and their special teams were kicking butt."