Weis Calls Haywood's Number

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis had been thinking about relinquishing his role as the Irish play-caller for quite some time, but blindsided offensive coordinator Mike Haywood with the thought of it while the two were driving on a recent recruiting trip.

"I was concerned," Weis joked of Haywood possibly crashing the rental car in shock.

It's doubtful Haywood was the only Notre Dame coach caught off guard by Weis' decision, but heading into spring football practice, that's what will happen. Haywood will write the offensive scripts, and the rest of the offensive staff will assist in calling the offense.

Weis holds the right to interject.

One of the most respected offensive minds in the game of football today, it certainly wasn't an easy decision for the fourth-year head coach to hand over the play-calling duties.

"I'm going to try and cut the proverbial umbilical cord and try and move myself a little bit away from being the sole primary guy on the offensive staff," Weis said. His play calling helped the New England Patriots win three Super Bowls before he took over in South Bend.

"I'm trying to do this," Weis later said. "This is a tough one for me to do, but I'm trying to give them an opportunity to run the offense with me interjecting rather than me demanding and telling them everything we're going to do. So that's how we're going to run this in the spring.

"Now everyone is coaching the same positions, nothing's changing. They're all doing what they do, we're just going to try and do it with the head coach less involved. My wife knows I'm going through withdrawal on this one right here. This is really not the easiest thing but it gives us the opportunity to see if we can't be more expansive on our ideas. I think that sometimes when you have a number of good coaches you get stymied a little bit when you have a very domineering presence as the head coach that is also involved with the offense."

After talking with some current and former players, Weis said that he will now spend more time with the players, which is something he feels is something he hasn't done since he's been here. He's spent more time with the offensive coaches than the offensive players, and he would also like to interact more with the defensive players.

This start's ASAP.

"When they go workout at six o'clock Monday morning, I'm going to be in there with them and see if I can't start being more a, I wouldn't say more open, but more approachable with the players because I think that, especially the young guys, it's so intimidating, they don't know they can come in and talk about anything," Weis explained. "And I think if we're going to play a bunch of young guys, which we did last year, I think the one thing I have to do is make sure I'm more approachable. I'm going to start working on that, now that recruiting is over, start working on that on Monday."

Players on the team that were never neglected by lack of attention from Weis were the quarterbacks.

"I'll stay involved with coaching the quarterbacks," Weis stated. "I always feel my greatest strength as a football coach is developing quarterbacks. So I think that Jimmy (Clausen) and Evan (Sharpley) and now the new guy, for all those guys, I think that is the part of what I do. I think that (quarterbacks coach) Ron (Powlus) and I have already discussed this, that I will always will be part of developing that position, and I'll always be part of the development of the offense, but I don't want to pigeon hole the offensive staff."

Weis knew some changes had to be made. After two-straight BCS appearances with an explosive offense, a young Irish team suffered through a 3-9 fall, with the nation's worst offense. Weis was already heading in the direction of handing over the play-calling duties to his staff in late December. Meeting with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and some of his staff before their regular season finale against the New York Giants confirmed his decision.

"It was like I wanted somebody to help me out with this, confirm I was moving in the right direction," Weis said.

"I just felt that I had to after this past season, figure out the whole laundry list of things on and off the field I wanted to make better, and this is one of them, so this is what I'm doing.

Haywood has been Notre Dame's running backs coach since joining Weis' initial staff. Before that, he coached the running backs at Texas under Mack Brown. This will be his first time getting to be the play caller in his coaching career dating back to 1988. Instead of making suggestions, he'll now be making decisions.

"I trust Michael and the offensive staff that they'll do a good job doing it," Weis said. "If they do a good job as an offensive staff, I can do a much better job as head coach, and it gives us a much better chance of winning."

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