Weis Notebook

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis sat on an airplane, flying back to South Bend when it hit him. It was plain as day. He had figured out the perfect replacement for the recently retired Bill Lewis on his coaching staff.

Jon Tenuta.

"It rattled through my mind, like God, this guy is on the street," Weis stated. The two met at January's AFCA convention. "This would be a great guy to help, and that's really how it played out."

A candidate to take several different defensive coordinator jobs across the country, Tenuta turned all those down to take a position with the Irish. The former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator, who lost his job when head coach Chan Gailey lost his, takes over for Lewis, who had to have both of his hips replaced.

Tenuta's will serve as the assistant head coach for Notre Dame, and will work primarily with the linebackers. Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown will key in on the secondary, Lewis' old post. Lewis has since taken a job with the University's athletics community relations staff.

"I think when you're losing a veteran coach like Bill, you'd better go get a veteran coach," Weis said. "When you're losing a guy with that much experience, the last thing you want to do is bring in some young guy and hang Corwin out to dry. When you're losing a veteran idea guy, I think you'd better go get a veteran idea guy, and we were fortunate for this guy to be available.

"I mean, he was rumored for about a zillion different jobs to be honest with you, and one of the reasons he was holding off all those different jobs is because this was one that looked like it was going to work."

Over the last four seasons, Tenuta's defense ranked in the top-30 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense, including 20th or higher against the run all four years.

In 2007, Georgia Tech led the nation in sacks, averaging 3.69 per game, and ranked fourth in tackles for loss per game. Tenuta's overall defense ranked 20th in the country, allowing 330.4 yards per game, and the rushing defense ranked 20th (allowing 114.5 yards).

Those numbers give Brown, who heads into his second season as a defensive coordinator, a top-notch professional to seek ideas from.

"With Jon, obviously we get an experienced coach that Corwin can lean on as an idea guy that can really help as our defense evolves and can really help our defense," Weis explained.

The big key in putting all this together, was making sure Brown and Tenuta could work together smoothly.

"It was really important, we spent an entire week, Corwin, Jon and I, round-robin conversations for an entire week," Weis said. "This wasn't like it happened in a day. We spent a week's worth of conversations going on to make sure that we could blend this, before he understood what the offer was going to be, and then it was can we all three of us mutually coexist. I think that we came up with a ringing "yes" when it was all said and done. So everyone knew how the dynamics were going to work.

***Weis admitted to screwing up special teams last season.

This year, he has decided to make Brian Polian his full-time special teams coach, a position he held his first two years in South Bend. Last season, Polian worked with the inside linebackers.

Weis has dubbed himself the assistant special teams coach, as he tries to better an area where the team has consistently struggled.

"I'm going to meet with Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech, who I think has done the best job of anyone in the country on special teams," Weis said. "I've already set up an appointment with him. I don't know whether or not I'm bringing Brian or not at that time, but I know one thing, I've got to figure out a better way of getting special teams righted, and I think he's done the best job of anyone I know in college football with special teams."

***Weis said that defensive end Derrell Hand and offensive lineman Bartley Webb have been determined to be medically incapable of further competition. The two are no longer members of the football team, but retain their scholarships.

Senior defensive tackle Pat Kuntz is not with the team this semester.

"He's not enrolled in school this semester," Weis said. "I hope he's back with us this season. Other than that, I'm limited in what I can say by federal law and University policies that protect student privacy.

The same goes for tight end Will Yeatman.

"He's in school but he's been suspended indefinitely from football for a violation of team rules," Weis said. "I hope he's back with us this season, otherwise I need to abide by student privacy laws and policies, and really that's all I can say about both the matters."

***At the AFCA convention, a rule was passed where head coaches can't hit the road recruiting during the spring.

Because of this ruling, Notre Dame, who is already having a junior day on Feb. 24, will now have one in March so Weis can personally meet more members of the class of 2009.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories