LOS ANGELES – Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick had as many eyes on him as anyone in the final minutes of the game and after the game.
Swarbrick sat in the interview room during Charlie Weis' postgame press conference and took questions from reporters afterward.
Swarbrick said that the evaluation for the football program is the same as every other athletic program.
"We sit down with the sports administrators and the people involved in the sport and we review all elements of each of our sports at the end of the season and that is what we'll do," he said.
Swarbrick clarified that the process will take place before any bowl game.
"We do it with the conclusion of the regular season," he said.
Swarbrick and Weis generally meet every Monday and the athletic director initially said that would be the case this week.
"I presume we'll meet on Monday if we're both in South Bend," he said, before acknowledging that neither will be in town this Monday.
"I'm on my way to California and he's on his way recruiting so neither of us is in town this Monday," he said. "So I assume it'll be a week from Monday that we'll both be back in town."
Swarbrick was asked if he was saying that nothing would happen before that meeting took place.
"I'm saying nothing will happen until we complete the entire review of the process," he said. "If we do that in the regular course, it doesn't assume something will happen."
Weis' buyout figure has been a hot topic of discussion and Swarbrick joked that money is a factor in his decisions.
"My wife wants to buy something and money gets in the way," he said, feigning laughter. "The serious answer to your question is as a university, we make our decisions based on the best interest of the students. We do that in sports, we do that in academics, we do that in residence life. That's our first focus, what's in the best interest of the students, in this case the student-athletes."
Swarbrick had a short answer to the question of who makes the final decision.
"I review the sports programs," he said flatly.
Weis said that he is not worried about his job security.
"I'm not concerned with that right now. I'm more concerned with the health of my team, the spirit of my team," he said. "Worrying about those two aspects right there and then going on the road recruiting and make sure that we bring in another top class.
"I'm the head football coach at Notre Dame, when the time comes for someone in my career, either by my choice or their choice, they're going to tell me I'm not the head coach at Notre Dame."
WEIS OUT WITH A THUD? If this does end up being Weis' last game as the head coach of Notre Dame it is telling in many ways.
Weis' debut season is remembered most for the close 34-31 loss to USC. Then, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Irish caught up to their rival on the field. Three years later and the two programs seem about as far apart as ever.
The Trojans have now beaten the Irish seven straight times. Notre Dame's last victory over USC was a 27-16 win in 2001, Carroll's first year at USC and it is still the only time the Trojans have lost by more than a touchdown in his tenure.
Weis has never beat the Trojans and his average margin of defeat in the three games after the 2005 loss is 29.7 points. Carroll's career record at USC now stands at 86-15 while Weis' Notre Dame mark drops to 28-21. Weis has lost as many games in the last two seasons as Carroll has in eight at USC.
Weis was brought in because of his offensive abilities, but the lack of offense this year is what has him in the situation that he is in now. The Notre Dame offense has struggled this year and USC was by far the most formidable defense that it has faced, but Saturday night's outing was embarrassing.
Notre Dame was held without a first down for virtually three quarters. The Irish averaged 1.9 yards a play and finished with 91 total yards.
PLAYING FOR THEIR COACH: Jimmy Clausen said earlier in the week that he is bothered when he hears negative things said about his coach and that it gives him added motivation.
"Coach Weis is our coach and we're going to fight for him every single day, every single time we take the field whether it's in practice or in the game," Clausen said.
Clausen also took a chance to defend his coach, saying that the Irish are not as bad as their record indicates and that should not reflect on Weis.
"To be honest we're not that far away. If you see the losses that we've had, three games we had double-digit leads going into the second half," he said. "That's on the players. That's on myself and the rest of the team, that's not on the coaches, it's not on Coach Weis."
James Aldridge said that he respects the way Weis has handled everything and that he gives the team inspiration.
"We love our Coach and that's just what it is. Much respect goes to him because he's been a human dart board for who knows how long," said Aldridge. "We know as a team and as players, that's what we do, we go out and fight for our coach."
NOT SO HAPPY HOMECOMING: Clausen was looking forward to this game for a very long time, but it did not turn out the way that he envisioned.
Clausen, from nearby Westlake Village, was recruited heavily by the Trojans and has plenty of friends that play at USC, who now own major bragging rights, especially his good friend Marc Tyler. Tyler, a reserve running back who saw action late in the fourth quarter, actually finished with more yards – 58 - than his buddy Clausen.
Clausen was pressured all day and finished with just 41 passing yards, by far his worst outing of the season.
"It's disappointing. Obviously, you want to come back and have a big game and end up with a victory," he said. "It was a tough one tonight, we'll bounce back and we'll get to where they are soon."
PRE-PREGAME FIGHT: According to Kuntz, the pregame scuffle started long before what was seen on the field.
"It started right here," said Kuntz, standing just outside the Notre Dame locker room. "I was getting ready to walk out and they all stood right in front of here. They were challenging us and we stepped up to it."
Earlier in the week, Weis talked about not bringing anyone who would be intimidated and it was obvious that Kuntz was not.
"They're going to trying to bully us and we weren't standing for it. We were going to fight back just like we intended to do this game," he said. "That's what they try to do, they try to bully you and try to get in your head to start the game, but we weren't letting them do that."
HUGHES OUT FOR FIRST HALF OF BOWL: Robert Hughes was ejected from the game in the final minute for fighting with USC defensive end Mark Jackson, which will cost him the first half of whatever bowl game the Irish end up in.
"Robert gets thrown out of the game for getting punched in the face. That's a first, you get punched in the face and you get thrown out," Weis said. "Now he's going to end up losing the first half of the bowl game because when you get thrown out in the second half of a game, it costs you the first half of the next game. That really bothers me."
#1 VS. #1 A DUD: Coming into the game USC had the nation's top kickoff return unit while the Irish sported the country's top kick coverage group. But with the Irish's putrid offensive performance, the matchup of 1 vs. 1 happened just twice and Notre Dame kicker Ryan Burkhart squibbed the ball once and kicked away from Ronald Johnson on the second one.
Notre Dame is expected to finish first nationally in kickoff coverage on the year, which will be the first time in school history.
OTHER TIDBITS: The Irish suffered so many injuries during the game, Weis could not even keep up with them. Armando Allen was seen on crutches afterward and Darius Fleming played, but was in street clothes before it was over. Mike Anello left the game after the first punt. Weis said that Anello had a cracked bone in his leg... Kyle McCarthy became the first Notre Dame defensive back to reach 100 tackles in a season… USC's first-quarter touchdown was the first that Notre Dame has allowed since the Purdue game… Rob Parris did not make the trip with the team to Los Angeles, leaving Notre Dame with just three wide receivers with any meaningful experience. Notre Dame split Kyle Rudolph out a bunch with Trevor Robinson taking his place at tight end.