"What we try to do is just get `em ready to play football... I want them ready to play football better than they played last year. That's the bottom line"
Coach Weis was specifically responding to a question at today's Media Day press conference regarding his team's offensive line, but this particular statement illustrates a universal belief – one that begins at the top, permeates throughout the coaching staff and (we were told) the players, and throughout Irish Nation.
The time for talking about standards; the time for talking about what's going to happen; and the time for talk, period, has passed for Charlie Weis and Notre Dame.
It's time to produce.
"There's a lot of things going into this year that I'd rather not say because I'd rather get it done on the field," explained Weis. "That's really one of the main deals or goals going into training camp, is, 'Fellas, don't tell me about expectations, show me.'"
Weis even channeled your average message board verbiage, tossing out phrases such as "hot air," while alluding to the familiar rhetoric of the program's recent past.
"I think when you look at development of your program, okay, where is your program going into this season? That's what we're really talking about. Where are you right now? I could sit there and tell you (what) lofty goals I have, my expectations. But guess what, it's time for us to back them up. That's what we have to do.
"The only way to back them up is by backing them up on the field," Weis continued. "There's no sense in giving a lot of hot air about these lofty expectations without going ahead and backing it up, and that's what we're going to try to do."
It's also clear that Weis has the same level of faith…and consequently, expectations, for the '09 coaching staff.
"…I think I feel very, very confident and comfortable with our coaching staff. But it's time to show me, right? It's from the head coach right on down. Let's not talk about it.
"In the past, I'd come in here, and give you a 10-minute oration on all the expectations. We're not going to do that. We're going to get out there and start getting to work. That's what we're going to do."
Talk of weight gains; captaincy candidates; impressive – or in the case of sophomore Braxton Cave's 520-pound bench press, "shocking" – off-field feats of strength this summer trickled into the Q&A…all necessary ingredients for the requisite state of the program address. But it was something on which Weis refused to elaborate, something he knew he need not explain, that Irish fans should take note this August…the football program knows it's time to answer its critics between the lines on Saturdays.
And finally, it appears, these "criticisms" of which I speak come not from those of us engrossed in the team, but from within.
After four seasons, the second-half of the Weis era may be upon us:
"It's day one. Tomorrow is the first practice. Let's not talk about expectations. It's time to put it up."
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While particular goals were not discussed, Weis did offer an explanation of where he believes the program is, and should be headed.
"I'm not going to be too vague on this one because everyone (every program at this time feels the same.)
"Notre Dame is really no different than any other program that plays Division I. The goal is to be one of those teams playing in that mix going into January. Everyone has that same goal, okay? Let's start with that premise.
"With that being said, when you're sitting there with a bunch of juniors, a bunch of seniors that have gone through the growing pains, as the program has developed the natural thing to do would be for expectations to grow ready along with them. I think that's where we are right now."
For the first half of Weis' first 2009 press conference I thought we (the media and fans) had entered the heretofore untapped "Slogan-Free Zone" for a Weis-Era August. Not quite…but if you have to have a slogan, you could do worse than the 2009 edition:
"Don't tell me about expectations, fellas, show me. Don't tell me how good we're going to be. I'm not going to tell you how good we're going to be. It's time for us to show you. That's what you want to see. That's what I want to see. I want to see the same thing."
It won't fit on a T-shirt, but he took the words right out of my mouth.