Over the weekend, one of the hot sports talk topics was where will former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis end up? Fired by the powers that be in South Bend after not living up to the lofty expectations, Weis' name has been cropping up as a potential head coach in places like Buffalo and Washington already – not to mention the handful of other head coaching jobs potentially opening at the end of the 2009 season.
One person with an intimate knowledge of the politics and pressure that are the fishbowl of Notre Dame football is Vikings center John Sullivan, who thought the rug was pulled out from under Weis much too soon. Sullivan, who was there for his greatest triumphs in 2005 and 2006 when the offense was led by quarterback Brady Quinn and playmaking wide receiver and current Major League pitcher Brett Samardzija, was also there for the worst of times in 2007. He believes Weis got a raw deal because, despite high expectations, Notre Dame wasn't that far from being a team that would have played in one of the marquee bowl games in January.
"They lost a lot of close games this year," Sullivan said. "They were really close to being the BSC team everyone thought they would be. That's why I'm not a huge fan of the decision to let him go. If four or five plays go a different way, they would playing in the BSC in a couple of weeks."
While Sullivan was there during the days that Weis was hailed as the savior of the program, he was also there when the program hit bottom in 2007. He felt his draft stock was adversely affected by the dismal 2007 season, as he was the lone senior on an offensive line in which he was flanked by two freshmen at the guard spots and tried to do more than his responsibilities called for. In hindsight, he said, he likely would have benefited by coming out as a junior, but said that his role was to help bring the program back from the ashes – a job that was easier said than done.
"When Charlie came in, we had good players," Sullivan said. "We had the one down year in 2007, but that was because we had only four fourth-year seniors. His recruiting classes are getting older. But it is what it is. You have to win while you're there and there isn't a lot of time given to rebuilding."
Sullivan said there is no reason to feel sorry for Weis. He will land on his feet because he is an innovative football mind and there is always room for people like that in any organization. Although he believes his alma mater made a mistake in pulling the plug on Weis so quickly, especially given that the team had showed marked improvement over the last two seasons, he said, in the end, both Weis and the Fighting Irish will move on and seek their fortunes elsewhere.
"They made the decision," Sullivan said of the Notre Dame athletic department's decision to fire Weis. "There isn't much that can be done about it. They're going to hire a new coach and Charlie will move on and be successful wherever he goes. I learned a lot from him and will be happy for him wherever he ends up."
Sullivan supports Weis
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