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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2008

Weis gets vote of confidence; Notre Dame AD talks of future

ASSOCIATED PRESS
ND's Charlie Weis has not won most of his games, but he does graduate most of his players and recruits well, says his boss. ND's Charlie Weis has not won most of his games, but he does graduate most of his players and recruits well, says his boss.
ELAINE THOMPSON / AP Enlarge

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Charlie Weis has the backing of his boss, who insists Notre Dame football is headed in the right direction despite the team's inability to beat its best opponents.

"He's our head coach and I look forward to him being the head coach for a long time," athletic director Jack Swarbrick said yesterday.

Notre Dame fan Web sites have been deluged with people posting messages calling for Weis' firing, and newspaper columnists have been questioning whether he is capable of making the Fighting Irish national title contenders again.

Notre Dame lost for the third time in four games Saturday, falling to Boston College 17-0. The Fighting Irish have beaten only one team without a losing record, Stanford (5-5).

"I love the passion and I love that people care that much, but there's no factual predicate for any sort of discussion today. We're doing great," said Swarbrick, a Notre Dame graduate who was named athletic director in July. "You have to let the whole season play itself out and compare it to the season before."

Swarbrick said the team is significantly better than it was a year ago, when the Irish finished 3-9, and he expects they will be significantly better next season.

His comments came a day after Weis answered pointed questions from the media about the job he is doing, saying he believes he is the right man for the job.

"I'm confident that the program is going to go where we all want it to go," said Weis, in his fourth season at Notre Dame, and third year of a 10-year contract.

Weis has a record of 27-19, a .587 winning percentage just fractionally better than the .583 winning percentage his two predecessors, Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie, had. Willingham was fired after three seasons, Davie after five.

Swarbrick said every Notre Dame coach is evaluated at the end of each season.

"We sit down and say, 'How can we get better?'•" he said. "We don't engage in that process in the middle of any season."

Asked if a second straight loss this week to Navy (6-3), a team the Irish beat an NCAA-record 43 straight times before losing in triple overtime last year, or a loss to Syracuse (2-7) could change Weis' status, Swarbrick said he wasn't going to respond to hypothetical questions.

"We just don't engage in that game-to-game analysis that fans engage in. I understand why they do, that's part of what makes sports so interesting," he said. "If the New York Giants had listened to their fans in the middle of last season, they wouldn't have won a Super Bowl."

Among the areas where Weis is doing well are graduating his players and recruiting, Swarbrick said. Weis has signed three straight top-10 recruiting classes and appears headed for a fourth.

"That's one important factor, bringing in great student athletes. He's doing great job of that. Educating the kids is an important factor. Developing them as young people," Swarbrick said. "If you step back and look at all of those, there's an awful lot of great stuff going on with this program right now."

Swarbrick, formerly an Indianapolis lawyer who was instrumental in bringing numerous sporting events to the city, including the Super Bowl in 2012, said he watches Weis and his assistants at practice and he's impressed with their relationship with the players. He also said he and Weis have a strong relationship.

"We have a set meeting once a week," he said. "He couldn't be more engaged and open to soliciting my perspective and my views. It's been a great working relationship."



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