A lot of the players liked Willingham, but not everybody liked him; and even some who liked him realized he was failing. Then there were the assistants... many not popular with the players.
Just like Willingham got the benefit of being "Not Bob Davie" and his assistants got to be "Not Davie's assistants" for a year, Weis benefitted from being "Not Ty Willingham" and his assistants got to be "not Ty's assistants especially not Bill Diedrick" for the first year.
After the first year, the new normal sets in.
He had already quite a bit of game experience as a frosh/soph, and was ready for a breakout year. Charlie is essentially a QB coach in over his head and BQ was the perfect student.
I read a bit about it but very little from players. One training staffer I met on an airplane said Weis was "a big primma donna".
Credit to Matoria.
players on that team. Weis thought it was OK to try to play like they had typical team and not a bunch of 18 and 19 year old kids.
He should have gone very conservative. Run the ball 35 times a game. mix in play action passes and let the kids learn how to play college football.
The 2009 team is the biggest mystery. How can your QB complete more than 65% of his passes with 28 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and lose 6 games?
Sam Young was a 5 star OT out of St Thomas Aquinis High in Fort Lauderdale. He was the star of our stellar 2006 recruiting class. He beat out Tim "Fing" Tebow as the Florida player of the year. The best player in the best high school program, in the best high school football state in the nation. For all practical purposes this kid should have been all world through his college years, yet he was a mess from day one and never seemed to get much better. I blame coaching and lack of fundamentals. I checked his NFL record he's still a seldom used backup player on the worst team in the NFL. (Jacksonville) What went wrong other than Weis and his poor assistant coaches?
A backup NFL player is still one of the best football players on the planet.
That said, let's look at the numbers. According to Rivals (and I have no idea how good they are, but they're well known and easy to look up) there were 28 5* players in the country that year. Here are their top 15 with the highest level they got to:
Percy Harvin (Pro Bowl, Rookie of Year)
Andre Smith (Starting offensive tackle)
Chris (Beanie) Wells (1,000 yard rusher)
Gerald McCoy (All Pro)
Sergio Kindle (NFL special teamer)
Matthew Stafford (Pro Bowl Alternate)
Vidal Hazelton (Practice Squad)
CJ Spiller (pro bowl)
Allen Bradford (practice squad/special teams)
Mitch Mustain (starting QB...in the arena football league)
Sam Young (nfl starter)
Myron Rolle (practice squad level)
Brandon Spikes (nfl starter)
Rashad Jones (nfl starter)
Brandon Graham (nfl starter)
You get past the first few, and you get to guys who are about at Young's level - practice squad kinds of guys who might get to start a few times (as Young has done.) This is not to say that Weis got everything he could have out of young, but I tend to look at Young more along the lines of how Tex did below - it underscores the importance of 5* players because even when they "miss" they still end up useful. When you're really screwed is when the 3* players don't live up to expectations.
He may have been a "bust" relative to expectations, but he still started 50 games and was a 6th round draft pick. He was also ready to play from day 1. He may not have lived up to expectations, but he still gave ND more production than pretty much anyone else in the class.
That's how many points we scored in our 6 losses in 09.
upperclassmen at all key positions + built in energy/passion of being underdogs and getting a new chance.
Despite Weis's experience as a position coach and brief HS coaching experience, it seems that he didn't sufficiently emphasize fundamentals in the subsequent years.
Weis also lost his motivating mojo over time. Maybe the Jersey tough routine wore thin over a longer timeline with college aged players. Maybe he was impatient to backfill the holes left by Ty's recruiting.
By impatient, I mean that Weis shot for the moon instead of playing it steady (somewhat in 06, heavily in 07), hoping that his offensive schemes would mask youth or weak depth at positions. After that he just kept doubling down and it never worked. Eventually the 09 team, on paper, had no excuse losing more than 3 games and should've been a BCS squad... but obviously came well short of that.
I wonder how things would've played out if Weis inherited 4 classes with at least average (for ND) depth. Would he have been able to be a more steady hand at the wheel during '07-'08 while reloading from the Quinn era and getting his elite recruits experience? Would that have opened up more room to focus on fundamentals?
I think that hit to his knee in early 2008 really brought his energy level/mojo down. The rest of his issues were that his QB wasn't a great leader (I love Jimmy C. though), his D coordinators were dysfunctional and then so was his defense.
One theory is a little simpler than the other. QB leadership was not in the top 10 things wrong with those teams.
took a toll on his coaching abilities
guess he was taking a lot of pain meds. In retrospect, I think he should have had the surgery and coached from the press box.
And I think Willingham, perhaps unwittingly, left him some pretty good offensive talent in Quinn, Samardjiza, Walker, and Stovall. The O line was solid enough, as well.
Those guys were experienced and bought in to what Weis was selling, and they were a play or two from the championship game. I'm not so sure Texas would have spanked them, either. USC gave them a great game, and ND played with USC.
Weis' problem down the road was that he had no idea to develop anyone other than a QB. His other players didn't improve all that much. I recall scout quotes about Tate saying how raw he was coming out of ND.
And he never found a defensive coordinator that he could get along with and could do the job.
that year as an objective team (I agree with you there), considering we should have beaten the #2 team and hung pretty tough with the #3 team, but...
They would have been an absolutely terrible match up for us. Thinking of our linebackers and defensive line that year trying to chase down Vince Young all night gives me a stomach ache. We had enough trouble with a midget with a 4.8 40 in Troy Smith.
Texas may have punted fewer times than Ohio State, if that is possible.
but he did a great job completing the development of Quinn. We also had some really good OL on that team that were recruited by prior regimes and were upper classman (Levoir, Santucci, Harris, Sullivan especially. Morton was mediocre but was an upperclassman and a letterwinner prior). Top it off with upper classmen at the skill positions (Stovall, Samardzija, Fasano, and even Walker was a returning starter) and the offense was in need of someone like Weis that could come in and develop the qb and plug and play. That clown Diedrick was just so freaking awful that Weis was a huge improvement and you noticed that right away. We still had major, major holes on defense but with that upper classmen led offense we were going to be in every game.
Weis' struggles came in trying to organize recruiting and in developing talent (especially in the trenches). Those showed up later (really, starting in 2006 but obviously in 07,8, and 9).
I believe one of Weis's downfalls was failing to recognize that the NFL is more x & o driven while college football is more Jimmy & Joe. The personnel differences in the NFL are razor thin. Coaching decisions, scheme, personnel mismatches are huge factors.
Of course, these are important in college too. But I think Weis often 'out-thought' himself. I remember many times thinking to myself, 'Charlie, you have better players. Don't get cute. Just line up and overpower them.
That didn't turn out to be a question!
and their x and o genius. That might be true on occasion in the NFL (especially when you know the defensive call ahead of time) but even then it's overblown. Weis tried to be too business like on the field and his teams could never match emotion or intensity of other teams (even MSU, though they managed to come back both of the first 2 years and did pull it off in 06).
His staff was full of yes men and they didn't focus enough on player development (aside from the qb position). Now, how big of an issue was the S/C and training table stuff? S/C was likely a huge issue, but he is the one that hired that turd. Maybe nutrition was really limiting, however.
Also, I think a part of it is the type of kid that chooses ND; we talk about the 40 year decision and that's true but there is a mentality that comes with that. It's like these kids are working with a safety net--"well, if this doesn't work out I'll at least have this great degree." I think that other schools have kids that just want to play football and they're more cutthroat about it because if football doesn't work out they're looking at a shit job (at best) and often no degree. That gives these kids an edge that perhaps ND kids don't have. A master motivator like Holtz and Ara can overcome this by 1) kicking ass in recruiting and 2) setting the tone from the beginning with kids and expectations. Now with recruiting and scholarship limitations it is a bit harder but I think Kelly is making some inroads. Last years team, however, was full of fat and happy guys, especially on defense. We cannot have that again or we'll be on another coaching search soon.
his hiring of Cheerios Brown was just an awful decision that he compounded in 08 by not firing the guy and then hiring someone else basically above him in Tenuta. Brown was useless as a DC and that fucking scheme is terrible in college (I will continue to say that even if we keep insisting on running it). It was a complete mismatch for what we had on campus and they tried to square peg/round hole. Then they bring in another 4-3 guy in Tenuta and they was a division in the locker room and those guys didn't get along as well and were speaking different languages.
He just fucked everything up and then blamed everyone and everything else on his way out the door.
It might have delayed things long enough that Michigan hired BK and we wound up with Urban Meyer.
Eventually they all caught up, dare I say, schematically.
I think that the OL wasn't as good and they did a shit job of developing kids there (partially due to limitations imposed by shitty recruiting at the positions by TW and an inability to take on JC kids). By 09 we were dominating again offensively and we had studs on the outside and at qb.