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Weis's New Position: Split End

He's Finishing With Patriots, Starting With Notre Dame

By Mark Schlabach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 9, 2005; Page E01

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- New Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, back on campus for the first time in a couple of weeks, walked into a room full of reporters Friday morning, took a seat behind a table and quickly laid down the law.

"Before we get going on any questions and answers, let me just clarify a couple things about how business is going to be done as far as the media goes," Weis said. "I don't want anyone any more contacting a player or a coach on your own, okay? They're all off limits. You want to interview a player or a coach, I'll be more than happy to give you permission to talk to them.

_____Charlie Weis's Week_____

• Monday: Participated in Patriots' news conference; visited tackle Brian Roche in Ramsey, N.J.

• Tuesday: Spent entire day planning for Patriots' first playoff game; called Notre Dame recruits for several hours in the evening.

• Wednesday: Spent the morning and afternoon working at Patriots' training complex; flew to South Bend, Ind.

• Thursday: Had first Notre Dame staff meeting; toured the athletic complex that is under construction; finalized recruiting weekend plans.

• Friday: Held a news conference at 8:45 a.m.; attended more staff meetings; began to welcome recruits and returning players.

• Yesterday: Held face-to-face meetings with more than a dozen recruits; attended Notre Dame's basketball game against Villanova; flew back to Massachusetts.

• Today: Will attend Patriots staff meeting at 6 a.m.; plans to watch NFL playoff games in the afternoon.

-- Mark Schlabach

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"Obviously, one of the things I've tracked in the last month, why this whole thing has gone down, we have too many team spokespeople around here, okay? The kids were put in a very uncomfortable situation of having to talk about the past staff, of having to talk about the present staff. I mean, you guys took total advantage of them, and those days are over."

Even as he is spending most of his time in Foxboro, Mass., preparing the New England Patriots' offense for their first game in the NFL playoffs next Sunday, Weis is in charge of his next challenge -- rebuilding Notre Dame's football program. And, if his media policy is any indication, Weis will use blueprints drawn by his mentors, NFL coaches Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Notre Dame will be a one-voice program -- "I don't need them speaking for me; think I can speak for myself," Weis says -- and there will be little doubt about who is running the show.

Weis, the first Notre Dame alumnus to coach the football team since 1963, hasn't coached at the college level since he was an assistant at South Carolina in 1988. He has worked the past 15 years as an assistant in the NFL, all on staffs led by Parcells or Belichick. He is quickly being brought up to speed on NCAA rules -- he returned to campus early last week to take a recruiting exam before he was allowed to go on the road -- and about Notre Dame's returning personnel, academic programs and facilities.

Weis, 48, is taking over a Notre Dame program that has had one winning season in the past four. The Fighting Irish finished 6-6 this past season after losing to Oregon State, 38-21, in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28, their seventh consecutive loss in a bowl game.

While Weis is well aware of the challenge, he told the crowd at Joyce Center at halftime of Notre Dame's basketball game against Villanova on Saturday, "Let's see if you're clapping on October 15th" after Notre Dame plays two-time defending national champion Southern California. "Between you and me, I hope they're undefeated."

"I think that any truly competitive coach has a passion to win, and until you start winning many, many games, you're going to be miserable," Weis said. "I don't like being miserable. I'm hoping it's not too long" before Notre Dame is an elite program again.

Since he was named Notre Dame's coach Dec. 12, Weis has hired his coaching staff, installed his offseason conditioning program, found schools for his children, located a home in South Bend and addressed the program's most immediate concern -- recruiting.

All the while, Weis has been preparing the Patriots for an attempt at their second consecutive Super Bowl and third championship in four seasons. Because the Patriots finished with the second-best record in the AFC at 14-2, they had a bye in the first round of the playoffs and will host the winner of a first-round game next weekend at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. If the Patriots advance to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla., Weis won't be able to spend all of his time at Notre Dame until Feb. 7 -- five days after college football's national signing day.

Weis said his work weeks with the Patriots already exceeded 100 hours, and now he's starting earlier and finishing later. He works on New England's game plans until around 9 p.m., gives his assistants enough work to keep them busy until the next day and then watches tapes of Notre Dame games and calls recruits for several hours.

"What I've done is I've had to put myself on extreme time management so that I could get everything done the same way," Weis said. "All I've done is cost myself a little sleep. But I think as far as the time management goes, I think I have it down. Now, if it had to go past February, I don't know how much longer I would make it, but I think I have it down till then."

Belichick, known as a tireless worker and demanding coach, said he has no qualms about Weis's dual roles.

"I think that Charlie has done a good job at what he's done, from the beginning of the year through the entire regular season," Belichick said at a news conference last week. "I think he's done an outstanding job. It was our most productive year offensively since I've been here, by far, and one of the most productive years in the history of the franchise."

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