Dec. 12, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Charlie Weis says his job as Notre Dame's new football coach is to raise expectations and win games. It's as simple as that.

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"That's the bottom line in this business," he said Monday at his first news conference since he was hired to replace the fired Tyrone Willingham. "Graduating kids is the first and foremost thing. ... Bringing in character kids is important. But it's all about winning games. That's why there's a coaching change."

Weis signed a six-year contract that will reportedly pay him $2 million annually with the Irish Sunday night, 12 days after Willingham was fired and eight days after Notre Dame officials returned empty-handed after flying to Utah to meet with Utes coach Urban Meyer. Meyer signed with Florida instead.

Weis, the offensive coordinator for the NFL's New England Patriots and a 1978 Notre Dame graduate, is the first alumnus to coach the football team since Hugh Devore was interim coach in 1963.

"This is obviously a high profile job, but one that a long, long time ago I thought, `Wouldn't that be something?"' said Weis, who did not play college football.

Athletic director Kevin White said the school's search committee had five formal interviews and spoke with two candidates about specific details. He said Weis was the only one formally offered the position.

The 48-year-old Weis arrived at the school Sunday night, just hours after the Patriots beat Cincinnati in Foxboro, Mass. Within an hour, he met with the players.

"As I told the team, one of the problems is because expectations were not met," Weis said Monday. "You are what you are. And right now that's a 6-5 football team, and that's just not good enough. It's not good enough for me. If you think they hired me to go .500, you've got the wrong guy."

Weis told the players he'll be around as much as possible, but would be staying with the Patriots through the playoffs.

"He told us to have fun, finish things off right with our exams, have fun at the bowl game, enjoy break and come back ready to go," offensive tackle Mark LeVoir said.

Weis' hiring ended an embarrassing two weeks for the most storied program in college football.

He returns to his alma mater in the midst of what former Irish football player Dave Duerson, now a member of the school's Board of Trustees, described as great dissension.

That comment came several days after the Rev. Edward Malloy, who is retiring in June after 18 years as Notre Dame's president, said he was embarrassed that the school had fired Willingham after posting a 21-15 record over three seasons. Malloy's assistant, Chandra Johnson, the school's highest-profile black administrator, shaved her head in protest.

Willingham, who coached at Stanford before going to South Bend, returned to the Pac-10 by accepting the job at Washington on Sunday night. Willingham will match up against his former team when Notre Dame visits Seattle next Sept. 24.

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Weis has seen his stock rise with New England's success, but the Patriots' long playoff runs have hindered his attempt at a promotion. An NFL rule prohibits assistants from being hired while their teams are in the playoffs.

Weis nearly died in the summer of 2002 from complications of gastric bypass surgery, commonly known as stomach stapling. The coach said one of the reasons he underwent the procedure was to make himself more marketable to teams looking for a head coach.

He was forced to get around on a motorized chair but has since returned to full duty.

He taught and coached high school in New Jersey from 1979-84 before taking an assistant's job at South Carolina for four seasons. He returned to coaching at the high school level for one year before joining the Giants pro personnel department in 1989.

Weis was hired by the Giants as defensive assistant and assistant special teams coach in 1990, earning his first Super Bowl ring. When Ray Handley took over the Giants in 1991, he made Weis running backs coach.

Weis worked for the Patriots from 1993-96, coaching tight ends, running backs and wide receivers. In 1997, Weis was hired by New York Jets coach Bill Parcells, who asked former Giants offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt to groom Weis as the Jets' offensive coordinator. In 1998, Weis became the Jets' offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach.

Along with Weis, the Irish focused on Bills offensive coordinator and former Irish quarterback Tom Clements and Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, a former Irish assistant