Report: Notre Dame to introduce Weis tomorrow

Patriots' offensive boss to get six-year contract


December 12, 2004|By Avani Patel | Avani Patel,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

CHICAGO - Notre Dame's coaching search is finally over. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will be introduced as the new Irish football coach tomorrow at a news conference in South Bend, Ind.

According to a source with knowledge of the proceedings, Weis agreed yesterday to a six-year contract worth roughly $2 million a year. He will fly into South Bend late this evening, after the Patriots game with the Cincinnati Bengals in Foxboro, Mass., when he will address the Irish players at a team meeting.

Weis' hiring is effective immediately, but he his move to South Bend may not be complete until February.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday that even if Weis were hired by Notre Dame, he expected Weis to fulfill his duties with New England, which is 11-1 and seems headed for a long run through the NFL playoffs.

Weis has told sources that he has almost an entire staff ready to go, a staff that will be charged with handling the recruiting duties while Weis fulfills his contract, which runs through the end of the current NFL season, with the Patriots.

Notre Dame, according to a source, called Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Tom Clements yesterday morning and told him that he was no longer being considered for the job.

The other man considered a finalist for the position was Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, but according to several NFL sources, Blache contacted Notre Dame officials either late Friday or early yesterday morning and told them he preferred to stay in the NFL.

That left the seven-member search committee - the same group of men who met on the evening of Nov. 29, and made the decision to fire former coach Tyrone Willingham - to decide between Weis and Clements.

The decision in favor of Weis was, according to a source, driven by the same men who pushed for Willingham's dismissal - board of trustees president Patrick McCartan, and the incoming University president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, who will succeed the current president, the Rev. Edward A. Malloy, in July 2005.

Also on the committee were Philip Purcell, chairman of the athletics committee of the board of trustees, and four other university officials: Malloy, athletic director Kevin White, provost Nathan Hatch and executive vice president John Affleck-Graves.

Clements has a solid Notre Dame pedigree - he quarterbacked the Irish to the 1973 national championship and had the support of former Irish coach Ara Parseghian and former quarterback Joe Montana.

Weis, though, also comes from within the Notre Dame family. Although he didn't play football at Notre Dame, he did graduate from the university in 1978, making him the first alumnus to lead the program since 1963, when Hugh Devore served a one-year stint as the coach.

Weis has been coaching in the NFL since 1990, when he was on the staff of the Super Bowl champion Giants. His last stint at the college level was from 1985 to 1988, when he was an assistant with South Carolina.

Weis is widely considered an offensive mastermind who excels in player development, a man who transformed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a sixth-round pick, into a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.

Notre Dame would be Weis' first head coaching position in the college or pro ranks.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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