One of the most embarrassing chapters in Notre Dame’s recent football history has finally ended with their last buyout check to former coach Charlie Weis. Weis coached the Fighting Irish from 2005 to 2009, going 35-27, which at most other schools is pretty good, not Notre Dame though a school with 11 National Championships in football, although none since 1988. Weis has been paid a whopping 18.97 Million since he was fired by the Irish, during which time the former Offensive Coordinator of the New England Patriots and four-time Super Bowl Champion (he won as an assistant in 1990 with the New York Giants as well) has worked at the University of Florida, and had an abysmal run as Head Coach of the University of Kansas where he went an atrocious 6-22 including just 1-18 in Big 12 Conference games and that tenure as head coach ended with Kansas paying him over five million to go away as well (Notre Dame is Independent so, therefore, they have no in-conference record). Low-lights of Weis’ tenure at South Bend included the first 0-5 start in the over 100 year-long history of Notre Dame Football, losing to Navy in 2007, the first time since 1963, when Navy had future Professional Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach taking snaps at Quarterback for the Midshipmen.
Weis’ buyout is not the most expensive in the history of College Football as coach buyouts are ballooning to stratospheric levels, as coach salaries continue to grow but it is one of the most notorious, and it underlines the potential problems that can arise when a coach is offered a huge contract after a couple of good seasons. Succeeding once in college football (whether success is defined as finishing eligible for a Bowl game or in the case of Notre Dame winning or competing for National Championships) is difficult but in order to do it repeatedly, coaches must continue to draw top level talent and develop it accordingly, and Weis will forever serve as a cautionary tale about the weight of expectations in one of America’s most popular amateur sports.