Just about everybody except the higher-ups at Notre Dame has already figured it out: Charlie Weis isn’t going to return the Fighting Irish to the top of college football anytime soon.
A loss to Navy for the second time in three years — and at home again, no less — should be proof enough. One of the cardinal sins of coaching is losing to a team with lesser talent, which Weis has committed more than once. What’s worse about this latest loss is that afterward he stubbornly insisted he wouldn’t change his approach.
Yet that’s precisely what sunk Notre Dame against Navy. Whether it was complacency or their success against the Midshipmen’s triple-option offense a year ago, the Irish began the game using the same defensive schemes and didn’t adjust until it was too late.
“I really hope this doesn’t come across wrong,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said after Saturday’s 23-21 win, “but I think the thing that helped us this year was last year, because we knew they’d line up the same way.”
Notre Dame nose guard Ian Williams said much the same thing, which still had Weis fuming a day later. At his news conference Sunday, he pointed out that safety Kyle McCarthy said Navy’s success wasn’t the result of the Irish scheme. Then Weis added, “There’s a reason why one guy’s a captain and one guy’s not.”
Never mind that ripping one of your own players for stating the obvious is a low blow, or even that McCarthy, too, conceded the Irish “just tried to do the same stuff as we did last year.”
Turns out Weis was just getting warmed up.
“The whole theme this week is going to be about accountability and dependability,” he said, looking ahead to next Saturday’s game at No. 8 Pitt. “I can authoritatively get in front of these guys and say, ‘OK, we want to talk about what happened,’ and just go through the game.
“Without being just totally condescending and demeaning, let them know that — ‘You want to know why you lose? Here’s why you lose,’ and go right down the list. It’s always easy,” he added, “because I always start with me.”