Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Tough Time For Weis Gets Tougher

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Regardless of what you think of Charlie Weis the person or the job he has done as Notre Dame's coach for the past four seasons, the latest news regarding his health merits sympathy. 

It was announced Friday night that Weis must have surgery on his right knee before he can repair his more seriously damaged left knee. Evidently, the Notre Dame coach has a torn lateral meniscus as well as an additional injury that will require doctors to shave the bone.

It's not known whether Weis also injured his right knee in the sideline collision with John Ryan during a win over Michigan on Sept. 13 or whether the damage was the result of wear and tear associated with favoring his left knee in the weeks and months since.

What it means, however, is that Weis must undergo surgery on his right knee soon enough to allow for four-to-six weeks of recovery before he undergoes a second surgery to repair his shredded left knee on Feb. 24. Then comes more weeks of recovery. In all, expect it to take six months until Weis is able to move around like he did before the Michigan game.

It has been an incredibly challenging couple of years for Weis. First came last year's 3-9 disaster followed by a busy offseason spent making decisions that he hoped would shore up the program. Then he blows out his knee, his team tanks and now it appears that it may not be until training camp rolls around again before he can walk normally.

Throw in all the criticism from media and elsewhere coupled with speculation about him being fired, and this as undoubtedly been the most difficult year of his professional life.

There are undoubtedly some deeply personal issues bubbling under the surface as well.

Weis has always battled a weight problem. The gastric bypass surgery that almost killed him in 2002 was his desperate attempt to get his weight under control. The guys on the radio making fat jokes about Charlie may not realize that this is a potential life and death issue for him and his family.


His father died after a second heart attack at 56. As a result of the disastrous gastric bypass surgery, Charlie suffered nerve damage in his feet, resulting in the feeling in his left foot being 80 percent of normal and his right foot being 50 percent. As a result, the 52-year-old has had trouble walking, jogging and playing sports even before the knee injuries.

Now, given the surgeries and long recovery time, it will be even more difficult for him to keep his weight down. He looked older and more haggard with each passing day late in the season. I wasn't at the football banquet but someone who was told me he looked as bad as they had ever seen him. This is a trying time for Weis. He faces his biggest professional challenge at a time when he can't can barely stand and/or walk. It's only going to get worse in the wake of two upcoming surgeries. 

It doesn't matter what you think of him as a coach to feel for him as a person.


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7 Comments

I can appreciate the health problems that Charlie Weis is going through but I can't forgive him for the trial he is putting us through. Surely, Coach Weis realizes that he is not the genius he told everyone he was four years ago. He has become a multi-millionaire at the expense of the Notre Dame football program and he knows that no matter how long he stays in South Bend he is just wasting time. He will not bring this program around because he simply doesn't have the tools to do so. He needs to step aside and let the incompetent Notre Dame administration try again to find a real coach before it is really too late. Notre Dame has become the laughing stock of college football. When two of the three broadcasters of the bowl forecast program picked Hawaii to win the bowl game, it came as no surprise, just another embarrassment to this once great program. Even the ND haters feel sorry for us because they really can't knock us any more... it simply isn't even a challenge.

As a 64 grad, I have seen this before. We were counted out in the early sixties until a competent administration picked a great coach who proved that it was coaching and not talent that we needed to bring us back. If they let this continue the damage may be terminal to our program. Get busy ND! Wake up and do the right thing.

Great article. I have no problem with people who hate ND football or even dislike Weis. My problem is when people choose to make fun of him because of his weight and appearance. Our Chicago media more specifically radio shows such as Waddle and Silvy and MJH on ESPN Radio love to bring this up. Bush league in my opinion.

Charlie needs to step down for health reasons. How can he expect to elevate his performance and the performance of the team when he can barely walk and won't be able to for quite some time. As far as I am concerned, this is just another reason for Charlie to step aside. If we push him harder now under current conditions it will make things worse for Charlie and the team.

And why sould anyone care since no one seams to care that in recent years over millions of people in this country who had no health problems and performed well lost their good paying jobs to China. This a situation where the ND Administration has to show both compassinate and strong leadership. After all Lou Holtz who delivered a National Championship got fired for a lot less.

The point and the perspective are well-taken, but, I'd venture to say, already taken. Sure, there are the lame-brained detractors contributing nothing to discourse (I'd venture both in the world of ND sports as well as in their own homes, in bars, at work, etc.) through their shallow, ad hominem attacks on Coach Weis, his appearance, or his family made in the same breath as complaints of performance. That said, most criticisms have been and will continue to be entirely performance-based, which a man of that status and wealth should endure (when even remotely deserved, as they have recently been) regardless of his weight, knee function, or otherwise physical condition. It's irresponsible of this author to imply that performance criticism should take a back seat to sympathy, as if fans are all confusing the ideas. Most times, for the responsible and concerned fan, performance and personal issues are mutually exclusive; that is the world of the high profile.

A very excellent story, thanks, Neil Hayes. This is an aspect ND fans need to be aware of. Judging from the traffic on the various sites, all but the worst CW critics understand that there is literally nobody that wants to do better for Irish football than Charlie. His health has always been a concern. This article brings all of that home. Maybe we can try to be less acrimonious.

Yes, it has been a difficult 2 years for him..

As an alumnus and a life long ND fan, he has tried his best to get ND back as a top program..

Unfortunately, the results haven't been there but it isn't from a lack of "want to"...I hope the surgeries go well along with the fortunes of the Football program!!

Good story, and I think we too often forget that all stories are about humans who may be having ther own personal challenges.

There is no doubt that Charlie wants what is best for his players and the school.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on December 15, 2008 7:59 AM.

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