Charlie Weis is an outstanding offensive football coach and an outstanding recruiter. His track record proves that. The fact that he already has at least six offers to return to the NFL as an offensive mastermind is proof enough. But he was fired at Notre Dame because he didn't pay enough attention to defense. In the end, the oversight cost him his job.
I would argue that Notre Dame had talent on defense, contrary to what many critics have said. All of this season's losses were by seven points or fewer. But the defense was atrocious, it says here. Weis didn't leave his defense in the right hands.
Former St. Rita star Darius Fleming showed flashes. Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams were widely recruited players. Man'ti Teo was the leading defensive recruit in the nation last year. Remember, Weis stole him from USC. And linebacker Brian Smith received some All-America consideration. And several defensive backs were nationally recruited.
Please understand this about the recruiting process. Many critics now argue that Notre Dame doesn't have as much talent as Weis or Lemming or others think, that the Irish recruiting classes are overrated. But USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Florida, Alabama and Texas were recruiting the same players. If Notre Dame didn't get them, they would have signed at another elite school.
So either all of the other schools were wrong, too, or the players that committed to Notre Dame weren't developed as freshmen and sophomores.
Notre Dame's offense was high powered and productive. Weis did what he was supposed to do as offensive coordinator. And he did well in recruiting. All of the major scouting services ranked Notre Dame in the top 10-15 in recent years. I would argue that the Irish were more talented than 11 of the 12 teams they played this year.
No, critics can't point to a lack of talent. The defense was neglected. The defensive players weren't developed. You'll see talented athletes on defense next year, no matter who the new head coach is, and you'll wonder why those same players didn't perform better in 2009.
In my next blog, I'll tell you who my choice is as Notre Dame's next coach.