These booster club meetings aren't rocket science. Fly in, meet and greet, eat a meal and talk about the team. Portland is no different from Houston and will be no different from Ventura County, Calif. The object is twofold: get everyone excited about the coming season and help the club with fundraising.
But every so often something unique happens that makes it all worthwhile. Minutes before Weis stands to speak in Portland, a young boy with leukemia walks over and asks for an autograph. Weis pulls him aside for a few minutes but won't reveal their conversation. As Weis walks to the stage, the boy's mother says, "He didn't tell me what he said ... but he asked how I was holding up. No one ever asks about me."
Later, when asked again about the meeting, Weis says, "The last thing I want is for this story to come off as self-serving. I have faults just like everyone else."
He's arrogant and says things most coaches won't. Some call it hubris or bravado; others call it confidence. When Weis first arrived at Notre Dame he promised his players they'd have a decided schematic advantage because of the guy on the sideline.
Needless to say, that didn't go over well.
"Win a championship in the college game," says one BCS coach. "Those NFL rings don't mean anything here. It's a completely different game."
On and off the field.
When Weis began this offseason of soul-searching, he sent a letter to Dr. Richard Pierce, a revered professor of history at Notre Dame who specializes in African American, urban and civil rights history and social and political protest. Weis wanted an idea of how he was perceived.
He got more than he could imagine.
Pierce relayed anecdotes from others about interactions with Weis. They talked -- "as colleagues at universities should," says Pierce -- about strengths and faults and finding ways to move on and move forward.
"Charlie didn't understand what got him in trouble were offhand comments and people's perceptions," Pierce says. "Those interactions you have with people -- be it the media, a campus police officer, a food service worker -- spread like a virus. And he had no way to combat it."
Maybe that's why after two straight BCS bowl appearances to begin his tenure at Notre Dame, one bad season raised bad feelings across campus. Or maybe those two BCS games simply hid something that was there from Day 1.
"I don't care that they said it, I care why they said it," Weis says. "If I said something to insult someone, I owe them an apology. I'm not a monster; I'm a husband and a father."
Minutes after Weis helped auction off the final prize at the Ventura County ND Club, he was given a plaque and a certificate for a week of free surfing lessons. It fell in line with the "CW" branding iron he was given in Houston and the aged bottle of Merlot in Portland.
"I don't think you're going to see me on a surfboard," Weis quipped.
The crowd ate it up. At the back of the ballroom stood Jim Clausen, father of Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen and a man who has seen his three quarterback sons all play Division I football at an elite level.
Jimmy, his youngest, easily has the most potential of the three -- and that's saying plenty considering Jim's oldest, Casey, started four years at Tennessee. Jimmy was the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2007, and early in the recruiting process, Weis asked to fly out to California to meet the family.
He was greeted by -- what else? -- more perceptions.
Hours later, Jimmy Clausen committed to Notre Dame -- five months before the start of his senior season.
"I told Charlie, 'I heard you were a pain in the ass,' " Jim Clausen says. "He looked at me and said, 'I heard the same thing about you.' We just laughed."
He's arrogant, all right.
He's human, too.
Brian Kelly hasn’t been comfortable naming a starting quarterback after the unexpected exit of Everett Golson, but Keith Arnold writes that Kelly has made a final decision and Tommy Rees will be the Irish starting quarterback, at least heading into fall camp.
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