Even though the Irish fell short, playing nearly even with Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the mighty Trojans had the Notre Dame faithful hopeful they had found a coach capable of returning the program to its past glories. The Fighting Irish have won eight AP national titles, more than any other school, but none since 1988.
Yet the USC loss turned out to be the highlight of Weis’ tenure. Because it began so promisingly, Weis’ final three seasons in South Bend were especially painful for the legion of Fighting Irish supporters nationwide.
“There were a lot of expectations he didn’t live up to. He admitted to that,” said former Notre Dame wide receiver David Grimes, who played four seasons for Weis and was on campus working out Monday. “But it’s sad to see.”
With Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija and other key players gone in 2007, the Irish started 0-5 for the first time in school history. They finished 3-9, leaving Weis one loss shy of matching Davie’s school record of 16 losses in his first three seasons.
Most shocking, though, was the fact the Irish finished last in the NCAA in total offense just three years after Weis said at his introductory news conference that when it comes to X’s and O’s “we have the greatest advantage.”
The past two seasons the Irish have collapsed in November. They got off to a 5-2 start before going 1-4 down the stretch a year ago, before ending this season with four losses, none by no more than a touchdown.
“I’m disappointed,” former Notre Dame player Asaph Schwapp said. “It’s definitely sad to see. I loved being coached by him.”
Notre Dame fans who celebrated Weis’ cockiness when he was winning grew tired of his Jersey attitude when the Irish started losing, with many calling him arrogant.
His biggest failure, however, was his team’s inability to play good defense. The Irish never finished higher than 39th in the country in total defense and gave up big play after big play. Weis’ teams lost six games by 26 points or more.
The now-former coach appeared to know his firing was imminent, saying a day after the loss to Connecticut on Nov. 21 that he would have a hard time arguing against his dismissal “because 6-5 is not good enough” — an echo of his words when he took the job.
Whoever replaces Weis will be charged with ending the longest title drought in school history.
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.
Now that Notre Dame has fired Charlie Weis, take a look at some of the potential candidates to take over for the Irish.
Notre Dame's 2012 season
Check out some of the best images from Notre Dame's 2012 season.
Meet the 2012 Irish
Take a look at some of the key contributors for Notre Dame this season
2012 Notre Dame opponents
Take a look at some of the key players the Irish will face this season
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