Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Friday, August 29, 2008

Was Tyrone Willingham held to a higher standard because of race?

August 8th the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame held their annual Media Day in South Bend. One of the first questions hurled at coach Charlie Weis was about last year’s debacle. Weiss responded, “We're not saying one word about last season. It's August 2008. There is not one word. You will not hear one word out of anyone about 2007. It's August 2008. I'll answer any questions about August 2008.”

Sorry Charlie. After the way your team performed last season you can’t get off that easy.

Notre Dame’s football program sunk to an all-time low last year under Weiss. They lost 9 games for the time in school history, dropped six home games, and got beat by a Navy team the Irish had beaten 43 consecutive times going into last year.

I found it very interesting why there weren't any questions about Weiss's job security during Media Day. Given the way the team played last season and the precedent the Irish administration set when they fired Tyrone Willingham after three seasons someone should’ve asked Weiss about his job security.

Weis was hired in 2005 to be the savior: he was supposed to right the ship Tyrone Willingham was abruptly thrown overboard from. I personally don’t believe Weiss was qualified to be head coach nor has he done a better job than the guy he replaced.

Let’s look at the facts. Weiss's record after three years is 22-15. In his first campaign in 2005 he was 9-3 followed by a 10-3 campaign but that was with many of Willingham's players. Last year he was 3-9 with his guys.

Weis’ only head coaching experience prior to being hired by the Irish was in 1989 at Franklin Township High School in New Jersey. The following year Weiss was hired by Bill Parcells as an assistant for the New York Giants and later with New York Jets.

Weis’s most noted success as a coach was with the New England Patriots from 2000-2004 where he was the offensive coordinator. But Bill Belichick was the head coach not Weis.

Unlike Weis, Willingham had six years of head coaching experience at the collegiate level. He was the top guy at Stanford from 1995-2001. Willingham also coached in the NFL under Dennis Green in Minnesota.

When the Irish finally hired Willingham in 2002 he wasn’t their first choice. George O'Leary was their guy but he fabricated his resume and he shamefully stepped down days later after accepting the job. Only then did the Irish settle on Willingham.

Willingham’s career record with Notre Dame was 21-15. In his third year the Irish went 6-5. The administration felt Willingham wasn’t performing up to expectations so he was fired.

That's very interesting. The last time I checked 6-5 was a better record than 3-9. Willingham gets fired yet Weiss is rewarded with a 10 year 30 million dollar extension for losing?

Willingham was the first African American hired as head coach of any sport in the schools history. He was also the first coach in Irish football history to be fired before his contract expired. After three years former coaches Bob Davie and Gerry Faust were 21-16 and 18-15-1 respectively yet they finished what they started.

The Irish set the precedent with respect to their standards for winning when Willingham was fired. Yet the Irish remain oddly committed to a coach who has done little to justify the contract extension he received. If you analyze the facts and look at both coaches records after three years how can anyone logically conclude Weiss is doing a better job than Willingham did?

In my opinion Willingham was held to higher standard because of his race. I also believe he was fired because of racism. All one has to do is objectively see how Willingham was treated compared to Weis after three years to see how race factored in.

For those who don’t believe race didn't play a factor in Willingham's firing how can anyone logically justify why Weiss is still coaching after going 3-9 while Willingham was canned at 6-5?

I don’t think Weiss was the right man for the Irish job nor was he qualified. Also, I don’t think he’s doing a better job than the guy he replaced.

Without question Weis should be on the hot seat. If Weis doesn’t produce big this year then his head should roll like Willingham’s did.

Wouldn’t you agree?

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