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NOTRE DAME Charlie Weis makes good first impression



Published: Tue, February 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



He expects to win, but refuses to lay out a timetable.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- With a cup of coffee in his hand, new coach Charlie Weis walked into the Joyce Center to a standing ovation.

It was 6 a.m., and 200 students showed up before classes for a lesson on what life will be like on football weekends now that Weis is in charge.

Only about two dozen students were expected, but the large turnout forced the talk to be moved to Notre Dame's basketball arena.

Weis spent 40 minutes telling students what he expects of them -- cheer loud when the Irish play defense and tone it down when they play offense. He also told them to refrain from excuses for losses, such as a tough schedule or tough academic standards.

"You don't sit there and make a whole bunch of excuses," he said as he began his first full day of work. "Walking in the door, there's too many excuses."

Weis said he expects to win, but refused to lay out a timetable. All he would say is that it is "sooner than a lot of people think."

Must raise expectations

It might have to be since predecessor Tyrone Willingham was fired after just three seasons.

"We're not going to be a 6-6 team here very long," Weis said. "I don't know if it's going to be done in one year. I don't know if it's going to be done in three years. But I can tell you one thing, every week we're going to be competitive."

Weis said it's essential to raise expectations at the school so the Irish can become a football power again.

"I'm 48 years old, I've never been in a program that's lost," he said. "Every where I've been, we've won. It hasn't been because of me. But I've been part of the reason we've won."

Schedule changes in the works could help, too. The Irish already planned to add a seventh home game, and are now considering dropping a road game in favor of one at a neutral site. Also being considered is a game each season against a Big East Conference opponent. The Irish are in the Big East in basketball.

Weis was New England's offensive coordinator for the Patriots' recent Super Bowl victory, so he still doesn't know all of his new players even though he was hired two months ago. He's using a picture chart to link names and faces.

Priorities

His first task is teaching his offense to his new assistants. Improving special teams also is a priority.

"I thought special teams here stunk," Weis said. "So all the front line players, they're all playing special teams.

Weis drew laughter and applause when he mentioned that USC coach Pete Carroll was a friend "but he's never really done great against me."

The two-time defending national champions have beaten Notre Dame by 31 points in each of the past three seasons. And he said they are clearly much better than the Irish.

"That's the problem," he said. "Notre Dame has got to get to the point where that's the ability of players we have here."




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