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Notre Dame's Charlie Weis: Why Such A Big Contract?

Monday, 5 Nov 2007 | 8:33 AM ET
Charlie Weis
Charlie Weis

Some might say that the most amazing story in college football this year is the on-field drama that is now the 1-8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. But I'd say that Notre Dame's off the field story is much more compelling. Why? Because its head coach Charlie Weis has such a big contract that it's even cost prohibitive for the most well-heeled boosters in all of college sports to buy him out should they choose to do so.

After this year, Weis has eight years and about $25 million left on his contract. That monetary amount is more than triple the amount of the largest buyout in college coaching history--the University of Louisville agreed to pay basketball coach Denny Crum $7 million over 15 years when he retired after the 2001 season.

I'm not sure what I'm more shocked about. The fact that Weis didn't even try to go for a field goal at the end of regulation at the Navy game this weekend or the fact that Notre Dame has found itself in a position where it might not be able to get out of the Weis contract.

The bigger question to explore here is, what exactly did Weis do to deserve a contract that runs through the 2015 season? What happened in the marketplace to lead Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White to believe that the deal that he originally struck with Weis was no longer a good one seven games into the deal?

In 2005, Weis signed a six-year deal that would have ended in 2010. But that year, Weis quickly and unexpectedly almost beat USC, brought the team to the No. 9 ranking in the country, and seven games in, got another five years from White. What other market conditions existed? What other college teams offered? What other NFL teams called Weis' agent, Bob Lamonte? How much legitimate concern did Notre Dame have that they were going to lose their star coach?

Now, Lamonte might have done a great job and called up White and said there were offers, but they never were reported in media. And no one ever talked talked about them. No pro or college team ever acknowledged they were seriously considering Weis. Of course they weren't. It was way too early.

So again, something I guess could have happened behind closed doors that was never reported. But the only thing that ever happened was a week before Weis got his new deal, Adam Schefter of the NFL Network pointed to the fact that Weis only had a $1.5 million buyout and that one NFL team was "quietly investigating" Weis. Here's to hoping that wasn't the only "information" that led to Weis' new deal.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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