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Notre Dame And Charlie Weis: No Way (Buy) Out?

Tuesday, 25 Nov 2008 | 11:31 AM ET
Charlie Weis
Charlie Weis

Charlie Weis is in trouble again. His Notre Dame team lost to a horrendous Syracuse team this past weekend at home, and after his team’s very likely loss to USC this weekend, his winning percentage (he’s won 28 of 48 games) will be eerily similar to his two predecessors when they were canned.

But Charlie Weis, my friends, will probably survive another year because of his buyout. And, perhaps more importantly, because of the state of the economy. (As an aside, Notre Dame’s $7 billion endowment, like most investments, got slammed from its investments in real estate and commodities.)

The buyout is roughly as secretive as Joe Paterno’s Penn State coaching contract, but it’s believed that it would cost north of $15 million buy out Weis. (As the New York Times’ Pete Thamel notes, it’s not clear if the number for hiring the coach away versus firing him.)

As I talked about last year Weis was given a ridiculous contract that ran through the 2015 season based on a rumor that one NFL team was supposedly looking into maybe hiring Weis.

The prevailing thought is that the buyout is still too big—it’s roughly double the largest buyout in college coaching history (Denny Crum at $7 million)—for Notre Dame to do anything. That’s especially considering that it would take more boosters to pay Weis off this year than last even though the amount was larger at the time. This is because it’s probably safe to say that every power fan has a little less cash in their pocket.

But when I suggested last year that the buyout was too big, I got a slew of notes from Notre Dame fans telling me that it was not and that I was underestimating the money that could easily be pooled in a single meeting. So, in essence, I was being told that it wasn’t about the lack of funding, it was about a lack of the desire. I was also told that the money was nothing in the scheme of things; that losing the way Notre Dame was losing was costing the school more money. Just look at the difference between what the Fighting Irish pull in for a BCS game versus say, the Gator Bowl, they’d say.

Last year, only 54 percent of those that voted in our poll said that Notre Dame, which was 1-8 at the time, should buy out Weis. So, with Notre Dame playing an easier schedule and at 6-5 heading into this week’s game against USC, we’re asking you again.

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