When Charlie Weis puts on his headset on the Patriots sideline today, he'll hope the best academic high school football players in America will be watching. That's because Weis now has two jobs -- offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Sources at Notre Dame and in the NFL familiar with the negotiations confirmed last night that Weis will accept a six-year deal estimated at $12 million. Weis is expected to stay with the Patriots until the end of the season.
Weis, who will be introduced tomorrow at a press conference in South Bend, Ind., is expected to hire a top national recruiter to join his staff and recruit while Weis is busy finishing his Patriots duties.
Sources close to Weis suggested Al Golden, the defensive coordinator on Al Groh's Virginia staff, could fill that role. Golden, 35, was a major recruiter for Joe Paterno at Penn State and also served with Tom O'Brien as a linebackers coach at Boston College from 1997-99. Weis has many coaches for his staff either in mind or in place, according to sources.
The deal came together quickly yesterday after Notre Dame officials contacted Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Tom Clements, thought to be the leading candidate to replace Tyrone Willingham, and told him they were moving in a different direction.
NFL sources said that Weis's passion for Notre Dame and his track record of strong offensive teams convinced Irish officials he was the man for the job. The university did its homework on Weis, contacting former Irish players such as Patriots wide receiver David Givens and other players and coaches in the NFL to vouch for Weis's character as well as his potential as a recruiter.
"We're very happy for Charlie," said Patriots vice chairman Jonathan Kraft. "There's no doubt, based on years of watching him up close, that Charlie will do a great job at Notre Dame."
The school's hiring committee convened at the university late yesterday and began negotiating with Weis's agent, Bob LaMonte. The school had also interviewed Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, a former Irish assistant, but his name was also withdrawn from consideration.
Notre Dame reportedly made Utah coach Urban Meyer an offer that averaged in the vicinity of $1.3-$1.5 million per year, but Meyer fled to Florida for more money.
Notre Dame had also put out feelers to NFL coaches such as Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden, Detroit's Steve Mariucci, and Denver's Mike Shanahan, but none was interested. The big issue is how Weis will balance the two jobs.
His soon-to-be former boss, Bill Belichick, had a similar experience in 1994 when Nick Saban, his defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns, was hired to be Michigan State's head coach.
Saban was allowed to hire assistant coaches and recruiters while performing his duties with the Browns, but there are major differences between Saban's situation and Weis's.
Belichick is a defensive coach and was easily able to oversee the defense, while Weis has complete control of the Patriots' offense. There is no obvious candidate to replace Weis, though the Patriots are high on assistant offensive line coach Jeff Davidson as a potential offensive coordinator.
The Browns' season ended on Jan. 7. If the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, they'd play in February. Kraft thinks Weis would be able to handle both jobs for a short time.Former Patriots center Damien Woody, now with the Lions, said, "I don't know anyone who is more deserving of a job like that than Charlie. I know Tom [Brady] loves him. Sometimes some of those guys don't get the credit because it always goes to Bill (Belichick), but Charlie made something big of that offense." "