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February 22, 2009

Roundtable: From where should Weis coach?

At the College Football Roundtable, we ask each member of the coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport.

Today's question: Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis announced that he will serve as his own offensive coordinator and might sit in the press box this fall. Your thoughts?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
I think it's a good move. The view from the press box is more conducive to seeing everything that is happening on the field. Maybe more coaches will try it. No doubt, the head coach wants to be closer to the action and for face-to-face exchanges with players, especially the quarterback. But if the coach also is going to call plays, shouldn't he be getting the best view of what's going on? If he needs to have contact with a player well, that's why phones are on the bench. I don't have an issue with head coaches being on the sideline, either. But if Weis is going to take on all offensive coordinator duties, it would just seem logical he would want the view from the box. Yes, he could put someone he trusts up there to relay information. But by the same token, he could have someone he trusts on the sideline to relay information, too.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I don't like it, not one bit. To me, it's just another example of how Charlie Weis is out of touch and never will hack it as a head coach. A leader needs to be on the sideline to interact with his players. They all need to see him and hear him, especially young college players. A leader doesn't isolate himself in a booth above the action; he walks with his men. I know Weis made his name as an offensive coordinator and wants to play to his strengths in what is a crucial season, but Weis is being paid to be a head coach. It is his job to hire good assistants to be coordinators. Oh, and I wonder how the defensive players will feel about this.

David Fox's answer:
Head coaches pull double duty as coordinators all the time. Steve Spurrier has done it for decades. Pete Carroll was his own defensive coordinator early at USC. If Weis wants to focus on his strengths by taking over the offense, that's his prerogative. Moving into the press box, though, is a clear signal he's not a good fit as a head coach. If he wants to act like an offensive coordinator and sit in the offensive coordinator's seat, maybe he should be just an offensive coordinator. Even the most hands-on of coaches put trust in their staffs and modern technology to communicate from the press box to the sideline. Calling the game from the press box looks like a sign of desperation.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Count me among those who think a head coach should be on the field. As far as I know, there have been just two head coaches who were successful coaching from the press box Billy Joe and Darrell Mudra and both did it at a lower level of football. Weis will be coaching for his job this fall and already has said he will call his own plays. Most coaches will tell you it's much easier seeing the field from on-high. At the same time, you're the head coach and should be worried about more than just the offense. Weis should coach from the field.

Steve Megargee's answer:
Moving to the press box could work out well for Weis, as long as he isn't making a rash decision based on the results of one game. Weis' knee problems forced him into the press box last season for the Hawaii Bowl. The Irish responded by defeating Hawaii 49-15 for their first bowl win in 15 years. Weis' move to the press box certainly seemed to spark Notre Dame's passing attack, as Jimmy Clausen threw for 406 yards and five touchdowns against the Warriors. Working from the press box has its benefits because coaches can see the whole field and get a better vantage point on what's going on everywhere. Offensive coordinators often coach from the press box, and Weis will be his own offensive coordinator this season. He also has a talented staff that can monitor anything that happens on the sideline. So Weis would have plenty of good reasons to move to the press box. He just shouldn't assume that his move to the press box was the primary reason for Notre Dame's dominant performance in the Hawaii Bowl. Hawaii ranked 87th in the nation in pass efficiency defense last season. The Irish should have been able to throw the ball effectively on this defense whether Weis was on the sideline, in the press box or in his living room back in Indiana. Maybe Weis discovered last December that his offense works more efficiently when he's in the press box. Perhaps his absence from the sideline removed some of the pressure from his young players. But he shouldn't base his decision entirely on how Notre Dame fared in its bowl against an overmatched defense.



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