Since, or perhaps before, Notre Dame's late-game survival at Navy on November 15, Charlie Weis' job has been in jeopardy. It's interesting to ponder, for a moment, just how unfathomable this seemed even two years ago.
Weis had just won his first seven games for Notre Dame, leading quarterback Brady Quinn to, finally, a fulfillment of his potential as a future pro and Notre Dame to a BCS bowl. Weis appeared to be what most colleges now want from their head coaches -- stern disciplinarians that double as secret professional geniuses. So Notre Dame made Charlie Weis rich.
Now? Weis finishes the 2008 season -- three years into his tenure -- at 6-6. Despite his consistently highly-ranked recruiting classes, Weis has had minimal experience on the field, and, beyond his first year at the helm, has failed to deliver the sort of yearly bowl appearances that Notre Dame fans unequivocally demand. Notre Dame is closer to being a joke than to being dominant. They're on the wrong side of the college football spectrum, and they continue to free-fall.
Weis' buyout was once reportedly $10 million, but recent estimates have claimed it to be closer to the $4 or $5 million mark. Either way, that's an insane, insane amount of money for any college -- let alone one with the financial necessities of a private school -- to be paying just to be rid of a football coach. There's a chance some anonymous donor could pony up the cash, but ... well, it's $5 million. People aren't exactly lined around the block for the chance to pay Weis $5 million to go away.
Perhaps Notre Dame is stuck with Weis. Maybe Weis' the size of Weis' buyout -- by the way, who knew old Charlie had such financial foresight? -- will keep him safe.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame's president sent out an email on Monday stressing that faculty, students and staff have to cut costs in light of the stress the sour economy is putting on the university. If this season turns out to be the low point of Weis' tenure at Note Dame, the coach appears to have timed it well.