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'Bye, Charlie

Weis ouster only a matter of time

Remember last week, when I intimated that people were being a little too hasty about shoving Charlie Weis out the door?

Well, I might have been ... a little too hasty.

Looks as if now you can turn out the lights on another era at Notre Dame, or error, if you prefer. The loss at Pittsburgh last night -- a game the Irish were never in until the final minutes, when they got a providential punt return for a touchdown by Golden Tate to give themsevles a chance -- dropped N.D. to 6-4, in a season in which it should have been 10-2. And the grim calculus that brought down Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham before him is now coming after Charlie Weis; his winning percentage is exactly in line with his two doomed predecessors.

Look for a 7-5 finish at best, with UConn and Stanford still ahead. The Huskies, the Irish can beat at home. The Cardinal ... well, they smoked USC 55-20 last night, a week after smoking Oregon. What they'll do to Notre Dame in Palo Alto in another two weeks is only for the strongest of stomachs to contemplate.

In any case, the next two weeks will be hell for Charlie, because no one is going to be talking football. It's all about his future now, no matter how dismissive he remains at the very notion that Notre Dame would want to fire him.

Well. He can be as dismissive as he wants. But the cold reality is, events have moved beyond him. The Notre Dame community is no longer talking about him in the present tense; he's been supplanted on the Domer Web sites by speculation about who the Nation's next victim will be. Brian Kelly? Bob Stoops? Jon Gruden?

All are far more current right now than Weis, who, like so many coaches with strictly pro backgrounds, never really got the college game. He'll leave behind yet another legacy as both a victim of the times -- it's getting harder and harder to recruit stud 18-year-olds to a place that hasn't been relevant since said 18-year-olds were in Garanimals -- and a guy who couldn't beat anyone with a pedigree.

Hard to put your name up their in lights with Rockne, Leahy and Ara, after all, when the signature game of your tenure was a loss -- the Bush Push defeat to USC in 2005, when both teams were ranked in the top 10.

Outside of that, what else do you hang your hat on, if you're Charlie Weis? Beating a lot of Nevadas and Washington States?

And so again to the well Notre Dame will go. And the guy who boasted he'd have a "decisive schematic advantage" when he was hired will exit stage right with a final season notable only for a handful of narrow escapes against a collection of mediocrities the Irish should have beaten handily, if they were at all what their hype implied they were.

We Almost Beat Navy, And Almost Lost To Purdue, Michigan State, And Washington: Now there's a slogan to rally the faithful around.

Ben Smith's blog.

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