I'm talking, of course, about the tell-tale heart that beats louder the more people question Weis' coaching abilities, namely his predecessor's firing. It's interesting that, every time anyone wants to defend Weis, the first reaction is to blame it all on Willingham. "Well, these are Willingham's shitty seniors," and "Weis was a better choice because he's had better recruiting." That may be true, but the logical conclusion is that this team has more talent than it's had in years, and yet has a worse record.
If the players have more talent, yet is performing worse than we've seen in a long time, who's fault is that?
And furthermore, wasn't last year's team, when we had Ty's seniors and juniors, better than this one? And wasn't the team with Ty's seniors, juniors, and sophomores better than that?
And why wasn't anyone blaming Willingham's last team's performance on Bob Davie's shitty seniors?
It is true, Weis is recruiting better. But none of this explains why Willingham wasn't allowed to finish his contract, a rather dramatic break from tradition under the Dome. You can complain about his recruiting all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that Davie recruited like crap, too, and had a worse record than Ty, and still got to finish his contract. Same with Gerry Faust.
Nevertheless, it seems that people all over the NCAAF beat talk Charlie up like he's the greatest football coach ever, despite the fact that he has yet to really perform. When was the last time we beat a team that we were supposed to lose to? Sure, we beat Michigan when they were #3 two years ago, but they ended up being a paper tiger that year (remember, they started this year ranked #5). And there was Penn St. last year, but they didn't turn out so great, either. There was that incredible game against SC 2 years ago, but was that not a team composed almost entirely of Willingham's recruits?
I think that part of the reason why we have so much invested in Charlie Weis doing well and why we've been giving him so much credit is because we can somehow rationalize Willingham getting screwed as long as Weis' performance makes it "worth it." Admitting he hasn't been everything he was cracked up to be makes it harder to brush aside the uncomfortable question: was race a factor in ND's decision to break with decision and toss Ty overboard before he finished his contract, or even got to build his own complete team?
Of course it was, and someday we're going to have to deal with that.