By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

I believe it was the great Negro philosopher Don King who best summarized Charlie Weis' Notre Dame contract extension: "Only in America."

Because only in the land of apple pie, baseball and hypocrisy would a major sports organization have the audacity to give a white football coach a record contract for winning five of his first seven games just a few months after prematurely firing a black coach who won his first eight.

You have to be impressed with Notre Dame's arrogance.

Critics be damned! You might think the firing of Ty Willie was racist. That was nothing. Wait until you see how we treat his successor.

Tyrone Willingham & Charlie Weis
AP
Weis got the better of Willingham this season -- but Willingham had the better start at ND.

For the record, I didn't have a problem with Notre Dame's firing Willingham. Yes, he deserved five years. But his firing didn't strike me as particularly racist, just shortsighted and unfair. Life is rarely fair, and we're certainly an instant-gratification society. The same factors could and do lead to the premature demise of white coaches (see Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown, Detroit Pistons).

Now, Weis' new 10-year contract, reportedly worth between $30 million and $40 million … that strikes me as racist. Because there's just no way Notre Dame, or any school for that matter, would do the same thing for a black coach.

How do I know this?

Because Willingham was far more impressive in the first two months of his initial season than Weis has been in his, and all Tyrone got was a pat on the back.

Sit down before reading the next couple of sentences, because what I'm about to tell you will shock you.

SOUND OFF
Jason Whitlock says that Charlie Weis' contract extension is not only shortsighted, but in the wake of Tyrone Willingham's dismissal at Notre Dame, it's quite possibly racist. How do you feel about that?

Charlie Weis has not proven that he's the second coming of Joe Paterno, or Jimmy Johnson, or Pete Carroll, or even Bob Stoops. Charlie Weis has not won one football game that he wasn't supposed to.

Notre Dame has beaten a mediocre Michigan team, a Dave Wannstedt-coached Pittsburgh team that is .500 only because the Big East is terrible, the third- or fourth-best team in the Mountain West Conference (BYU), a bad Purdue squad, and a Washington club with one victory (vs. Idaho).

Please don't tell the CIA I told you this -- this information is classified top secret -- but the combined record of Weis' victims is 17-24.

I know, I know. You turn on the TV, pick up the newspaper or click on the Internet, and you're led to believe that Notre Dame, under the ingenious direction of the "Great Weis Hope," is undefeated, having hammered USC, Texas and Virginia Tech all in the same weekend.

Sadly, it's not true. Weis' greatest accomplishment so far is that he led Notre Dame to a close loss against USC. Buddy Teevens (Stanford) and Karl Dorrell (UCLA) put the same thing on their résumés last year. But they're still waiting on their 10-year, $30 million-$40 million contracts.

In case you've forgotten, in 2002, Tyrone ran up an 8-0 record against Maryland, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Air Force and Florida State. Six of those teams -- all but Stanford and Michigan State -- played in bowl games that year. The combined record, including bowl games, for those eight clubs was 60-43.

And how 'bout this?

Willingham won those eight games with Carlyle Holiday, an option quarterback recruited by Bob Davie, running Willingham's West Coast passing offense.

The Great Weis Hope is beating marginal teams with a Willingham-recruited quarterback -- Brady Quinn -- so talented that some NFL draft experts suggest he would be taken ahead of Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart.

Yes, Weis is doing a nice job working with the offensive talent Willingham recruited. But while Willingham inherited offensive personnel recruited to run the football, Weis inherited players recruited to operate in a pro-style passing offense.

Forgive me for not being shocked that Weis is getting points out of all that mature, experienced talent Willingham left behind.

Charlie Weis
AP
Who's gotten a sweeter deal than Weis after seven games?

I'm sorry if this column comes off like a vicious attack on Weis. It's not. I think Weis has a chance to be an outstanding head coach. I'm actually rooting for Weis to be successful. Two members of his coaching staff -- defensive coordinator Rick Minter and tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee -- go back to my Ball State playing days. Minter owns the best football mind I've ever been around, and he deserves another head coaching position. Parmalee, my former teammate, is as good a human being as you'll ever meet. I consider Minter and Parmalee friends. If Weis succeeds, it means my two friends will benefit.

Weis just needs to earn it, like everyone else. Weis and his handlers shouldn't get away with floating the story about his $1.5 million buyout and how that makes Notre Dame vulnerable to an NFL team stealing him. The media shouldn't act like Notre Dame had no choice but to hand Weis a new deal.

If the New York Giants or any other NFL team decides it wants Weis as its coach, there's no amount of money that is going to stand in the way of that getting done. Only Weis can stop that deal by saying he'd prefer to remain a college coach.

You think Weis is the only college coach the NFL has ever been interested in?

After winning a national championship, Stoops has had to turn down the NFL almost every year. You think an NFL team wouldn't give Carroll another opportunity?

This is a gigantic overreaction by a school administration that should know better. They watched Willingham experience early success and then struggle. Notre Dame has no clue whether Weis can recruit or sustain success.

Let's call this exactly what it is: greed and stupidity. Just like Terrell Owens -- but with far less proof -- Weis and his advisors reached the conclusion that the Great Weis Hope outperformed his contract. So Weis and Notre Dame concocted an excuse for the South Bend skies to rain money, and the fawning, lazy, hypocritical media co-signed for it.

Maybe had Willingham tried push-ups and sit-ups in his driveway, he would still be Notre Dame's coach. Never mind. T.O. tried that.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com.



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