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The Back Story on Weis' Comments

I had planned on taking to today off to just reflect on yesterday's loss to Arizona and the season as a whole but I have been keeping tabs of this whole situation regarding Charlie Weis' comments about Pete Carroll and I wanted to get this out because it offers a lot of context of the quotes and a little about the non-traditional media.

John Walters over at FanHouse offers up some great analysis...

2. On Saturday Weis invited five members of the media to the Hannah and Friends Farm, the special needs facility just a few miles north of campus that Weis and his wife, Maura, worked so hard these past five years to make a reality. The five invitees were Jeff Jeffers of WNDU-TV, Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated, Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune, Mike Frank of Irish Sports Daily and Ryan O'Leary of Irish Sports Daily.

Weis told them, "I believe that you guys now, you five guys care about Notre Dame ... You do not wish ill will on Notre Dame. I don't believe that's the case with everyone."


A few points on that:

1. This was an 80- to 90-minute roundtable. All comments made by Weis were heard by everyone assembled, and yet only Prister included them in his piece. Why did the other four media members at this session not run this comment?

2. Prister is a Notre Dame alumnus, has a son who is a student, and has been covering Fighting Irish football dating back to the days of Gerry Faust. There is no one on the beat who consistently displays greater insight and who walks the tightrope between fair and tough better than Tim does. If Weis intended the comment to be off the record (see No. 3), I am 100% certain either he failed to adequately clarify that point or that Prister made an honest mistake. There is no more professional person on the beat than Tim Prister.

3. As a Notre Dame alum myself, I do not wish ill will on Notre Dame. Nor on Charlie. But that's not my job, to "care about Notre Dame." Our job is to report the news. So, yes, when your star quarterback gets a shiner only hours after playing what was probably his final home game, we in the media are obligated to report that and to investigate how it happened. That does not make us pro- or anti-Notre Dame. It makes us reporters.

I don't know any of these guys. I obviously do not follow ND close enough to know who the beat writers are or who the covers the team from the TV side or the fan sites...Irish Illustrated is a fan site. They are part of the Rivals/Yahoo! network.

Regardless of how professional Walters thinks Prister is he still biased towards ND.

Prister is not objective anymore than I am.

Here is a little more from Walters piece...(emphasis added)

3. Weis claims that the comments were made off-the-record. Here is a statement from Tim Prister regarding the incident that currently appears in the message boards section of Irish Illustrated:

The five reporters and Charlie Weis were discussing Internet rumors Saturday when a question pertaining to Pete Carroll was asked. Comments were made that were, in my opinion, on the record, and corroborated by another reporter in attendance as on the record. However, Coach Weis, later in the day, indicated that they were not on the record and were taken out of context.

Before talking to Coach Weis later in the day, I took the comments at face value and reported them after transcribing the interview and presenting it in its entirety (the question-answer part) before any of the other reporters presented it.

Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by Coach Weis and asked to remove the comment because it was an off the record statement taken out of context. We took the necessary measures to remove it because of the miscommunication, but a national story still contained the comment. The reason it appeared on our site and no one else's is because we were the first to report it. The other reporters were asked not to use it after our story appeared and prior to them publishing their stories.

I regret the miscommunication and in no way intended to misrepresent the comments made by Coach Weis. I was one of five reporters asked to this gathering and in no way would I intend to disparage or misrepresent Coach Weis.
I imagine that Weis fully intended that statement to be off-the-record. Whether or not he made that clear is something only those six people, and their tape recorders, can answer. Two weeks ago I spent 70 minutes with Weis, one-on-one, and we jumped from on-the-record to off-the-record.

Lee Corso once told me something that I have never forgotten. "Never go off the record," Corso said. "If you have to go off the record with a comment, you're better off just not saying it in the first place."

The answer is right there...

The only one who "ran with it" was Prister. I have yet to see the other outlets given access to that interview put forth those comments. Prister may not want to disparage Weis but his running of Weis' comments certainly disparaged Pete Carroll.

Walters can claim Prister is professional all he wants but his actions show him to be nothing more than a partisan hack. Could you imagine the fire storm that would ensue If I wrote something like that...I can pretty much guarantee you that SBN would cut me off at the knees.That is just shabby "journalism" and Prister comes off as someone who will go to any lengths to support his meal ticket at the expense of their chief rival. What other reason is there for him to print that? I highly doubt that is was to make Weis look bad...though that is exactly what he did.

The lack of responsibility by Prister is astounding, but there looks to be a reason as Walters explains...

5. Whether Weis' allegation is accurate -- the rumor about Carroll and a grad student has been out there for awhile -- is hardly the point. Weis may be sore by the sharp contrast in which he and Carroll were profiled by "60 Minutes". In 2006 Weis came off as an overly self-assured loud-mouth while in 2008 Carroll was practically beatified for his after-hours work with gang bangers. Weis may be upset that ESPN, which has reporter Shelley Smith based practically inside Heritage Hall, finds a feel-good tale about the Trojans to run on "GameDay" every month while his charitable work goes unnoticed nationally.

Sour grapes...Notre Dame gets plenty of attention. If they wanted more then Weis should have won big games not come close like he did against SC in 2005. I wish I could get a contract extension for being close!

ND fans like to think that Notre Dame is still all that. Profiles in delusion I like to call it.

They aren't and they haven't been in a while. Weis made his own bed when he popped off at the mouth when he took the Notre Dame job. His claims of a "decided schematic advantage" and "I have never lost to Pete Carroll" set the tone that this guy's mouth was writing checks his body couldn't cash.

Weis' whining in this interview may have been out of pent up frustration that he really is mis-understood but that is not our problem.

It is his.

If the message is garbled then change the message or repackage it. Weis got wrapped up in all the ND hype because he is an ND alum and he wanted to bring the old dog back to some form of prominence. We have seen this recently before...I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

Pete Carroll has always done is own thing. He has never gone out of his way (off the field) to call out a coach. He has never purposely put forth any bulletin board material. And he certainly would not stoop to this level on or off the record!

Incredibly, here is the hypocrisy of Weis' statements...(again, emphasis added)

7. Weis goes out of his way to point out that he and his former boss, Bill Belichick, are still close. "There are people in New England who say, 'There's a rift between Weis and Belichick,'" Weis says. "We've never been closer because I've stuck by him. While all this stuff was going down in New England, there was one person who was sticking by him, and that was me. I think that's the right way of doing it."

Such loyalty is admirable. On the other hand, is this not the same Bill Belichick who was named in a 2006 divorce suit because he was allegedly carrying on an affair with a secretary for the New York Giants who was married at the time? Why call out Carroll for an alleged infidelity while ignoring a similar (here comes that word) transgression by your former boss? It comes off as hypocritical.

We don't know if the Weis' allegations WRT Carroll are true. I know I don't care, but if Prister is so close to the Notre Dame program, if he is so close to Weis and knows Weis' close relationship with Bill Belichick then don't you think that Prister would think twice about running those quotes?

Running those quotes does nothing more than make Notre Dame look like some program that has a sense of entitlement based on glory from days long gone by. Don't get me wrong it is, Notre Dame football has been nothing the past fifteen years. Pristers irresponsibility makes the program look bad because as someone who writes about the program exclusively he and by extension Notre Dame looks petty for running a salacious quote that paints Notre Dame's chief rival in a bad light. Prister used Carroll as a circus side show prop to try and pump Notre Dame up as to having unrealistic expectations and scrutiny plain and simple.

Finally, this puts the perfect end to it...

It's ironic, actually. Charlie believed that the media manipulated his words from the very beginning ("You're 6-5 and guess what? That's not good enough."). And so, in the end, he chose first not to appear in front of the media (post-Stanford) and then later to make himself available to a select and trusted few. And still he got burned.

Were the media the enemy? Or was it his mouth?


Weis has used the media to further his agenda for years...and he always took a little bit of heat. But this time it bit him in the ass and he was undone by the one guy who has made a living on trying to portray Notre Dame in the best but objective light possible.

Come to think of it they both got burned...Prister so badly wants to be on the same level as the traditional media. But in trying to paint Weis as a sympathetic figure he goes off the reservation by sticking it to Notre Dame's chief rival.

Talk about an Epic FAIL!

They both come out looking bad.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone!