Coach Weis had a brief press conference today, and it was a hoot. After admonishing the reporters about the new way of doing business ("If I start reading those anonymous quotes now, you're shut down...I will never say another word to you...So let's make sure we understand what the terms are walking in the door" -- BGI has the rest of the smackdown Charlie went on to answer a few questions on his assistant coaching staff, building a team, the state of recruiting, and various other matters of great import (like which Super Bowl ring he was wearing. Actually, he gave a great answer on that: "The most recent one").
Listening to Charlie speak, you get the distinct impression that at any given time, he's got a bunch of things going on in his mind. He repeats himself some, he cuts sentences short, he rambles a bit, but he's always talking, and always thinking. Nothing seems prefabricated or overly considered; it's a garrulous, ongoing riff, as expansive and ungainly as a herd of cattle moving quickly over the plains. Yet in all the dust that's being kicked up, in every half-phrase and rambling sentence, there's a point to be made, an idea to impart, a command to give, or a moment of self-deprecation. You're getting it straight, honest, and unfiltered, right off the cuff. It's refreshing.
Anyway, the occasion provoked me to go back and read the introductory press conferences of Weis, Willingham, O'Leary, and Davie. Now, by point of comparison, it's quite easy to make kneejerk judgments based on isolated soundbites between say, Weis and Willingham, who share about as much in speaking style and charm as Jackie Gleason and a grocery checkout clerk. Juxtaposing the two leads to a lot of cheap criticisms at Willingham's expense: in comparison, and with the benefit of hindsight, Willingham seems like a real dud. Perhaps we're clouded by his crummy brand of football -- I can remember a time when Willingham was praised for his succinctness and seriousness of purpose -- but now, it all seems like a whitewash, the hollow platitudes of a politician or a high school principal.
One of the other things that strikes you upon reading the transcripts is the vastly different language used when the coaches were introduced (whether it was by Monk, Kevin White, or Father Jenkins). The intro of Ty is couched in terms of academic and spiritual achievement, with Monk expounding at length about all the non-football aspects of the Notre Dame head coaching job: family, academic performance, "appropriateness", residentiality. Monk basically delivered his stump normally reserved for the Sports Business Council, the NCAA committee on gambling, or the Society of Christian Ethics. You'd think he was introducing a new team chaplain, not a football coach.
With Charlie's introduction, you got the broad strokes, and then it was down to business. It's brief, almost terse: Monk says about two things, Jenkins hits the main theme ("Acting with integrity, giving our students a superb education and excelling on the field"), and White goes over his coaching credentials. The new regime seems to be saying: enough speeches, forget the platitudes and save the political grandstanding. Let's get this party started right.