LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Charlie Weis has a bit of advice for the latest Patriots offensive coordinator to get his first college head coaching job at a national program.
Win the Super Bowl first.
Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is in the exact same place Weis was seven years ago with Notre Dame. Same job, same circumstance – splitting time between that college job and a Patriots playoff run.
“To be honest with you, I feel that if you’re making a run at the Super Bowl you have an ethical responsibility to finish the job,” Weis said Monday during a Kansas recruiting update.
That’s how Weis did it in his last year with the Patriots. New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since then.
“I hope that’s how it turns out for the Patriots,” Weis said. “I hope that’s how it turns out for Bill [Belichick] and Billy [O’Brien].”
Weis has met O’Brien only casually but said the Patriots-Nittany Lions transformation is being handled by Belichick the same way it was seven years ago. After being named Notre Dame coach in late 2004, Weis didn’t take over full-time until after the Patriots won their last Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2005. O’Brien, finally named at Penn State on Jan. 6, has also been splitting duties as the Patriots head to the AFC championship game.
“The first year it hurts you because you’re now taking a small [recruiting] class,” Weis said. “You’re scrambling to get your staff in line. Case in point: [Penn State’s staff is] in line with two weeks left in recruiting. They’ll get some guys but they’re going to get whatever guys they can get with two weeks left to recruit.”
Weis’ first class consisted of only 15 players and finished 40<sup>th</sup> nationally (Rivals) with only two four-star prospects – tight end Joey Hibdon and receiver D.J. Hord.
“It hurts you in the first year, which then hurts you in the third year,” Weis said referring to a lack of depth that shows up when players are expected to mature as juniors.
Maxpreps.com currently has Penn State with only 13 commitments with two weeks left until signing day. Similar to Weis in his first ND season, O’Brien’s class is ranked 41<sup>st</sup> by Rivals.
Obviously, there are different recruiting issues. Penn State is trying to dig out from a horrific scandal. Notre Dame remains on that championship chase. Weis went to BCS bowls in his first two seasons in South Bend. The freshmen in that first recruiting class then went 10-15 in 2007 and 2008 as juniors and seniors. Weis was fired after the 2009 season.
“There was a big positive residual effect when I was both offensive coordinator with the Patriots and the head coach at Notre Dame – in the second year,” Weis said. “You went and won it [Super Bowl] so now you have all these recruits looking at you. You don’t get them for that [first] year. The next year made it easier to recruit.”
True, Weis landed a top 10 class in 2006, but those players went 16-21 in their final three seasons. After staying with the Chiefs for one season (2010), Weis went to Florida as offensive coordinator in 2011. He stayed for the Chiefs one-game playoff “run” before departing for Gainesville.
“It’s not like they’ve had a whole year left to go ahead and do the thing,” Weis said of O’Brien, “although …the next year it makes things a lot easier as far as recruiting.”