"Notre Dame" and "racist" are two phrases that have been coupled together with some regularity since the dismissal of Willingham, so this warrants some discussion. So let me make it clear: Notre Dame's termination of Willingham was a business decision, not an act of racism. Furthermore, dismissal of Weis after next season would be a poor business decision, and that is why Wilner is somewhat misguided. Allow me to explain before you either write me off or nominate me for a Pulitzer (depending on your stake in the debate).
First of all, let's look at the data. Here are the two men's respective bodies of work.
|Tyrone Willingham||Charlie Weis|
|(N) Maryland||W||22-0||@ Pittsburgh||W||42-21|
|@ Michigan State||W||21-17||@ Washington||W||36-17|
|@ Air Force||W||21-14||Brigham Young||W||49-23|
|@ Florida State||W||34-24||Tennessee||W||41-21|
|@ USC||L||13-44||(N) Ohio State||L||20-34|
|(N) NC State||L||6-28||@ Georgia Tech||W||14-10|
|Washington State||W||29-26||Penn State||W||41-17|
|Michigan State||L||16-22||@ Michigan State||W||40-37|
|@ Boston College||L||25-27||(N) Navy||W||38-14|
|Florida State||L||0-37||North Carolina||W||45-26|
|Navy||W||27-24||@ Air Force||W||39-17|
|@ Stanford||W||57-7||@ USC||L||24-44|
|@ Syracuse||L||12-38||(N) LSU||L||14-41|
|@ Brigham Young||L||17-20||Georgia Tech|
|Michigan||W||28-20||@ Penn State|
|@ Michigan State||W||31-24||@ Michigan|
|(N) Navy||W||27-9||Boston College|
Weis holds a decisive advantage in winning percentage (.760 to .583) and point differential (+242 to +18). However, Wilner would correctly point out that he never contended otherwise. His argument was that (a) Bob Davie (35-25 .583) and Gerry Faust (30-26-1 .535) both had equal or lesser winning percentages, but were allowed to complete their five-year contracts, and (b) Notre Dame claimed its firing of Willingham was justified by lopsided defeats in big games, yet Weis isn't being pressured despite recent lopsided defeats to USC and LSU.
Both of these arguments can be addressed at once. Davie and Faust combined for seven defeats by 21 points or more in ten years of coaching Notre Dame. Willingham suffered eight defeats by at least three touchdowns in just three years. In other words, Davie and Faust were averaging less than one such defeat per season, while Willingham was averaging almost three. And some of these (NC State, Purdue, Syracuse) were in situations where Notre Dame was favored to win. In contrast, Charlie Weis has suffered two such defeats, both in 2006 and both to top-10 teams (Michigan and LSU). Wilner's position is defeated.
There are other arguments people sometimes make in addition to what Wilner contended. If you have an argument to the contrary, feel free to reply to this post. We here at College Football Nation would be happy to discuss it with you.