Two Coaches, Same Fate?

In three seasons at Notre Dame, coach Charlie Weis has won nine games, 10 games and one game, making him the first person in history to hit 20 and bust.

As Notre Dame and Nebraska plummet toward the bottom of their respective history books, as the Fighting Irish and the Cornhuskers find out how the other half has lived for the past few decades, their fans share a great many emotions: embarrassment, humiliation, disgust.

What they don't share is a solution. Notre Dame is not entertaining the idea of firing Weis. There isn't a soul between Scottsbluff and Omaha who believes Bill Callahan should or will return to run the Huskers next season.

Bill Callahan's Huskers have dropped five straight. Notre Dame has fallen farther, and faster, than Nebraska. The last team to play in a BCS bowl and win as few as three games was Alabama, which followed its SEC Championship and an Orange Bowl berth in 1999 by going 3-8 in 2000. Crimson Tide coach Mike DuBose didn't survive that fall.

Yet Weis won't be fired this year. Weis will survive in part because of the heights to which he took the Irish in the past two seasons. But he will also survive because he embraced the culture on campus.

Callahan came in as an agent of change, dismantling what had worked for three decades. It's not just the West Coast offense that Callahan brought in. Callahan and athletic director Steve Pederson brought a professional, business mentality to what had been a homey athletic department.

Out went the framed paintings of past Huskers stars that lined the walls. In came a new building with security worthy of a Manhattan office building. Neither move sat well with the Nebraska faithful.

Irish eyes frown on Weis

Notre Dame created a monster when it fired Tyrone Willingham after just three seasons. Now Charlie Weis is paying the price. Gene Wojciechowski Callahan struggled, but in the midst of struggling, neither he nor Pederson developed a base among the fans. When the bottom dropped out this season -- five straight losses, capped by a 76-39 loss at Kansas -- no one rallied to Callahan's defense. Instead, they are pinning their hopes on interim athletic director Tom Osborne, who already has indicated that he will make a coaching change.

Looking on from afar is Callahan's predecessor, Frank Solich, a former Huskers running back, an assistant to Osborne for 19 seasons and the man who went 58-19 as the Huskers' head coach during 1998-2003. Pederson fired him after the Huskers went 10-3 in 2003.

Solich said he has spoken with Osborne since the Hall of Fame coach returned to run the athletic department.

"We thought we were moving in the right direction. What happened, happened," Solich said. "There were just a few people that I was bothered with. You like to see your alma mater do well. But things are where they are at. I'm sure Tom will get things upgraded there."

Weis likely will get things upgraded at Notre Dame. It's difficult to imagine how they could get worse.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson has railed against the injustices of the BCS for pretty much its entire 10-year existence. He is well aware that his two candidates for a bowl jackpot this season -- No. 16 Hawaii (8-0) and No. 20 Boise State (8-1) -- could do all they could do and still get shut out when the pairings are announced on Dec. 2.

If Colt Brennan and Hawaii finish undefeated, WAC commish Karl Benson likes their BCS chances. Benson is not hopping mad. He's not even hopping.

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