No Excuses

No Excuses

by Charlie Weis, Vic Carucci

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Weis was taught football by some of the best minds in the game: Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Parcells would give him a life-defining break in 1990 by hiring him as an assistant on the New York Giants staff. For a Jersey guy who loved sports, this was a dream come true, especially when Weis won his first championship in his debut year in the NFL. He'd always

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Weis was taught football by some of the best minds in the game: Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Parcells would give him a life-defining break in 1990 by hiring him as an assistant on the New York Giants staff. For a Jersey guy who loved sports, this was a dream come true, especially when Weis won his first championship in his debut year in the NFL. He'd always wanted to be a sports announcer—the next Marv Albert—but he'd caught the coaching bug and was now in a position to learn from the best. And he did, following Parcells to the New England Patriots and then to the New York Jets. Under enormous pressure and exacting standards, Weis flourished and later became offensive coordinator.

When Parcells stepped down as coach of the Jets, Weis joined his colleague and friend Bill Belichick, who was the newly named Patriots head coach. Together they would thrive, building a storied franchise, a rare modern-day dynasty that won three Super Bowls in four years. Through it all, Weis designed offensive schemes that would befuddle even the best defenses in the NFL, and he coached a number of players to greatness, including Pro Bowlers Ben Coates, Curtis Martin, and, of course, Tom Brady.

The chance of a lifetime arrived in December of 2004: Weis was offered the opportunity to lead one of the most prestigious football schools in the country, Notre Dame—home of coaching legends Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine, and Lou Holtz. And so began a new chapter in Weis's career. Weis took over a program in dire need of direction, and now he is in the process of building his own legacy with his unique vision.

Off the field, Weis faced his other challenges. Seeking to improve his health and lose weight, he decided to get gastric bypass surgery. What he thought would be a routine procedure turned into a nightmare as he nearly bled to death, lapsed into a coma, and was read the last rites. It was a horrifying experience, yet he battled back in inspiring fashion and still demands nothing less of himself despite the long-lasting aftereffects.

He has had his joys, too. Weis considers his wife, Maura, his best friend. They have two beautiful children: Charlie, his "best buddy," and Hannah, who he and his wife consider their "guiding angel." Hannah is developmentally delayed and has been the inspiration leading to the establishment of Hannah and Friends, a nonprofit foundation seeking to improve the quality of life for people with special needs.

No Excuses is not only illuminating and insightful, it is an extraordinary look inside one of football's greatest minds who has helped shape today's game.

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No Excuses

One Man's Incredible Rise Through the NFL to Head Coach of Notre Dame

By Charlie Weis

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Charlie Weis

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061206725

Chapter One

"Notre Dame called last night. . . . I told them they could give you a call."
--Bill Belichick

To this day I am not sure why I dialed the phone. I guess you could blame it on a lot of things, immaturity probably being the biggest. It was a Sunday afternoon in 1975, the day after Notre Dame's football team had lost a game and looked pretty bad doing so. For some reason, I believed that being a student of the university entitled me to issue a complaint about the team's performance. I thought it would be a good idea to take my complaint all the way to the top--to the office of Father Theodore Hesburgh, the school's president at the time.

To be honest, I was fully expecting to get an answering service. I was stunned when Father Hesburgh himself picked up at the other end. It had never dawned on me that he would be done with his Sunday masses and actually sitting in his office at that very moment, ready to answer his phone.

Father Hesburgh was caught off guard as well. He wasn't in the habit of fielding a lot of complaint calls from students. He made me come straight down to his office to tell him exactly what was on my mind.

My passion for sports and thinking that I knew everything there was to knowabout football--not to mention every other sport--had a lot to do with my being in that situation. When I sat in the stands at Notre Dame, I wasn't just watching the action on the field or on the court. To me, being at the game meant being a part of the game. Our football team won the national championship in 1977, my senior year. Our basketball team went to the Final Four. As a student who went to every game, I felt that I was part of the reason why the University of San Francisco's twenty-nine-game winning streak in basketball came to an end in '77 in our building, the Joyce Center, where the chant was "Twenty-nine . . . and one!" At Notre Dame, the whole student body has always believed it can affect the outcome of a game.

Notre Dame Stadium is like no other place you've ever gone to watch football. Not that there aren't fans everywhere that make a lot of noise, but a game at Notre Dame is something to experience. I still can't believe my eyes when I see, after every Notre Dame score, hundreds of people in the stands doing "air push-ups." That's where they lift people, often recruits who weigh as much as 350 pounds, into the air and do as many push-ups with them as we have points. Or how about fans who crowd surf sixty rows? You just won't find anything like it anywhere else.

But there should be a limit to your enthusiasm, and I had exceeded that limit with my complaint call to Father Hesburgh, who at the time was in his twenty-third year as Notre Dame's president. Father Hesburgh would lead the university for twelve more years until his retirement in 1987. He is considered one of the most influential figures in higher education in the twentieth century.

I walked into his office with my tail between my legs, scared to death that I had gotten myself into trouble. Father Hesburgh had a very intimidating aura. After I nervously shared my point of view on our football team, he basically told me that I didn't get a vote. What I thought about the football team wasn't important, he said; I should go back and be a good student who was loyal to the school and its teams, and not consider my opinion one that mattered.
Fortunately, the stern lecture was the extent of my punishment. But that didn't make it any less painful. I remember walking out of that office feeling as humbled as you could possibly be.

Now flash forward nearly thirty years, to early December 2004. Once again I was on the phone with a member of the administration at the University of Notre Dame. This time I was on the receiving end of the call, at my office in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, home of the New England Patriots.

I was going about my usual business as the Patriots' offensive coordinator, trying to help them win their third Super Bowl in four seasons. John Heisler, Notre Dame's senior associate athletics director, was asking whether I would be interested in speaking with Kevin White, the school's director of athletics, about replacing Tyrone Willingham, who had just been fired as head coach.

Imagine that. The opinionated fan who used to sit in the student section had an opinion about Notre Dame football that just might matter after all. It brought a sarcastic smile to my face.

I told John that protocol would be for Kevin to call Bill Beli-chick, the Patriots' head coach, to ask for permission to talk with me. Belichick got that call on Saturday night, December 4, while we were in Cleveland getting ready for our game the next day against the Browns. I was anxious to hear about what had transpired in the conversation between Bill and Kevin, but that wouldn't happen until Sunday morning, during our pregame meal, when Bill came up to me and said, "Notre Dame called last night. . . . I told them they could give you a call." Not that I was expecting him to tell me otherwise, but still it was a relief to hear that he had given his official blessing.

We beat the Browns, 42-15. On Tuesday morning, as we began game planning for our next opponent, Cincinnati, Kevin called to say he wanted to come to New England to interview me.

"When do you want to do that?" I asked.

"Today," he said.


"When are you available?"

"Any time after midnight."

"Excuse me?"

"Any time after midnight."


Excerpted from No Excuses
by Charlie Weis
Copyright © 2006 by Charlie Weis.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Charlie Weis lives in Indiana with his wife and children.

Vic Carucci is the national editor of and the coauthor of a number of bestsellers, including Do You Love Football?! with Jon Gruden and Sunday Morning Quarterback with Phil Simms. He lives in East Amherst, New York.

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