On Saturday in a 23-20 loss to South Florida, cameras caught Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly cursing vehemently at quarterback Tommy Rees after Rees threw an interception inside the 5-yard line.
The outburst received plenty of national attention, putting the Fighting Irish squarely at the forefront of the opening-weekend discussion and even leading the National Catholic Register to question whether Notre Dame should fire Brian Kelly.
Cursing on camera isn’t on the agenda for Charlie Weis, Notre Dame’s former head coach, though.
“As a matter of fact, when [players] first come off the field, I don’t talk to them,” Weis said. “Whether it was good or bad, I don’t talk to them.”
After a couple years in the spotlight at Notre Dame, Weis has learned better. The focus on every small move coaches make at big-time programs like Notre Dame and Florida forces coaches to adjust.
“If [the play] was good, I let the players all celebrate together so that I’m not looking for the kudos,” Weis said. “If it’s bad, at the same time, the camera’s there looking to see what you’re going to say. That’s not the time.”
So Weis waits a little bit.
“Let them get to the bench, let them go ahead and sit down and then you can go over and say ‘hey, what were you thinking? … and there might be an adjective or two in there,” he said.
Weis, who stood on the Gators’ sideline during a nationally televised Florida game for the first time Saturday night has enjoyed working with his new players down on the field.
Head coach Will Muschamp elected to keep his coordinators down on the field in a transition year with new schemes being installed on both sides of the ball.
Asked if he enjoyed being down on the sidelines, Weis cracked a wry smile and explained why he does.
“If you’re asking me if I liked getting fired from Notre Dame as the head coach, then no,” he chuckled. “As an offensive coordinator, that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve always done the exact same thing where you sit there, and when I’m on the field you could sit there and just have a conversation and go over things and it’s kind of settling for [the quarterbacks].”
Saturday night, Weis could be seen working with his quarterbacks down on the sideline when the special teams or defense was on the field.
He coached them up and was pleased with the way senior quarterback John Brantley ran the offense. Brantley only made one mental mistake, he said.
Meanwhile, Weis also had the chance to work with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, who came into the game midway through the second quarter with Florida leading 24-0.
Driskel quickly scrambled for two short gains.
“There was no one open on the play,” Weis said. “He’s very, very athetic. The one thing with the young guy, I don’t encourage this from No. 12 by the way, you allow him to do that. You don’t discourage [Driskel] from pulling the ball down and going. Because a lot of times that’s better than the alternative of them trying to force the ball down the field and having something bad happen.”
On his first third-down attempt in college, something bad did happen, though. Driskel threw a pass ten feet over his tight end’s head for an interception.
He trotted to the sidelines, but there was no cursing Brian Kelly waiting for him.
The true freshman went and sat down on the bench next to Brantley. Brantley calmly got up and motioned to Driskel to move over closer to Weis.
Calmly, quietly and effectively, Weis told his true freshman quarterback what he needed to hear. Instead of irritating the fan base with a caught-on-camera, profanity-laced tirade, Weis earned some on-air praise from the ESPNU commentating crew for his teaching ability.
Sometimes, it’s all in the delivery.