(MCT) — On Saturday night in Los Angeles, Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman contender Manti Te’o celebrated on the field as the Fighting Irish clinched a berth in the BCS championship game with a victory over Southern California.
Nearly 36 hours later, the coach that recruited Te’o to Notre Dame woke up in Lawrence, Kan., as his 1-10 football team went through a 5:30 a.m. workout.
These days, Charlie Weis’ tenure at Notre Dame may seem like a distant memory. Three years and three coaching stops later, Weis is now slogging through a choppy first season at Kansas, his first head coaching job since being fired at Notre Dame in 2009.
But as the Fighting Irish prepare to play for their first national title in more than two decades, Weis’ fingerprints remain on the roster at his alma mater. He knows this, even if he says he’d like to deflect the attention.
“The most important thing for me is to make sure that I stay low-profile and don’t try to take accolades for their success,” Weis said Monday during the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “I think that it’s really easy for a guy in my position to sit there and say ‘Yeah, they’re all my kids that they’re winning with,’ (and) be jealous and bitter and all that other stuff.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has molded the Irish into a 12-0 team in his third year in South Bend. And Irish quarterback Everett Golson was still in high school when Weis was fired at Notre Dame. But the Irish do feature two running backs (Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood), a tight end (Tyler Eifert) and four starting offensive linemen who were Weis recruits. The defense, meanwhile, has four starters that were part of Weis’ final two recruiting classes.
On Monday, Weis singled out Te’o, a native Hawaiian who chose Notre Dame over USC in 2009, and played one season under Weis.
“I love Manti,” Weis said. “Manti and I will be close the rest of our lives, as will his family and I.”
Weis led Notre Dame to two Bowl Championship Series games before finishing just 16-21 over his last three seasons.
“I think it’s important for me to understand that it’s their team,” Weis said of his former players. “It’s not my team. I have to worry about Kansas. But there’s a lot of young men that are having a lot of success this year that I’m very, very happy for.”