You've heard the big news on the college coaching carousel: Charlie Weis is out after five seasons at Notre Dame.
That leads us to the next question many New England football fans are asking: Might Weis return to the New England Patriots?
It's not as crazy as it might sound, says Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who wrote on Monday that the Patriots are at the top of the list of teams that could consider Weis for an offensive coordinator position next season.
The Patriots currently do not have an offensive coordinator — head coach Bill Belichick has handed over most of the play-calling responsibilities to quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien — so Weis could be a logical fit for the position he left following the Patriots' Super Bowl win in February of 2005. Weis has obvious ties to Belichick — he coached under him for five seasons — and is said to still have a close relationship with quarterback Tom Brady.
"I think that Charlie has had a significant role in Tom's development and overall strategy and some fundamentals and techniques and just game management," Belichick said in a news conference before that Super Bowl.
Under Weis' guidance, Brady was twice selected to the Pro Bowl and became the first quarterback to start and win three Super Bowls before turning 28.
"He sets the tone for every meeting, every practice, and he has since the day I got here," Brady said prior to Super Bowl XXXIX.
But Brady and the Pats have come a long way in five years, making another Super Bowl appearance, flirting with a perfect season and playing in several more Pro Bowls. It's fair to wonder how the 53-year-old former Golden Domer and his — ahem — strong personality would fare with a now 32-year-old Brady in the prime of his career.
"Weis was vital to Tom Brady in his formative years," King suggests, "but Brady's all grown up now, so it's reasonable to wonder if Belichick would view Brady as needing Weis after five seasons without him."
Would Weis have something to offer the Pats? Very possibly. But does Brady need him? Hardly.
And with a reported $18 million left on his contract with Notre Dame prior to his firing, money he will still be paid, Weis doesn't exactly need to go out Tuesday and start beating down doors in search of a new source of income.
A bit of financial security might be a good thing for Weis, though, since he hasn't done much to enhance his resume since leaving the Pats. The Notre Dame alum went 35-27 in his five seasons in South Bend. In Weis' first two years, the Fighting Irish played in two BCS bowl games, losing to Ohio State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl and getting crushed by LSU in the 2007 Sugar Bowl. But over Weis' final three seasons, Notre Dame went just 16-21.
Yet NFL teams are still reportedly interested in him. ESPN.com and other media outlets have reported that Weis has said that he's already heard from "roughly six NFL teams" about possibly becoming their offensive coordinator next season.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is confident Weis will move on and could wind up back in the NFL.
"He'll add some Super Bowl rings to the ones he already has as a successful coordinator in the NFL and we will miss him," Swarbrick said Monday.
But is a return to New England in the cards for the brash, self-confident Weis?
Despite his connections to Belichick and Brady, it doesn't seem like the right fit. No, the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl crown since Weis' departure, but the Patriots offense has done just fine, thank you, without the mastermind over the past four-plus seasons. Belichick, too, has a predilection for lesser-known, up-and-coming assistants willing to take a relative backseat and do their jobs without much in the way of fanfare — like Weis circa 2000. Bringing back Weis now seems to fly in the face of both of those sentiments.
More likely landing spots for Weis? Kansas City — with Brady disciple Matt Cassel and Chiefs GM (and former Pats vice president of player personnel) Scott Pioli — seems like a fit on the surface, especially given the midseason removal of former coordinator Chan Gailey. King also mentions Carolina, Indianapolis and Chicago as possibilities.
Another head-coaching gig isn't out of the question, either, whether it's in college or in the pros. Might some mid-major school take a gamble on a big-name, big-talking, big-personality leader like Weis? Absolutely. Isiah Thomas has a job, doesn't he?
But with the economy the way it is, there isn't a huge market right now for overconfident, overpaid and underachieving head coaches. And that's likely to be the perception of Weis until he's able to get in the right situation and prove otherwise.