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Friends say Patriot's Weis has accepted Notre Dame job

| Monday, Dec. 13, 2004

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has told friends he has accepted the Notre Dame coaching job, returning to the school he graduated from in 1978 but never played.

Mark Bavaro, a former Notre Dame player who was with the New York Giants while Weis was on the staff, said Weis told him Saturday that he was taking the job at Notre Dame.

"He was excited, but he was much more concerned about the Cincinnati game today," Bavaro said Sunday. "That's the way he is, very focused."

Dr. Jim Benenati, who roomed with Weis for four years at Notre Dame, said Weis had told him he has agreed to take the job and he was excited about becoming a head coach.

"It's the greatest thing that could ever happen to the school, and probably the best thing that could ever happen for Charlie," said Benenati, a radiologist in Miami.

Weis will attempt to restore the school to the powerhouse program it was when he attended the university as an undergraduate while Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine coached the Fighting Irish.

Associate athletic director John Heisler said yesterday afternoon that the school "was not in a position to make an announcement yet."

"We're not prepared to say it's official yet," he said.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft was asked after New England defeated Cincinnati yesterday about Weis.

"Tomorrow, when they announce it," he said, declining further comment.

Weis was not available after the game.

ESPN reported that Weis has agreed to a six-year contract worth about $2 million a year.

Weis was considered a candidate for an NFL head coaching job this year, just as he had been last season. The Patriots' long playoff run last year hampered Weis' hopes, though. He interviewed with the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills, but an NFL rule prohibits assistants from being hired while their teams are in the playoffs.

He could have faced a similar obstacle this year.

The door at Notre Dame opened, though, after Tyrone Willingham was fired on Nov. 30 with a 21-15 record over three years. Urban Meyer accepted the Florida job after meeting with Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White and the Rev. John Jenkins, the incoming university president.

The Irish then focused on Weis, Bills offensive coordinator and former Irish quarterback Tom Clements and Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, a former Irish assistant.

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