SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick plans to make a decision on the future of coach Charlie Weis within days of the season's end.
Swarbrick said Thursday that how he made his decision last fall, when he met with Weis three days after the season ended and told him he would be back, would be "fairly representative of the timing" of what he does this year.
The Fighting Irish play at home against Connecticut (4-5) on Saturday then play at No. 14 Stanford (7-3) in the regular-season finale on Nov. 28. Notre Dame (6-4) is hoping for a good bowl bid.
Swarbrick said the student-athletes are his primary concern because he knows the scrutiny of Weis is difficult for the team.
"I understand with everything that's swirling around it's tough on them. My interest is being responsive to their needs," he said.
The evaluation of Weis is an ongoing process, he said.
"But it gets more intense toward the last quarter of the season, the last third of the season. It's always happening, but you get a little more organized about it as you approach the end of the season," he said.
Swarbrick said he will take into account more than Weis' 35-25 record, which is the same winning percentage as his two predecessors.
He pointed out that NCAA graduation numbers released Wednesday show Weis is doing a good job. He said Weis is doing well in other areas, saying the football team does well in the classroom, doesn't have disciplinary issues and Weis does a good job of bringing in the types of student-athletes Notre Dame likes.
"Many, many of those other things that are important to our analysis are quite positive," Swarbrick said.
Swarbrick added, though, that the won-loss record is a "very important" part of the equation.
"Sports are about winning and losing and none of us shy away from that," he said.
Swarbrick said another factor he takes into consideration is how the student-athletes feel about a coach. A number of Irish players said this week they believe Weis should be allowed to come back for a sixth season.
"Coach Weis is, I think, just a great fit for what Notre Dame stands for and what this university is looking for," quarterback Jimmy Clausen said. "To be honest, a lot of people don't know who coach Weis is, what he's all about. He's a loving, caring guy. He treats all the guys on the team exactly the same as he treats his son Charlie Jr."
Defensive end John Ryan said Weis sets the tone for the team in his work ethic.
"He's a true success story in the way he's risen all the way up the ranks to what some would say is the pinnacle of the college profession," he said. "It's his work ethic. He's tireless. He doesn't stop working."
Weis said he won't spend any time Saturday thinking it could be his last home game as Notre Dame coach.
"Not one bit. That would be very selfish for me to do it, to start off with," he said. "I'd have to be very, very, very selfish for me to be thinking about anyone other than those fourth- and fifth-year players. I promise as far as I could ever tell I don't think those thoughts would ever enter my mind."