November 19, 2008

Mystery surrounds Irish OC

South Bend, Ind. - Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis announced that he would continue to call plays the final two weeks of the regular season after taking over the reins last week against Navy. He said offensive coordinator Mike Haywood would miss a day or two of practice this week for "personal reasons," just as he did last week when he returned home following the death of a family member in Houston.

Expected to speak with the media Tuesday night it had been approved by Weis earlier that morning Haywood declined an interview request while speaking with Brian Hardin, Notre Dame's director of football media relations.

Haywood left South Bend last Wednesday to return to Houston for the funeral of his 24-year-old cousin, who had passed away after a long illness. Weis said he would take over Haywood's play-calling duties for the Navy game and then make a decision for the final two regular-season games against Syracuse and Southern California.

Clouding the issue was Weis' announcement that Haywood would be spending time away from the program again this week.

"Mike Haywood is going to be missing some practice for personal reasons," Weis said. "I support these personal reasons. But he'll be missing some practice again. And with that being said, followed up by a short week next week, for the rest of the regular season I will be handling the play-calling on offense."

Weis deflected follow-up questions pertaining to the long-term play-calling decision.

"I just want to get through these two weeks," Weis said. "Then we have [a bowl] game that we're anticipating, and we can revisit it at that time."

Asked if Haywood's time away was tied to issues from last week, Weis said: "I support his personal issues. So this is not like there's any friction with anyone. He's got some things that he needs to deal with, and I'm supportive of that. He asked me to leave it at that, and I told him I would."

A Notre Dame official confirmed late Tuesday that Haywood's "personal issues" were not tied to last week's tragedy or any other health issues pertaining to Haywood and his family.

Junior halfback James Aldridge said he and the troops would be able to make it through the next two weeks without constant supervision from Haywood.

"He's instilled stuff in us that's kind of been concrete for a while now," Aldridge said. "We can kind of coach ourselves, especially with us being led by Ace [senior fullback Asaph Schwapp as an older guy. He's been here since Day One really.

"We can coach ourselves. We can coach up younger guys. It's good to have him there because we probably need a ripping every ... so often. Other than that we handle it well without him being around sometimes."

Weis stepped in and coached the running backs last Wednesday and Thursday in Haywood's absence. Haywood met the team in Baltimore and coached from the press box for the Navy game.




 

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