Sunday, January 01, 2006

Context is key | by Pat

Apparently not satisfied that Notre Dame and Ohio State geniunely seem to respect each other, the Columbus Dispatch looks to be straining a bit for bulletin board material to put up. In a recent article detailing Weis' drinking habits while at Notre Dame, the Dispatch ran this sub-item.

Lord of the rings

Weis’ ego continues to manifest itself for all to see. Asked which was more impressive, Weis’ four Super Bowl rings or Jim Tressel’s five national championship rings, the Irish coach raised his hand, motioned to the Super Bowl ring on his finger and said, "This one is bigger than all five of his put together."
Now, normally I don't let silly little things like this get me riled up, but this is a pretty obvious case of taking a quote out of context.

First off, I readily admit that Weis has a healthy ego. When he wants to be he can be about as cocky as anyone in football. But it's not like Weis to just come right out and badmouth an opponent like that. While a very straight forward speaker, he has always been very guarded about his statements regarding ND opponents and has been quick to offer praise to opposing coaches and players all season long.

From time to time I've read the pre and post-game press conferences transcripts and noticed a few quotes that sounded brash and a bit out of character. But when I'd watch the video of the presser, the tone and attitude were not at all in line with my original thoughts of bombast and braggadocio. And personally, I feel the same thing is in play here. It seems to me that the Dispatch is just trying to drum up something out of nothing.

So just what did Weis mean by that quote, then? Well, the Dayton Daily News actually included the context of the discussion, which was about recruiting. If you can pardon the slight editorialization in the form of the graphic ALLCAPS text, I think it's pretty obvious that Weis is talking about the effects of a Super Bowl ring versus that of a Division I and Division IAA championship ring while on the recruiting trail. For the time being we'll just overlook the fact that the Dispatch worded their quote differently than the one found here.

"When it comes to recruiting, unlike some head coaches, I like to hit the road and pound the pavement — because I think it makes a good statement if the head coach of Notre Dame is out on the road. It's the only way I know, and it's the only way it will be for me."

He won four Super Bowl rings (one with the New York Giants and three with the Pats) and isn't shy about using that jewelry to his advantage.

Asked if his four NFL titles trump OSU coach Jim Tressel's five national crowns, Weis flashed the hood-ornament-sized Super Bowl ring adorning his hand and said, "I think my ONE trumps his five."

His NFL background — and that bling-bling — give him instant credibility.

"If I go into a kid's house," he quipped, "and I can get him to look at my hand instead of my face, I think I've got a good chance."

Even overlooking the possibility that Weis was only talking about the size of the ring, Weis has mentioned the benefit of wearing the ring all year long. I don't see how the Dispatch could have twisted Weis' words into something other than a discussion over the benefits of walking into a recruit's living room wearing a Super Bowl ring.

While we're on the subject of the Dayton Daily News, I thought I'd mention a great story on Tom Zbikowski written by Tom Archdeacon, whom I consider one of the best sportswriters in the nation. It's a pity he isn't more widely read. Here's the article, which mentions Zbikowski and a few teammates sneaking out to Chicago last winter, unnoticed by the coaches, so that Zibby could fight in an undercard boxing match.