Weis: 'To hell with Michigan' comment meant out of respect to Schembechler

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis violated his own rule about never providing opponents any bulletin board material.

It didn't happen while talking to reporters, but instead speaking before a group of Notre Dame supporters at a breakfast before the Blue-Gold game last April. He was talking about his expectations for this season, saying his team would make a statement in its opening game against San Diego State.

"Then we'll listen to Michigan have all their excuses as they come running in and saying how they have a new coaching staff and there's changes. To hell with Michigan," Weis said in a video that can be seen on YouTube.

At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Weis said the last comment was made out of respect for Bo Schembechler. The former Michigan coach, who died in 2006, was known on more than one occasion to say, "To hell with Notre Dame" -- most notably when the Irish turned down a chance to join the Big Ten.

Weis said he knew his comment would come up this week. Over the summer he had a laugh about it with Schembechler's son, Shemy, a scout for the Washington Redskins.

"Anyone who is a Michigan fan should know and understand that that comment pays respect to Bo and his mentality versus when playing an opponent," he said. "So take it for what it's worth. But I think that's a very respectful comment toward Coach Bo's 'To hell with Notre Dame.'"

Perhaps. But there's still the part about listening to Michigan (1-1) making excuses heading into its game Saturday at Notre Dame (1-0).

The comments come as a bit of a surprise because of how hard Weis works to keep his players from providing inspiration to opponents. A player who has made a comment to the media that Weis doesn't like has been known to be unavailable for interviews for a week or two.

Weis has gone as far as limiting what players can say. Two years ago before the Michigan game the Irish would barely acknowledge they had even heard of the Wolverines, responding to almost every question reporters asked by saying they were focusing on "fundamentals and technique."

Last season, Weis acknowledged he would use Michigan tailback Mike Hart's guarantee of a win over the Irish to motivate his team.

"If anyone wants to give you a layup, you're going to use the layup," Weis said.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez was asked Monday if Weis' comment would make its way to the bulletin board.

"It might. I'll let y'all have a little fun with that," he said.

Michigan players said the quote already had been posted shortly after Weis said it.

"It was plastered all over our training room," said defensive end Tim Jamison, who hasn't seen the video. "Now that we're about to face Notre Dame, we can look back at that. To some people it helps. That's why you've got to watch what you say."

It's not the first time that Weis' offseason comments have provided incentive. Two years ago there were reports that Weis told a group of supporters in the summer of 2006, after losing 44-41 in overtime to Michigan State in 2005, that he would never lose to the Spartans again.

There was no video of those comments, but Michigan State players said the reports fired them up. When asked about it then, Weis refused to comment. The words didn't help the Spartans, though. Michigan State led by 16 points heading into the fourth quarter, but the Irish rallied to win 40-37.

Weis said Tuesday he always respects opponents.

"I think that there isn't a time that I go into a game against an opponent where I don't feel that I'm respectful to the team we're going against," he said.

Some in Michigan might not agree.

"At least Bo's kid got it," Weis said.