SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said three weeks ago that he looked forward to Charlie Weis being football coach "for a long time."
That statement now seems like it was made a long time ago.
Since then, the Irish (6-6) have:
• Survived Navy nearly rallying from being 20 points down to come within a play of beating Notre Dame a second straight year.
• Given up two fourth-quarter touchdowns to Syracuse to lose 24-23 to an Orange squad that finished with nine losses.
• Lost 38-3 to USC on Saturday, the second most lopsided loss for the Irish in the 80-year rivalry. The most lopsided loss was last year's 38-0.
That unpleasant run to finish the season is just one factor Swarbrick will have to consider in deciding whether to bring back Weis, who has seven years left on the 10-year contract he signed midway through his first season as Irish coach.
Swarbrick has repeatedly said he will look at a myriad of factors when evaluating Weis, including the team's graduation rate, grade-point average and other issues, such as recruiting and the relationship between players and coaches, which he termed as "great."
Notre Dame has tracked the football team's GPA since 1992. Before Weis arrived, the highest team GPA was 2.911. Since Weis arrived, the team's GPA has been 3.0 or above for six straight semesters.
But Weis hasn't graded out nearly as well on the field. After going 3-9 last season, the Irish have lost 15 games the past two seasons, two more losses than the previous high in a two-year span.
The loss to USC leaves Weis with a 28-21 record through four seasons. That's a winning percentage of .571, below the .583 of his two predecessors Willingham and Bob Davie.
Weis did not hold his usual postgame news conference Sunday because he stayed on the West Coast to recruit. He's expected to return to South Bend on Thursday, a day before the team's annual football banquet, and is scheduled to meet with Swarbrick on Dec. 8. The two usually meet every Monday at 6 p.m., but this meeting could have added significance.
When asked immediately after the game whether he had received any assurances about his job, Weis said he wasn't worried about that, saying he was going to continue working as the head coach until he's told not to. He said while he was disappointed in his team's play against USC, he wasn't disappointed in the effort, saying the Irish played with passion and emotion throughout.
"That still not enough to win, but that's still the fact," he said. "It's the fourth quarter and these guys are still fighting their butts off. If you would have seen that not being the case, besides the production and the X's and O's, then you'd see there's a major problem."