Swarbrick: Didn't see Navy loss coming

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- No decision has been made yet regarding the future of Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, according to athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

Swarbrick, one of two men who will decide Weis' future, said Thursday that he expects to make an announcement about whether to keep Weis within about a week after the season ends.

"I don't have a timetable," Swarbrick said. "Last year, it was within a week of the regular season."

As for what influences the decision, Swarbrick said: "It's more art than science. It's an overall impression. Every situation is different."

He added that a number of factors are considered in the process. Performance on the field, academic performance of the team and recruiting are among the things he will consider.

Swarbrick said he and university president Rev. John I. Jenkins are the only two involved in the ultimate decision.

Swarbrick said he already has started this year's evaluation of Weis. He said he begins to focus on it during the last four weeks or last third of the season.

Asked how much of an impact Notre Dame's last two games could have on the decision about Weis, Swarbrick said, "We don't isolate any game or games."

When asked what his biggest disappointment has been this season, Swarbrick took a long pause, then said, "the Navy outcome."

Notre Dame had a 6-2 record going into the game against Navy on Nov. 7, but lost 23-21. It was the second loss to Navy under Weis in the past three years.

Being in contention to play in a BCS bowl game was a clear expectation for Swarbrick heading into this season. He said the Fighting Irish had been in good position to attain that goal, and were "building nice momentum" before the Navy loss.

"Up until the Navy game we were in the BCS conversation," Swarbrick said. "We didn't see that one coming."

Swarbrick gets frequent e-mails and letters from fans and alumni. Asked how much support there is for Weis among those e-mails and letters, Swarbrick said, "I'm not in a position to quantify it."

Swarbrick said comments about the Notre Dame football program in public forums, such as message boards or newspapers, tend to be from critics. "I wish the tenor and nature of some of that stuff would be different than it is," he said. "It's great that they're writing about us.

"What comes to me is more balanced," he said. "A lot of people write in a supportive way."

Swarbrick said he speaks with Weis "all the time" but has not yet talked with Weis -- whom he also praised for his dedication to Notre Dame -- about his future there.

"His love of the institution is about as high as it gets," Swarbrick said. "He's extraordinarily generous. He cares about his kids. He's never been anything but cordial and professional in our relationship."

George Smith is a reporter for ESPN.