No Excuses: One Man’s Incredible Rise Through the NFL to Head Coach of Notre Dame by Charlie Weis with Vic Carucci
Book Review by C. Douglas Baker
No Excuses details the rise of Charlie Weis from a high school football coach to a stint as an offensive coordinator and head coaching candidate in the NFL to the head coach of the storied Notre Dame football program.
Weis certainly doesn’t have the resume of most prominent head football coaches in the NFL. As a Notre Dame undergrad, instead of diagramming plays and obsessing about football like so many other head coaches in his position, Weis longed for a career as a sports broadcaster.
Having also gotten a degree in English, Weis found himself teaching and coaching sports in high school where he started to learn the nuances of the game. Through contacts, Weis eventually wound up as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina.
While at South Carolina he did some grunt work breaking down plays for the New York Giants. Noticing his work ethic and acumen, Weis was eventually offered a job by head coach Bill Parcells. The job was low on the pecking order but it gave Weis his start in the NFL.
From there, of course, he climbed through the ranks, eventually following Bill Belichick, Parcells’ long time defensive coordinator, to the New England Patriots where he served as offensive coordinator.
Three Super Bowl championships later and a brush with death after gastric bypass surgery to control his weight, Weis was offered a job as head football coach at his alma mater, Notre Dame, a job he just couldn’t turn down.
This book really is not about football. It’s mostly about Weis’ rise through the ranks and his personal work and moral ethics that are the groundwork for what he teaches players and how he tries to conduct himself in the rough and tumble world of professional and big time college football.
Much of his coaching philosophy comes from his sports crazed childhood and current family life, in which he has a special needs child. He seems to have a very solid foundation for a job that requires a great deal of leadership and motivational skills.
The biggest drawback of the book is a lack of material about the biggest games Weis has been involved in as a coach and his football philosophy (the X’s and O’s). There’s little here about the day to day activities of a coach, nor is there a chronicling of the Patriots’ Super Bowl winning seasons which Weis was an integral part of.
Readers looking for a book about football or the New England Patriots (or the New York Giants) will be disappointed. I know I was, a little.
There is, however, a very good chronicling of Weis’ near death experience after gastric bypass surgery and how Tom Brady, the New England Patriots’ quarterback, helped his wife cope with the situation. It’s a rather touching story about Brady and gives insight into why he is so well liked around the league.
Overall, this is a very readable, engaging book and interesting for football fans—despite that it talks little about football specifically.