By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND -- Success for Notre Dame football does not necessarily mean playing for the national championship every year, but it does mean being in the discussion for a Bowl Championship Series berth, coach Charlie Weis said Friday.
"I don't think you can be just a mediocre team at Notre Dame. I'm not saying you're playing for the national championship game every year. But you have to be in the discussion," Weis said before the team's football banquet. "If you're not in the discussion, I don't think that's what anyone who went to Notre Dame or roots for Notre Dame would ever be looking for."
The Irish, whose 20 year championship drought is the longest in school history, went to BCS bowls during Weis' first two seasons. The past two years, however, the Irish have gone 3-9 and 6-6, leading to speculation Weis might be fired despite having seven years left on his 10-year contract.
Weis admitted he had a restless night's sleep after the 38-3 loss to USC on Saturday when he stayed in Los Angeles to recruit. He traded text messages with athletic director Jack Swarbrick when he woke up in the middle of the night. After two recruiting visits Sunday, Weis talked to the Rev. John Jenkins, the university president, by telephone on Monday. Then he met with Swarbrick in San Jose, Calif., to discuss his future and the future of the program.
Weis and Swarbrick didn't see eye-to-eye on everything, but agreed generally on what changes need to be made, Weis said. Weis, like Swarbrick earlier in the week, declined to talk about what changes will be made other than to say some of the changes would be obvious and others more subtle.
Jenkins and Swarbrick wants to know three things from Weis: whether he would be happy returning to Notre Dame; what would be his commitment if he came back; and whether he would be accountable.
"I told them without a doubt that I would be happy to be here and would appreciate the support of Father John and Jack," said Weis, speaking to the media for the first time since after the USC game.
Weis said he's confident he can be successful.
"I don't think it's going to be five years down the road or 10 years down the road for that answer to come to fruition. Because you've gone from three wins to six wins, now what's it going to be?" he said. "I think we'll all have a better answer for that question sitting here this time next year."
Former Irish standout Joe Theismann, the banquet speaker, said before the banquet that he believes Weis can be successful and is glad he was given a chance to return, saying he doesn't think a change would have been good for the school.
"How do I evaluate Charlie? I know he has to do a better job," Theismann said. "He'll sit here and tell you he needs to a better job. I'm not naive to stick my head in the sand and say, 'We're OK.' We're not OK. But we can be. That's what I look for."
Asked to assess his performance the past four years, Weis said he would break his four years into two stages, the first two years when they went 9-3 and 10-3, and the next two years they lost 15 games, the most ever in two seasons at Notre Dame.
"Last year we were a crummy team that very often was noncompetitive. This year I thought we were a decent football team that blew three double-digit leads in games. You are what you are, as Bill (Parcells) always said. But the difference between 6-6 and 9-3 is blowing three double-digit leads."
Weis also spoke indirectly to reports by some fans and some in the media that Weis is brash and arrogant, saying he went out of his way this season to make sure his players knew what he is really like.
"I think that the players now know the other side of me that most other people don't know. Probably the side I get scrutinized the most for, they know the other side. I don't think there's any of them that doesn't," he said.
Weis said they have to know that so they can understand why he is so hard on them.
"Because once the players know both sides of you, it allows you to coach them hard," he said. "And we're going to need some hard coaching."