http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/arash_markazi/12/28/blog.ariz/index.html Blown away by Weis by Arash Markazi What can I say? The big guy had me at "Hey, fellas." Anyone who knows Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis will tell you that's the way he greets everyone, from players to coaches to the media, when he sees them. The first time I heard him utter those words in person was when I was standing in the center of the visitors' locker room following the dramatic USC-Notre Dame game this season. While the Trojans were celebrating their wild victory, Weis waltzed in and silenced the group with his mere presence. "Hey, fellas," he said. "I just want to wish you luck. That was a hard-fought battle and I hope you win out." Weis then patted a couple assistant coaches on the back and walked out as the team applauded him. It was one of the classiest gestures I've ever seen from a head coach, and not one that I expected Weis to top as I drove to Scottsdale Community College on Tuesday for Notre Dame's first practice in the desert. But somehow, Weis did. Leaning against a green cart, Weis, still decked out in the black shirt, slacks and shoes, was joking with some assistant coaches and needling some student managers when Tyler Bruggman, an 11-year-old fan, walked up. Wearing his silver and black Pop Warner jersey, Bruggman, who came to practice with his father, Curt, a life-long Notre Dame fan who teaches at Scottsdale Community College, simply wanted an autograph from Weis. Weis smiled, shook Bruggman's hand, signed his hat and noticed the young man looking at Weis' obscenely large Super Bowl championship ring. "Do you want to try it on?" Weis asked. While Bruggman was left speechless, Weis took off his ring. "Here," he said as he handed the pricey piece of jewelry to the kid. "Put it on." Bruggman, grinning from ear to ear, put the ring on and clinched his fist tightly so it wouldn't fall out of his tiny index finger. He then took a picture with Weis, who smiled just as wide as Bruggman for the camera. What transpired next is what makes Charlie Weis, Charlie Weis. He noticed Bruggman's No. 11 jersey and asked him if he played football. "Yeah, I'm a quarterback," he said. "Who's your favorite player," Weis asked. "Tom Brady," Bruggman answered. Weis smiled and gestured the kid to come closer. "Check this out," he said as he pulled out his cell phone and scrolled through a who's who list of football greats, Belichick, Bettis...before highlighting Brady. "Should we call him?" Weis asked. "Do you want to talk to him?" Still speechless, Bruggman simply nodded his head. "Hold on," Weis said as he pushed his cell phone to call Brady. "Let's see if he picks up. If he doesn't, you're going to hear some loud music [that he put on] so people who shouldn't have the number hang up." After a few rings Weis shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, he's not there... listen." He then handed the phone to Bruggman, who couldn't believe he was even listening to Brady's voice mail. Weis continued to engage Bruggman in conversation. "So you any good?" he asked. "Can you sling it?" Bruggman smiled and nodded his head, prompting Weis to ask for a football from one of the equipment managers. "Let's see," he said. As the kid grabbed a football, Weis joked with Curt Bruggman, who was standing nearby. "I hope this isn't a recruiting violation," Weis said. After Tyler threw a couple of tight spirals to the equipment manager, Weis raised his eyebrows and said, "Not bad." He then shook hands with the Bruggmans and thanked them for coming to practice. "He didn't have to do that," said Curt Bruggman afterward. "He didn't know us. He did it because he wanted to. He is so down to earth and warm to kids. It was such a special moment for my son." If that wasn't enough, Weis walked to the edge of the practice field, where a group of kids from a local youth organization were assembled, and spoke to them for a few minutes. "You know what makes those guys over there special?" Weis said, pointing to his players behind him. "They're not only good football players, but they're also good students. It's important to be good students. I had a couple of guys who weren't good students and I didn't bring them on the trip." As the kids eyed the players behind Weis, the coach smiled and asked, "You want to meet them? OK, do this for me. Go and point out the ugliest one and ask him for an autograph. I'll help you out with the first one." Weis then pointed to tight end Anthony Fasano. "Hey Anthony!" As soon as Fasano turned around the kids ran toward the tight end. "OK, OK, [Brady] Quinn hop in there and help out," Weis said as he walked toward his players. "You too Darius [Walker]. C'mon and meet with these kids." While the kids got autographs and took pictures with all the players, Weis walked over to a group of players who had just gotten a drink and were slowly walking toward the kids. "Hey, fellas," he said. "Let's go. It's not about you right now." With Weis, it seems, it never is. .