Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fumble!!!!!!!! Laughing At The Whole Holy Mess

Even way back when, when its football team was perennially excellent, I never cared much about, or for, Notre Dame. They always seemed to have a (literally) holier-than-thou arrogance that back in my formative sports fan years made me hate them along with the Yankees, Cowboys and Celtics. And combining my early distaste with an approximate 15 year run of mediocrity (and sometimes worse), I really don't quite understand -- or perhaps more correctly respect -- why Notre Dame maintains this elite stature, er, posture. I mean, I guess they have a powerful following that earns them major play in the Chicago media, special status in the BCS, invitations to bowl games they may not deserve, and supposedly, attractiveness to players and coaches. But though the coverage of them is unavoidable, I've largely done my best not to pay much attention. I can't even tell you what the football team's record is this year (ok, I just looked it up, they're 6-5 and headed to the Insight Bowl). And while my not being Catholic has never mattered to me in rooting for (or at least not against) DePaul, Marquette, Villanova or other Catholic universities, Notre Dame has always seemed to overtly cloak itself in its Catholism, which only has added to my disdain and disinterest.

So from a football fan's standpoint (and I'm not a huge follower of college football), I felt no particular outrage at the firing of Tyrone Willingham as Notre Dame's football coach, as I'm not well enough aware of his strengths & weaknesses. Based on what I knew of prior not-so-successful ND coaches (Gerry Faust, Bob Davie) fulfilling their 5 year contracts despite rancor among the faithful, it seemed somewhat unfair to dump Willingham in his 3rd season. By many accounts, including Notre Dame's explanatory press conference, Ty was a man of integrity, with the respect of his players, an upstanding demeanor and a strong record in facilitating the academic development of his players. But in the eyes of the powers that be in South Bend, and among their seemingly buffoonish, self-righteous fat cat alumni boosters, he just didn't win enough.

Others can argue if racism played a factor in the alumni's demand that Willingham (who is black) be canned, but supposedly the ND Nation was hoping to lure Urban Meyer, a former Irish assistant who is the hot coach of the moment after leading Utah to an 11-0 season . And supposedly the interest was mutual, but despite Notre Dame's rapid overtures, Meyer chose to take the job at Florida for much more money and -- aided by lesser admission standards that Notre Dame wouldn't budge on -- a better chance of winning.

So now, the proud and mighty Notre Dame University is flailing around (much resembling the bumbling Chicago Bears organization) trying to find a coach and getting shot down by all the high profile names, like Jon Gruden and Steve Mariucci. They're now wooing a guy named Tom Clements, a former ND quarterback and current Offensive Coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Though I've never heard of him, he seems to be a popular choice among ND followers, at least according to the Tribune. So if they don't get him, they'll really have egg all over their face and nowhere obvious to turn.

Keep in mind Willingham himself was hired after a fiasco involving the hiring-then-firing of George O'Leary for falsifying his resume. And though not overwhelmingly successful, Willingham had won his first 8 games in his inaugural 2002 season, restoring some prominence to Notre Dame, led them to a bowl game this year (though he won't be coaching it), upheld the academic standards ND claims are so important to them and didn't even get to see any of his recruiting classes through to fruition. If only Notre Dame hadn't fired him, he'd be their best head coaching candidate.

Oh what a holy mess. And I can't help but laugh. Morons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Death to Notre Dame! I simply loath them because their fans are so nutzoid about them. The team I love to hate. I concede they play so far above their school size, and do well for that fact. Hmmmm, who to support if ND plays Purdue....