John Vannie | Sunday, April 25, 2004
Andrew Soukup’s April 23 column contained comments by John Heisler and Dave Duerson that perfectly illustrated the reason Notre Dame alumni are frustrated with the state of the football problem. Heisler believes the Irish are on the verge of returning to the nation’s elite, but he adds that the process is a long one that can’t suffer “knee-jerk” reactions when a team has a losing season.”You can’t just flick a switch and guarantee that you’ll win games by doing that,” Heisler said. “It’s not that simple. It’s a building process.”Duerson states, “Every program has its ups and downs, but that is not indicative of the direction the program is heading,” he said, later adding, “It’s time to move on [from the criticism]. Nobody is more upset about last year’s finish than those student-athletes and the coaching staff.”Both statements demonstrate the administration’s feeble attempt to characterize alumni dissatisfaction as an inappropriate reaction to one poor season. In fact, the football program has been in decline for 10 years, with an unprecedented three losing seasons in the last five. Alumni should not be ridiculed for stating the obvious. Until this administration acknowledges the problem and commits to fixing it, Notre Dame football will remain mired in mediocrity.The letter to the Board of Trustees signed by 412 alumni and endorsed by thousands of others was a painful yet necessary call to action. The only knee-jerk reaction in this entire process was the ill-advised response issued under the auspices of the Monogram Club without the knowledge or approval of its membership.It’s time for the administration to quit circling the wagons. It missed a chance to open a private dialogue with alumni by failing to respond to the letter, but it’s not too late. The passion displayed by concerned alumni can easily be parlayed into a vast reservoir of emotional and financial support if Notre Dame ceases its attempt to keep them at arms length.
John VanniealumnusClass of 1975April 25