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Changes are necessary to make Notre Dame football great

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, November 2, 2004

I’m writing this letter because I have finally ‘had it’ with Notre Dame football. I fully expected the Irish to beat Boston College and beat them handily. On paper, Notre Dame was and should be the better team. At halftime, even with the score 20-7 in our favor, I like everyone else felt it should have been a much larger deficit for Boston College with all of the opportunities they gave us to blow the game wide open. We all know how it worked out. Once again, our football team lost a game that we should not have lost for the third time this season. The Brigham Young University loss I looked past after the great victory against Michigan. I just believed the team overlooked them in preparation for the revenge match. I had a very difficult time swallowing the Purdue loss. I did not believe they had an athletic advantage over us going into the game. Yes, they had a senior quarterback who was playing well. But, we had shown that we could beat a good team at home with our victory over the University of Michigan. Of course, Purdue has now lost two home games, one of which to a team we beat. And the Boston College loss makes me absolutely sick for so many reasons, they are innumerable.

This letter is not meant to slander Coach Willingham and his staff. I believe he is a great representative of the University. The players have shown great class in victory and defeat. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie. Coach Willingham has lost seven games by 25 or more points. He is 1-2 against Purdue, 0-3 against Boston College, and 0-2 against the University of Southern California with another loss extremely likely in a few weeks. I could go on with more statistics to show how poor his record is compared to previous Notre Dame coaches through three seasons. I fully expected this team to progress in his third season, especially after the Michigan victory. (That was the first time we looked like Notre Dame since the victory against Florida State University two years ago.) Unfortunately, they have done the exact opposite.

For me, it is very simple: I want to be Notre Dame again on the football field. I want to win games we are expected to win. I want to win games we aren’t expected to win. I want to make halftime adjustments. I want our team to be the aggressor. Heck, I wouldn’t mind the occasional tunnel fight like we had against Miami in ’88 and USC in ’89. I want us to show teams that we do not lose in Rockne’s House. I want teams to be intimidated again when they are at Notre Dame Stadium. And I want the Notre Dame team to be more focused when they hit the road because they have to be in order to win.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe these things that I want to happen will happen under the current regime. It is not a matter of talent any more. We have a few horses. We don’t have the trainers. The ongoing experiment the University has run the last 11 years to do things “right” in the football program, whatever this might mean, has not worked. “Right” to me is when the Notre Dame football program is as large and encompassing as the University itself. We need a coaching staff that brings us back to this level, and an administration that embraces this ideal. Maybe then, I will be able to stomach the occasional loss to a Big Ten team, or worse, Boston College.

I am tired of the bookstore having to sell paraphernalia advertising the “Glory Days” because they don’t have anything to sell with respect to the present-day program.

Mark Mikiciuk

alumni

Class of ’97, ’03 MBA

Oct. 29