Showing loyalty to excellence
Observer Viewpoint | Monday, November 15, 2004
As the final seconds ticked away this past Saturday, and I watched what used to be the most storied college football program in the nation suffer yet another inexplicable and record breaking defeat to a clearly less talented football team, I could not help but think back to The Observer Viewpoint written by Kellie Middleton on Nov. 10.
I thought back to how she lectured and patronized all of those ignorant and un-enlightened alumni who could not possibly understand that Notre Dame is right on the cusp of returning to the elite of college football. She chided those over-demanding dark sheep of the Notre Dame community for not even being smart enough to understand how good we have it.
I thought of what she, and others like her, must use as evidence that this once proud football program has turned the proverbial corner and it made me nauseous.
The excuse making, rationalizations of mediocrity, and woefully obvious lack of leadership that this coaching staff continues to provide Our Lady’s university with on a weekly basis is no longer defendable. It is not being a band-wagon fan and it is not being fickle; many fans have been preaching these same sentiments now for a number of months and even years. With each broken streak, with each historic defeat, and with each shameful attempt at lowering expectations this staff further demonstrates that it can not and will not ever provide this program with a National Championship under its “stewardship”.
There are clearly still very talented athletes everywhere in this program, although with each passing year this staff’s inability to sell Notre Dame to young men poses a threat to that reality, how else can you explain beating teams such as Michigan and Tennessee? The reason this team follows up big victories with such mystifying defeats as those against BYU, Boston College and Pittsburgh goes straight to the top. This staff has shown it can not prepare this team week in and week out to compete at the high level we should expect. From the team giving up at Syracuse last year to being annihilated by an average Purdue team this year, the evidence is all around us. With each attempted rationalization that “We will have a winning season” and that “Next year will be different” this football program spirals further and further into irrelevance.
Throughout Notre Dame’s history, the University has been committed to excellence in all facets. From academia to the playing field, excuses should not be an option. It is not parity, academic restrictions, lack of talent, or the schedule that has caused this football program to slide further and further from what should be its goal. The problem is those who were entrusted with guiding it. These same men who blame “player execution” for painfully obvious shortcomings in preparation and the consistent inability to adjust do not deserve to be patrolling the same sidelines once occupied by Leahy, Ara and Lou.
The problem is the coaching. If the University truly believes in excelling at everything that it does and that a proud tradition should be kept alive, a change must be made. On the other hand, if it follows Middleton’s advice and continues to harbor mediocrity; it can continue printing T-shirts in celebration of beating Top 25 Teams and turn away from the thousands of people across the country that have lived and died with Notre Dame Football for decades. These people are not bad fans Middleton, they are loyal to something they truly believe is important – something they hope and even beg can be made great once again.
class of ’03