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Community responds to Willingham’s departure

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, December 1, 2004


Notre Dame realizes after three years of mediocrity that it doesnt have the coach that can get the program where it needs to be so it fires him. All of a sudden, according to all the so-called NCAAF experts, Notre Dame “panicked,” Notre Dame “didn’t give him a chance,” the firing was “racially motivated,” Notre Dame was exposed as “no different than all the other football factories.”

That’s reflective of the number one issue in America today – no one wants anyone to be held accountable for their actions or results (much less themselves). Poor performance is always someone else’s fault, or can be blamed on one’s abusive parents, broken home or ethnicity.

Coach Tyrone Willingham knew going in exactly what the job entailed and exactly what was expected … put a consistent winner on the field. If he didn’t think he could do it, he shouldn’t have taken the job. Neither should Urban Meyer or anyone else take the job now and claim three, five or 20 years from now that the coaching environment at Notre Dame is brutal. Brutal schedule, brutal academic requirements, crappy weather, demanding alumni, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. If you aren’t up to the challenge, don’t take the job. If you are going to whine about the situation, don’t take the job.

Unfortunately, Willingham was not doing the things that needed to be done to achieve the abovementioned objective (put a consistent winner on the field). He was getting blown out of games at an unprecedented rate. He wasn’t recruiting enough impact freshmen. He couldn’t win over the hearts of the alumni, students, etc. He lost to teams he clearly should have beaten. Worst of all, there was no momentum in the program … no success trajectory … things were not obviously getting better. Willingham was fired for the same reasons everyday Americans in challenging jobs get fired – not because he is a bad person, not because he is black, not because he can’t be successful somewhere else. Because he couldnt get it done at Notre Dame and there was no convincing evidence that things were improving.

Go Irish!

Bill Lewis


class of 1976

Dec. 1