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Take that, Mr. Grant

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Please consider this a response to the squalid tripe I suppose was intended to pass as a column by Alan Grant, which was posted on ESPN.com on Sept. 2.

Surely there had to be a better way to drive up sales for your book than an unfounded diatribe about Notre Dame’s supposed irrelevance, arrogance and false sense of tradition. After reading your column, I felt compelled to set you straight on a few points, including your assertion that Notre Dame was wrong in dismissing coach Tyrone Willingham after just three seasons, insinuating that the decision was related to something other than the W-L count and even perhaps in part racially motivated.

You just don’t get it, Mr. Grant. We all wanted to get behind Ty. We wanted him to be “The One,” the coach who would finally resurrect our football program and propel our “Return to Glory.” Just look at the “Sea of Green” at Notre Dame Stadium on football Saturdays during Willingham’s tenure or the “I [heart] Ty” shirts sold on campus. Unfortunately, and you may not realize this Mr. Grant, a football coach’s job is, among other things, to win football games. Of course it wasn’t enough that Willingham “invested himself in the job, visited the dorms and spoke passionately about the program,” not with our record in shambles! Sometimes, hiring and firing decisions are about unsatisfactory results, not integrity.

But while we’re on the subject of integrity, allow me to remind you that you attended a university whose band has been banned from Notre Dame Stadium indefinitely for maligning the Catholic religion. And, in case you forgot, the band was also at one time prevented from playing at Stanford home games against ND for joking about the potato famine, a tragedy that took the lives of an estimated 500,000 to one million Irish. In light of the recent events in the American South, I’d say poking fun at a catastrophe that wreaked immeasurable havoc on the Irish nation is a bit worse than prematurely firing a football coach.

As for your assessment of the Irish as, what was it?, “J. Crew wearing yuppie larvae,” I don’t see how this ad hominem attack on a group of people with whom you are largely unfamiliar strengthens your argument. Rather than hurling invectives at us, why not back up your position with some legitimate facts?

If Notre Dame is irrelevant, why is it that I can’t so much as leave my apartment wearing a Notre Dame T-shirt without eliciting some sort of reaction from passers by, whether it’s a drunk twenty-year-old rolling down a cab window to yell “Notre Dame sucks” or a stranger yelling “Go Irish!”? Fact is, whether you love us or hate us, we are relevant. Don’t you think the fact that you dedicated a 1400-word column to ND (as well as a 304-page book) is a testament to that?

I could say more, but the idea of reading your “article” one more time makes me physically ill. So I’ll end with this:

The Irish will rise again, Mr. Grant. Maybe not this year. Maybe not next year. But it will happen. And when it does, we won’t care that you don’t care. Notre Dame is about tradition, and the fact that you don’t understand it doesn’t make it any less real.

Kathleen O’LearyAlumnus Class of 2004