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Rules for selecting head coaches

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It’s been 20 years since our last national title. In the two decades between 1966 and 1988 we won four. What makes the most recent twenty years so empty?

Compare the head coaches. Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz all had 13 or more years of head coaching experience and winning percentages of .644 or greater prior to arriving at Notre Dame. Lou and Dan also won big bowl games during their successful years at Arkansas and Missouri. Ara and Lou turned around horrible Big Ten teams (Northwestern and Minnesota).

I could keep going, but the point is, all three had extremely successful and impressive head coaching resumes before being hired by ND. Bob Davie and Charlie Weis had zero head coaching experience. George O’Leary and Ty Willingham had no more than eight years of head coaching experience. Their winning percentages prior to ND were .611 and .550.

This may sound obvious, but Notre Dame should stick with what works and hire nothing less than coaches with proven records of head coaching success as we did with Ara, Dan, and Lou.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been obvious during the last 12 years. We’ve broken with a winning tradition and hired individuals that didn’t meet our golden Notre Dame standard. We’ve made the “Gerry Faust Error” four times in a row. If we’re looking for the next Knute Rockne or Frank Leahy (who both had zero or very little head coaching experience) we haven’t been very lucky.

Plus, college football was in its infant stages prior to 1950 and the ultra-competitive nature of today’s football requires a well defined head coach selection process.

Pilots with only a few years of experience shouldn’t be chosen to fly Air Force One. The President’s surgeon shouldn’t be the young fellow that just finished his residency.

In the same way, the individual selected to coach Notre Dame Football should not be someone that has less than 13 years of head coach experience and a winning percentage less than .644. A spectacular turnaround and bowl game wins on his resume would, of course, be preferred.

Notre Dame is not the place for new head coaches to start their careers or mediocre coaches to build their resumes. Notre Dame is the place where the best coaches in college football go to make history.

Edward Prusiecki

alum

class of ’02

Nov. 30