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Letter to Notre Dame Board of Trustees

| Wednesday, November 30, 2016

So what do you think the Board of Trustees is doing this morning regarding the Notre Dame football program, which finished its season with a most disappointing 4-8 record after losing to archrival USC to cap a week that earlier brought NCAA sanctions to the program?

  • Nada
  • Nothing
  • Zilch
  • Trying to figure out how to personalize their luxury suites in anticipation of the grand opening of Campus Crossroads for the 2017 home opener against football powerhouse Temple with Brian Kelly returning as head coach of the Not-so-Fighting Irish for his eighth season, a tenure rivaled only by four previous Notre Dame head coaches in its formerly illustrative history
  • Staring at their collective navel
  • All of the above

Any talk of Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick making the hard decisions concerning the fate of the Notre Dame Football program — and to an intricately related extent, Notre Dame’s position as a respected institution of higher learning with a proudly Catholic bent — is a waste of breath. The collective board of enervating ennui above them is where the real problem lies.

So what exactly is the Board of Trustees — there are 49 of them, mind you — going to do about it? I mean, it isn’t just the Three Pillars thing they should be worrying about. We’re talking major cash cow here, and these things don’t exactly grow on trees.

You can’t tell me Notre Dame hasn’t taken a major financial hit with the fall from grace of its football program. I mean, there’s the Vivid Seats thing, a secondary ticket market deal with the devil we have engaged to address the obvious lack of enthusiasm for Notre Dame Football. As it currently stands, why would anyone with a firm grasp of what’s happening with the football program in particular and the related fallout to the University as manifested by the underfunding of the $450 million Crossroads project:

  • continue buying season tickets?
  • ever want to enter the ticket lottery again?
  • support an administration so numbskullingly bent on running its once proud football program into the ground?

It was rather obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of college football that defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder had to go after last year. So why did AD Swarbrick allow Coach Kelly to bring him back this year? Is Kelly such the Svengali that he controls most everything going on with football at Notre Dame — or was our AD that clueless regarding what had a very real possibility of happening this year?

Seven years in, and we’re back to where we started. Twenty eight years since our last grasp of glory, and we’re getting too old to count that high anymore.

What about the fans? What about the alumni? What about the students? What about the players? What about the menopausal Golden Goose formerly known as Notre Dame football?

You’d think at Notre Dame where CSC — Cash, Strictly Cash — reigns supreme, we’d at least begin to think about enacting meaningful change, if only for the Goose’s sake. Maybe a pill or two of hope that help is on the way — and not some stinking Jumbotron with nothing left for it to display when it inevitably gets here. We’re already saddled with the peripheral schmaltz of a rock climbing wall, artificial turf, smoke emanating from the tunnel and the seemingly-ubiquitous Ozzy Osbourne — and none of these things has one iota to do with winning football. I would hope that the giddy embrace of these distractions is not exactly what we should be touting in the courting of any prospective coach — i.e., one who really does know what it takes to win at Notre Dame. And so, it won’t be enough to announce that we’ve jettisoned our head coach; we really need to announce that whoever sold us this bill of goods is gone too.

Fortunately — or perhaps unfortunately for us older folk — we remember the days when we were somebody. And we have a hard time understanding why the current AD and president — who were around in those days too — seem to care more about the baubles and bling associated with Crossroads and something about improving the “Gameday Experience” rather than Notre Dame winning overall, whatever the odds.

A football program based on smoke and mirrors and edifice envy can only carry you so far. Sometimes you need to block and tackle and put the fade from the one yard line far, far away from ever seeing the light of day again. And so it’s time for the Board of Trustees to get its collective head out of its collective pocketbook and make it rain for someone obviously more worthy of leading us on the football field of glory — one ideally with real grass, but I digress.

And so, Board of Trustees, it’s up to you now to make it right after enabling it to be so wrong for way too long. No more hiding behind your bloated numbers. Do you not take winning seriously? Is it really enough for us to recount year after year the faded equivalent glory of our four Al Bundy touchdowns in one game from oh so long ago? Don’t you think we should strive for more?

Or have you never watched Rudy?

Michael Sydlik
classes of 1973 and 1975
Nov. 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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    He’s right. The ND P.R. machine will go into full operation now and there will be smoke and mirrors and all that and maybe ND will win 10 games, but don’t count on it.

    IMO Notre Dame has forfeited the right to call itself the ‘nations flagship Catholic University’. Giving the most pro abortion president in history an honorary degree in direct defiance of the Ft. Wayne Diocese in 2009, and last spring giving the Laetare Medal to a ‘catholic’ Vice President who had already proclaimed publicly that he had no problem with same-sex marriage, and who, not long after being awarded the medal, publicly officiated at a same-sex ‘marriage’ are the two prime examples of my point.

    Notre Dame does a lot of things well, but humble is not one of them. IMO the current shambles of the football program is a symptom of that.

    • buster01

      So, Terry, why do you bring in the red herring about your social views? That was basically what your post was about. After reading Mr. Sydlik’s article, none of your points about abortion and same-sex marriage entered my thought process.

      Let’s stick to the football program.

      • Mark

        He mentions social issues because if you had not noticed, it does impact donations and perception of the integrity of the University. For example, inviting a soon to be Ex President to speak at ND and {INDEED A Pro Late Term Abortion President} more importantly, speaks volumes to the utter hypocrisy of its current leadership. Why would any serious Catholic donate money to such a University??? Rather, why would any serious Catholic with faith and integrity donate to such a University?? Apparently you’re the one who would.

        • TERRY


          Thank you for sticking up for me. It is much appreciated.

          In my defense – I am 73, and went to ND in 1961 (did not graduate) and in those days – think of Catholic, think of football, add the two together and it adds up to Notre Dame. That is no longer the case today, but it was in my day.

          Obama – In 2001 a bill was brought up in the Illinois Senate mandating medical care for a baby who had the audacity to survive an abortion. It was defeated, and one of those voting against it was Barack Obama. The same thing happened in 2002, and in 2003 it didn’t even make it to the floor.

          This is the man to whom Notre Dame chose to give an honorary degree.

          • Mark

            Yes, I’m well aware of the “history” of the person ND Leadership decided to give an honorary degree.
            The US Academic Establishments are infected with a virus / ND and Catholic priests are not immune. In fact, it appears they’re the tip of the spear. I say this having spent most of academic life in Catholic Schools / Universities (and glad I did).

        • buster01


          You make a huge assumption about my donation. I would not and do not contribute to Notre Dame. There is no reason that I should bother to address your concerns about Obama. Additionally, there is no need for me to address being a “serious Catholic”. Furthermore, I find no need to address your concerns about “faith and integrity”.

          Again, let’s stick to the football program.

  • Andrew

    I think ND’s glory days are ahead for her, but it’s as an outstanding academic institution with an excellent athletic program, not as a Catholic football factory. This was a very bad year for ND football and it shouldn’t ever happen. This team massively underperformed and that’s unacceptable. We shouldn’t have seasons with losing records given the team’s resources and consistently good recruiting. However, in my opinion, we also shouldn’t expect or even hope to compete with the current college football powerhouses on a regular basis. Once in a while the stars will align and we’ll be in the final four, but mostly we’ll be a good team who’s always competitive. I think that’s what we should strive for, not the glory days of the past. The future is celebrating our excellent academics as well as ALL of our incredibly successful athletic teams and the remarkable student athletes on those teams. Football national championships are fun and wonderful, but I’ll take a couple Rhodes Scholars over a victory against Alabama any day. And talks about the money from football are moot at this point. ND has plenty of money and plenty more will keep coming in. Football was a big part of our past and played a large role in getting us to where we are, but it should be a smaller part of our future.

    • Mike

      You will take a couple of Rhodes Scholars over a victory over Alabama any day … really?? And ND has plenty of money??? Watch the money dry up over the next few years as we continue to stink. I don’t think you have any idea about basic economics or why people donate. Also, having Brian Kelly as a representative of the University is disgusting … great leaders don’t throw their players under the bus constantly and his actions are consistently surly and unbecoming of Our Lady’s University. He is an embarrassment.

      • Mark

        Mike I echo your opinion,
        Andrew in all probability is a Millennial

        • buster01

          So, Mark, is being a “Millennial” unacceptable? Why do you denigrate young folks? Do you want young folks to call you an old man?

          • Mark

            So Buster, did I say being a Millennial was unacceptable? No. I pointed out a probability as I stated, but to you merely pointing that out probability is somehow denigration of Andrew? Hilarious. Stick to football, as you say, you’re clearly out of your league.

          • Andrew

            I’m 53. Football is great, but the future of the university isn’t likely to be staked on the performance of the football team. Our lady’s university is looking to be more than the sum of Catholic + football. About 70% of the undergrads (80% of whom are nominally Catholic) voted for Hillary. The average ACT of an admitted student runs around 34. ND is evolving and the 10 billion dollar endowment (10th largest in the country) is not going to shrivel up and blow away for lack of another national football title. It’s also not going to dry up because the president of the country was allowed to speak on campus or because an award was given to the VP of the country. The school is evolving. If you want to see the school die than by all means encourage it to cling to it’s past. All that said, I agree with everyone who thinks this season was unacceptable. ND has perennial top 20 recruiting classes with its current academic standards. IMO, it doesn’t need to lower the standards; it needs to hold the coaches and team accountable for not better utilizing their excellent resources.

          • buster01

            I agree with your assessment, Andrew. I too like football, but it is not a make or break thing. Likely, most of the current students at Notre Dame that claim to be Catholic are merely Catholic by name because of having been raised Catholic. It is quite understandable.

          • Mark

            Okay you sounded like a youngster. And I agree with your assessment.

          • Mark

            And as far as 80% of ND students voting for Hillary, not surprised. ACT scores don’t amount to much do they, like ND’s Team, PC wussies clearly.

          • buster01

            Sorry, Mark. I must have hit a frazzled nerve. Looks like you can dish it out but cannot take it. Considering league, you likely never played a down of football. So, stick to your league of categorizing folks by age. You are the one that initially used the term, Millennial.

          • Mark

            I played 4 years of High School Football and 2 years of Rugby. I played for the 3rd ranked Team currently in the U.S., Mater Dei and proud of it. I know a think or two about it pounding it.

          • buster01

            “I know a think or two about it pounding it.” If that is true, then apparently your thought process and language were affected. Looks like more than just frazzled nerves. You should be checked for dementia.

          • Mark

            Yes that’s true dolt. Projecting your reality onto me Buster? How did you derive the name Buster anyway? A prison fantasy?

          • buster01

            Oh, so now you are restoring to name-calling. So you know a thing or two about pounding it? Was that in prison? You’re still trying to dish it out but cannot take it. I have known many children that were old enough to be on Medicare. You sure fit that billing. Mark it down.

          • Mark

            Nothing personal.

          • buster01

            Then why did you bother to make the statement that Andrew was in all probability a Millennial? Were you just getting in a little jab, but of course nothing personal?

  • JIm Kress

    Great letter. Too bad Jenkins and the BOT are too busy communing with their “saints”, Harvey Milk, Margaret Sanger and Stalin to spend time making sure the real legacy of Notre Dame is maintained.

    • Mark

      “Communing with their Saints” – > Love it. Spot On. When I was an undergrad at a West Coast Catholic University, I became friends with an Associate Professor on campus who confided with me that he was a Marxist, no surprise really. When he failed to make tenure, he became a Catholic Priest in Marin County, CA.

  • John Bend

    What I do not get does the Board of Trustees agree with all of the off the filed issues that have hit the football team? Are they in favor of lower academic standards to bring players in that BK will be winners?a Where has it gotten us to over the last 3 years. Swarbrick giving BK everything he says he needs to win has been a failure. Both, SHOULD GO

  • Long Keenan

    Admissions standards must have been pretty low for the Class of ’75. I’m sorry your education didn’t endow you with better critical thinking skills than this.