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Students sound off on football issues

Observer Viewpoint | Sunday, November 14, 2004

I would just like to thank Kellie Middleton for enlightening us ignorant masses about Notre Dame football. You see, like so many, I used to be concerned about the path of Notre Dame football. I guess I didn’t realize just how impressive a close win over a completely injury-depleted Tennessee team was. I thought that we were fortunate to catch them when we were coming off a bye week, they were coming off eight straight games, and they were down to their third-string quarterback by the end of the game. But now I’ve learned that it was because of coaching.

I then went on to learn that Notre Dame football can’t be great because of parity. When programs like Baylor can occassionaly beat a barely top-25 team, how can Notre Dame be expected to win consistently like the Oklahomas and USCs of the world? Apparently coaching plays no part in the recent success of teams like Oklahoma and USC. Or with the impressive turnaround of programs like Utah. It’s just parity.

Then we were told that “the ship is pointed in the right direction,” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In 2003, Notre Dame gave up more points at home – 168 – than any other team in our history. In the 41 years from 1960-2001, we lost by more than 30 points four times, or roughly once every 10 years. In the two years since coach Tyrone Willingham took over, we lost by more than 30 points four times, or roughly once every five games.

I also realized that my goal of Notre Dame winning a national championship is not the ultimate goal of the program. According to Kellie, “Ty has been able to attract and motivate football players that can play at a top 25-program level.” Top 25? Alright. But that won’t happen every year – Ty has shown a complete inability to keep a team at a high level from game to game, let alone year to year. And as for attracting players, last year’s recruiting class was one of the lowest ranked in years, and early returns on this year’s recruiting class are not impressive.

I wish Willingham success, be it here, or someplace else. But the fact is, he and his staff are not championship material. There is no evidence to indicate that they are, despite Kellie’s attempts to defend him without any. Notre Dame can be great every year with the proper leadership. Bob Davie was not the right man. Willingham is not the right man. That has become very apparent, and the administration should not drag this program any further down by continuing to accept mediocrity.

Patrick Burke



Nov. 11