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Response to Dan Lawton’s letter in The Observer

| Friday, August 31, 2018

Dear Fr. Joyce, Moose and Ara,

I trust our Lord and Our Lady are treating you well in paradise. I’m writing to you at the request of an old friend, Dan Lawton, who is quite upset about ND’s apparent sellout to the almighty dollar — and asked someone to write you to explain what’s happening and why. I suppose we’re still struggling with that whole “serving two masters” thing. Anyway, as you fellas know, this criticism has been around for decades, probably since Knute Rockne threatened to resign unless the Holy Cross priests built him a big stadium. Dan’s dismay stems from Notre Dame’s participation in the Shamrock series, which involves taking the Irish football team around the country to play in unique (i.e. non-college football) venues, while sporting radically re-designed uniforms. This year’s design doesn’t include gold helmets but does include Yankee pinstriped pants. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you guys the Shamrock series is really an old Notre Dame tradition with a catchy new name. I mean taking the Notre Dame football team on the road to non-traditional venues was how Notre Dame built its national reputation and that our epic battles vs. Army at non-football cathedrals like Yankee Stadium are a part of Notre Dame lore. Also, Moose, you’d probably remember that you never wore a gold helmet, that they didn’t appear at Notre Dame until the 1950s and that Notre Dame has won seven of its 11 national championships without a gold helmet.

Now I’m all for tradition. I mean who doesn’t love parietals? But a lot has changed since you guys were in charge, so let me be direct: The fathers of today’s top recruits barely remember our last national championship, our last Heisman winner was eligible for an AARP membership two years ago and despite all the talk about global warming, South Bend’s weather is still not Miami, Southern California or Palo Alto, California. Frankly, what we need to do to attract scholar-athletes who can compete in the classroom and on the gridiron continues to evolve in ways you can’t even imagine.

My friend Dan is concerned that each of you may be spinning in your graves over the Shamrock series and this year’s uniforms. However, my guess is that you’re already dizzy from all the spinning you’ve done as this evolution has occurred. Examples of this evolution are numerous and include trading our sacred status as a true independent for a quasi-independent status through our ACC football affiliation, replacing the stadium’s grass field with FieldTurf, installing permanent lights to take advantage of games played in primetime and most recently, adding a video board to our twice-expanded stadium. As for the Shamrock Series and the Yankee/Notre Dame uniforms, please send Dan a sign to let him know that while you’d prefer that the helmet looked less like Darth Vader, you’re no longer spinning. Instead, you’re just looking forward to kicking Michigan’s assets Saturday night in front of a history-making, stadium-shaking, green-wave-quaking home crowd and a large national audience tuned in to our very own television network.

Yours in Our Lady,

Bill McKee

Class of ’83

Aug. 28

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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