Words of wisdom for Notre Dame football fans

Don't let the bastards get you down

This from the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN.com’s Page 2.  I am in complete agreement.  Winning college football games isn’t everything.  Conducting yourself with class and pride counts for much more over the long run–something that Nick Saban either never learned or forgot.  When these Notre Dame players tell their grandkids about their playing days, they won’t talk about their won-loss record, but the kids will know from watching grandpa what kind of a man ND helped make him.

Sportstalk radio continues to call for the head of Charlie Weis of Notre Dame, whose team is “only” 6-4 after close losses to power schools. Must be that when Weis got to South Bend, immediately he forgot how to coach. Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham, his predecessors, saw their coaching careers hit the rocks, too, upon arrival at South Bend, followed by boosters’ demands that it become 1966 again and Notre Dame roll over opponents. TMQ thinks Notre Dame alums should be proud of the football program’s recent struggles — because the reason for the struggles is that Notre Dame still requires football players to attend class. Over the past couple of decades, increasingly most top 20 football schools have discarded any pretense of education. With a 94 percent football graduation rate, Notre Dame is competing against programs with a 68 percent football graduation rate (Florida), a 55 percent graduation rate (Alabama) and a 50 percent graduation rate (Texas); other football power schools have similarly miserable grad rates. Low graduation rates at big football schools mean players cut class to concentrate on sports, being pros in all but pay. “Don’t go to Notre Dame, they make you study there, come to our college and party, party, party” has become a recruiting pitch that undercuts the Fighting Irish. It is extremely cynical of other football powers not to educate their players; Notre Dame is among the few football powers (others are Boston College, Nebraska and Stanford) to refuse to give in to such cynicism. Want the Irish to win more games? If the school stopped making football players do term papers, results would improve. That would hardly be in the best interest of the players — or of Notre Dame.

Two weeks ago, when Navy defeated Norte Dame in the closing seconds at South Bend, both teams and 80,795 people stood quietly and respectfully in the twilight as “Blue and Gold,” the Navy alma mater song, was played — only a genuine institution of learning like Notre Dame could produce such a moment. Wasn’t it worth more than a victory? Wasn’t it far more impressive than the mindless fist-shaking exhibited by some big-deal football programs after 40-point wins against cupcakes?


3 Responses to Words of wisdom for Notre Dame football fans

  1. William Tokash says:

    Uh here we go again. We only hear abt graduation rates when their record is abt 500 or less. NBC didn’t sign them to their TV contract to show kids studying on Saturday afternoons. It’s big business, the University knows that and they use this excuse to try feel sorry for themselves when the squad gets eliminated from major bowl contention. You can chart it over the years and plot the number of “graduation matters” articles against their record at the time…..

    • mark0905 says:

      Agreed. They’d rather win than lose and NBC would certainly rather see them win than lose, but this was more directed at those within the Dome community (I won’t call it “Domer Nation”as I really don’t like that ______ Nation tag) who view these things ONLY in terms of wins and loses.

      You remember quite well, I’m sure, the days when RMK’s teams weren’t very good, but managed to eke out being merely “competitive” and people would say things like, “they may not win, but at least they play hard and go to class/graduate and generally follow the rules”, etc. Same thing here. It’s not ONLY the winning that matters. If ND fans want just winners and nothing else, they should cheer for Nick “my name on a contract means nothing to me”Saban, or simply follow the NFL.

      Losing is one thing. Losing and cheating (either not following the rules or cheating your players out of a chance at an education) is another. I think RichRod is about to expose Big Blue to a big dose of what I’ll call “Kelvin Sampson”. ND is suffering from adequacy and not superiority–something we’ve seen people in the southern part of the state struggle with adjusting to over the past 14 years.

      I think that Weis’s teams aren’t prepared well. It’s never been clear to me that he’s capable of being a head coach, but the notion that the program is a disaster because they’re 6-4 is wrongheaded. There’s more to a program than that. Winning beats losing, but losing with class and style matters more than winning the wrong way. Ask Derrick Rose and a list of others so long you can’t even measure it.

  2. Dennis Ryan says:

    Again, and as usual, well put Mark.
    But still, ouch.

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