Credit Davie Only For His Coaching Achievements - 9 December 2001
Notre Dame Football Lives On - 9 December 2001
Recruit Reaction - 3 December 2001
Davie Devises His Own Defense - 2 December 2001
Davie lacks Irish spirit - 2 December 2001
Five That Didn't Jive - 25 November 2001
Who's Next? - 18 November 2001
'All Ball' Talk Was Downfall - 18 November 2001
Green Shirts About More Than School Spirit - 11 November 2001
'Didn't we already tell you no?' - 4 November 2001
Davie Turns Off Fan Base - 4 November 2001
WITH IRISH STRUGGLING, PIECES FIT BETTER THAN EVER - 29 October 2001
Does Gruden dream about ND job? - 29 October 2001
'Our task is clear, and it's difficult': The President's Visit - 3 June 2001
ND hears call for compassion - 3 June 2001
University betrayed values: Protesters - 3 June 2001
ND ready for Bush visit - 3 June 2001
Like 4 before him, talk by Bush for nation, too - 3 June 2001
Notre Dame quick to invite Bush - 3 June 2001
ND grad's barbecue brought Bushes together - 3 June 2001
Bush Honors Basketball Team in Washington - 6 May 2001
Classic Lines from Holtz - 29 April 2001
Dreaming of Greatness - 29 April 2001
Rockne's Legend Lives On - 22 April 2001
Mr. Basketball Thomas Truly Special - 22 April 2001
Champion ND women's team honored by Senate - 22 April 2001
Sharing a Magic Moment - 8 April 2001
Thousands Welcome Irish Back to Campus - 8 April 2001
Students Ride Emotional Rollercoaster Watching Irish Play - 8 April 2001
Thanks for the Ten-spot, Monk - 25 March 2001
Paving the Way - 25 February 2001
Administration: Cosmopolitan Article Unfair - 25 February 2001
Zorich Unplugged - 25 February 2001
Rethinking N.D.'s BCS Conditions - 11 February 2001
Nineteen High School Seniors Sign National Letters - 11 February 2001
A Class Notable For Who's Not In It - 11 February 2001
Hesburgh Travels Aboard Nuclear Sub - 4 February 2001
Posted on 9 December 2001:
I love Notre Dame football. It's fun. I tailgate before every game (oops, maybe shouldn't have said that), I wear my Notre Dame gear, I do all the cheers, I know as much about this team as any fan does - its strengths, tendencies and weaknesses. I am totally into it, but I understand that it is not life and death like some disillusioned fans might have you believe.
Like many people have pointed out in these pages this week, Coach Davie is a man, and I have never lost sight of that. Even so, I do not lose sleep over his firing.
He was brought in and paid, paid lots and lots of money, to be a football coach - a good football coach.
He says the players go to class. Newsflash: That's what classes are for.
He says they stay out of trouble. Wow, these players must've had parents before they came here.
He says they get good grades. Bravo to the professors that teach them.
All those things are expected here. Staying out of trouble and going to class is not that hard. Really.
Was Coach Davie tutoring the players in Calculus? Doubt it. Was he out with them on a Thursday night making sure their noses were clean? Doubt it. Did he take their tests? Hope not.
Was he out there on Saturdays this fall? Yep. Did he run the ball on first and second down, pass it on third and punt on fourth? You bet. Did he manage to coach losing teams in 40 percent of his seasons here? Yes.
You see, it's easy. It's all about personal responsibility and giving credit where credit is due. Bob Davie is a little mixed up here. The players and professors should be applauded for owning up to their responsibilities as students and teachers. He can't honestly take their successes for his own. Just because student-athletes at other schools are not really expected to be students does not mean that we should praise our Coach when our athletes do what they should be doing all along.
Last time I checked, no professor or teaching assistant ever took credit for an interception, touchdown or bowl win (well, not that they could do that when Davie was here), so Bob Davie should stop trying to take credit for teaching Kant, the quadratic formula or Einstein's theory of relativity.
Posted on 9 December 2001:
As the great coaching search enters its fourth day, sports columnists and ignorant fans of other schools across the country are having a grand time dancing on the supposed grave of Notre Dame football.
Notre Dame's admissions standards are too high.
Notre Dame's schedule is too tough.
Notre Dame can't recruit the great athletes.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, every moron with a keyboard and an internet connection has spouted off a ton of reasons why Notre Dame can't compete with the top schools; why Notre Dame will never win another national title; why Notre Dame has become irrelevant in the college football world.
If Notre Dame is so pathetic and so meaningless in college football, then why are these people bothering to kick them when they are down?
Did anyone really care when Kansas fired head coach Terry Allen? Not really.
Was there a national media frenzy following around the Jayhawk athletic director to find out who was going to be the next head coach? No.
Did a "no comment" from a coaching prospect become one of the top stories on SportsCenter? Of course not.
Only a school with a football program that was a potential national title contender could draw that kind of following.
But the criticism of Notre Dame for being behind the times and unimportant continues.
"Irish fans need to pull their heads out of their, er, golden domes and realize that they're often lucky to play with Air Force and Rutgers," Ryan Finley wrote in a brilliant, thoroughly researched column about the firing of Bob Davie in the Arizona Daily Wildcat on Dec. 3. Thanks for enlightening us with your opinion Ryan.
So why do sports writers and fans across the country keep trying to say that Notre Dame football is dead? Because they wish it were true.
Notre Dame has stood at the top of the college football world for so long that everyone is hoping that its fall in recent years will be permanent. The king seems to have abdicated his throne so everyone is scrambling to steal his seat while he is away.
But fear not. Notre Dame football will return to its former glory. Bob Davie was one of the most honest, moral men I have ever met. But that didn't make him a great football coach. Kevin White now has the daunting task of choosing another man who will maintain Notre Dame's high standards for student-athletes while at the same time winning more football games.
I think it can be done. Most of the rest of the college football world hopes it can't.
So celebrate now. Kick Notre Dame while its down. But the king will soon return and he will have his revenge.
Date: Dec. 3, 2001
Chris Olsen, 6-4, 220, QB, Wayne Hills, N.J. -- "I'm kind of upset because I really like coach Davie. I was hoping Notre Dame would come on at the end, so they could save coach Davie's job. But all three of the candidates (Bob Stoops, Jon Gruden and Tom Coughlin) I've heard about sound appealing. As of right now, I'm solidly committed to Notre Dame."
Dan Santucci, 6-4, 245, DE, Harwood, Heights, Ill. (Chicago St. Patrick) -- "I knew it was going to happen (Davie being fired). I don't know what to do now. I don't know if any of them are going to call me. I don't know if to call them or what. If another school calls, I might talk to them. But I still want to go to Notre Dame. I want to see what happens with the coach first. I want to see if some of the other recruits start backing out."
Bob Morton, 6-4, 300, OL, McKinney, Texas -- "It's not really a matter of, 'We'll coach Davie is gone, so I'm gone.' I'm committed to the school. The odds of me changing are slim to none. Unless the coach that comes in wants to throw 60 times a game, I see my chances of leaving as zero percent. I want a chance to meet the new coach. My loyalty is definitely is still to Notre Dame."
Scott Raridon, 6-7, 280, TE/OL, Mason City, Iowa -- "I talked to (coach Kirk Doll) the other day and he didn't indicate anything like a coaching change. He acted like everything was normal. That doesn't really bother me, because you have to try your hardest no matter what's going on. And that's what they did. I really respect them for hanging in there until the end. I have a lot of respect for Bob Davie. He's the one who offered me the scholarship. But I still want to play for Notre Dame. The only chance of me not going there is that I really, really would have to hate the next coach."
Derek Landri, 6-3, 280, OL/DL, Concord, Calif. (De La Salle) -- "I'm a little bit surprised, because earlier in the year, assistant coach (Dave) Borbely was really confident they were going to stay. But toward the end of the year, he was skeptical about it. When you have a bad year at Notre Dame, things are different. Everyone expects Notre Dame to always be on top, every year. I wouldn't consider any other schools. USC still contacts me a lot. They send me letters almost every day. But other schools know I'm still committed to Notre Dame, so they don't call back."
Jake Carney, 6-1, 180, DB, Lexington, Ky. (Lexington Catholic) -- "I'm a little shocked that it came this soon. I'm just really curious to see who the next coach will be. I really trusted coach Davie. I tried to put in my mind that regardless, he was going to be back. But I figured something would happen. Notre Dame is still the school I want to attend. I chose the school because of the academics. My only other thought would be Stanford, but that's highly unlikely."
Chris Frome, 6-5, 240, DE, Saugus, Calif. (Newhall Hart) -- "I was prepared for this, because of the rumors and all the hype. I'm disappointed a little, but not to the point that I'm looking at another school. Personally, I would like to play for Jon Gruden. (Bob Stoops) would be good too. I'm sure whoever Notre Dame gets, it will be a great coach for the program."
Jamie Ryan, 6-5, 280, OL/DL, Tamaqua, Pa. (Marian Catholic) -- "I came home from Mass, and I saw that Davie got fired. I was surprised. The bad part about it is that the whole staff (will likely) be gone. They are all great coaches. I like all of them. I bonded with (assistant coach Steve) Addazio the most. I like coach Davie a lot, but I'm a definite solid commitment to Notre Dame. I know it's just a verbal, and (the new staff) could easily take away the scholarship. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to Notre Dame."
Jeremy Van Alstyne, 6-3,. 235, LB, Greenwood, Ind. (Center Grove) -- "I'm still planning on taking my official visit up there (this weekend). I want to clear some things up. I'm disappointed, because I thought I'd be playing for coach Davie. But I still really want to go to Notre Dame. I just need to find out who the next coach will be. I'm sure Notre Dame will bring in a good coach. If there is another school I'll look at, it'd probably be Michigan."
Josh Hannum, 6-1, 170, WR, Wallingford, Pa. (Strath Haven) -- "I can't say I'm too surprised, but I am a little bit disappointed. But whatever happens, I'm pretty much going to stick with Notre Dame. I'm eager to meet with the new coach. If I think about any other schools, which I probably won't, it would be either Penn State or West Virginia. I just have to have patience and see where I fit in with the new coaches."
Note: Recruits Anthony Fasano (tight end from Verona, N.J.) and James Bonelli (offensive lineman from Camarillo, Calif.) were unavailable for comment Sunday.
Posted on 2 December 2001
SOUTH BEND -- Bob Davie faces a litany of indictments as he tries to protect his job as Notre Dame's head football coach -- wins and losses, bowl appearances frittered away, bowl revenue unearned and increasing public sentiment against him.
Despite that, Davie insisted Tuesday that he will not resign, suggesting any change would have to be initiated by the university.
He tried to emphasize the factors in his favor, sounding like he planned to go into his annual evaluation with athletic director Kevin White with both fists flailing.
"I understand that everything comes down to the won-loss record,'' Davie said. "I would also say that, in (two of) the prior four years we had won nine games, we went to the first (Bowl Championship Series) game in the history of this school, at a time when the talent level was probably not as high as it's been earlier in the '90s.
"More important than that, I'm not going to sit here and try to save my job or try to keep my job through coming up with statistics of what I've done and what I've not done. I don't think this is the proper time to do that and I'm not real comfortable doing that. I'm not the most comfortable guy talking about myself.''
Davie made an effort to bring out the full scope of the program, rather than narrowing it down to what happens between the lines on Saturdays.
"If you stop and look at the big picture of a program that, just a couple years ago was put on probation and there were so many things swirling around ... ,'' Davie said. "If you look at the conduct of our football team. If you look at the retention of our student-athletes. If you look at the grade-point average of the last two semesters -- the fall and the spring were the highest in the history of the university as a football team -- for what it's worth, we'll receive an academic achievement award. I think there's a big picture."
Davie pointed to those off-the-field achievements as part of the reason he received a contract extension after a 9-2 regular season in 2000.
Since then, Davie says, he has not changed his approach, though the Irish football fortunes have faltered and his job status has become the subject of increasing speculation.
"I think there's a reason the University of Notre Dame, in December, came to me and gave me a new five-year contract. I did not go to University of Notre Dame and ask for a new contract. I don't think I'm the one who should have to sit here and defend why that contract was given to me. Since that point in December, I haven't changed," Davie said.
"Obviously, if a lot of evaluation went into me last December, unless I've changed -- I don't think I've changed -- then I would think those good reasons are still there. I'm probably not the one to answer that question. Someone else should answer that.''
Davie ultimately has to answer to White. There was no indication when the two plan to meet, though it's likely to be in the day or days following Saturday's Purdue game.
Well aware of the pitfalls of such a fickle profession, Davie acknowledged how quickly the perception of a coach can change.
"There are no gurus,'' Davie said of his peers. "There's a bunch of people a year ago, people weren't real high on, but all of a sudden they're winning games now. There's a bunch of people that a year ago were winning games and everybody thought they were the guru, and now they're not winning games.
"That's what this profession is. In a lot of ways, that's what life is. If you're going to step in the ring, you're going to get knocked down. If you don't ever step in the ring, and all you do is sit out and give the commentary of what goes on it the ring, that's pretty easy. That's not a difficult thing.
" ... When you choose to do this, it's all part of it. In the end, that's what separates the haves from the have-nots, from how you handle those situations. I chose to do this. That's what it is.''
Posted on 2 December 2001:
I'm writing two years after being vilified for suggesting that the students boo Bob Davie at the pep rally and that Mike Wadsworth was not what we needed as athletic director. I now seem to be a prophet, and, although I certainly hope that a decision has already been reached, I would like to fire one final salvo to satisfy my thirst for "blood."
I'm not going to focus on the coaching aspect - the blown timeouts, lack of organization, worse record against ranked teams than Gerry Faust, etc. - that record speaks for itself. I'm going to focus on what an awful representative Bob Davie is for Notre Dame.
I'm going to give credit for my comments to a very bright band member, whose call to WMVP in Chicago I heard while driving home from Mishawaka to Chicago after the Stanford game - he summed it up very well. This astute band member stated that Mike Brey frequently has meetings in the dorms and encourages a large presence on campus for himself and the basketball team - kudos to Coach Brey for that.
I was a student during the Faust and Holtz years, and both men, with differing success on the field, were giants on campus - their love for Notre Dame was never questioned. Bob Davie's love for Bob Davie seems to be the only thing not in question in this regime. But the most telling comment of all by this band member was that, when the team was 0-3, the band took it upon themselves to suprise them at practice with some inspiration. Davie promised a victory over Pitt and a game ball for the band. Apparently, the band is still waiting for its game ball. The man simply does not care, and that, more than anything, is the reason he should be "kicked to the curb."
I love my alma mater more than words can ever express. In that vein, I wrote a letter to Father Malloy and Dr. White (both of whom I trust completely in their respect for this University and its football program), stating that my contribution this year would be specifically targeted toward any buyout expenses in the contract of the head football coach and that I would like my check returned if it is not used as intended. I certainly see that Notre Dame is about much, much more than football, but football is our public face to most of the world. I am not asking for national championships every year - just a passion for Notre Dame from an excellent football coach who will throw himself into the job and do things the Notre Dame way. Now, Dr. White, go do the right thing.
class of '88
Nov. 26, 2001
Posted 25 November 2001:
Inevitably the final home game of any college football season produces bursts of nostalgia, random reminiscing brought on by unannounced cues. A restaurant sign. The smell of the parking lot. The sound of the band. The stern look of an usher.
As this Notre Dame football weekend commences, surely more than the 43 Irish seniors, who will be honored Saturday, will take a trip down memory lane. Even if for Notre Dame fans lately, going down that lane feels like heading the wrong way down a one-way street.
With that in mind, a look at perhaps the five biggest errors of the Davie Era, decisions that had they been handled differently might not have made this weekend such a mental landmark.
1. Saying no to a bowl game after the '96 season. People tend to forget how good a football team the Irish had in Lou Holtz's final season. Had Notre Dame beaten USC in overtime instead of losing 27-20 in Los Angeles, the Fiesta Bowl was there to extend an invitation. Instead, the Irish went home 8-3 and foolishly turned away other possibilities, including the Gator Bowl and the chance to play a 10-1 North Carolina team. Davie never got the chance to build any momentum, internally or externally, that a bowl game would have provided. The whole idea of naming a successor from within the staff, like Davie, was to ensure a smooth transition. Yet internally, the football program was in shambles when Holtz left, with Davie wanting to play in a bowl, players wanting just to go home, and the administration mistakenly thinking it could wait another year to end a three-year bowl-victory drought. Little did anyone know that five years later, Notre Dame would still be waiting.
2. Deciding not to settle the Joe Moore age-discrimination lawsuit. The first mistake was letting a first-time head coach fire an aging assistant without being told how to properly do so, but the university legal team's blunder compounded that goof. If for no other reason that it will go down as the university's single-biggest error in judgment relating to the football program during Davie's tenure. The Moore mess strained Davie's relationship with fans, alums and the media -- and not necessarily in that order.
Notre Dame's legal stubbornness led to the inconceivable scene of Davie taking the witness stand nearly two years later and having a lawyer coax him into saying things about Lou Holtz that would be twisted out of context. The PR disaster, which came in the summer of '98, following Davie's disastrous first season, caused irreparable harm to an image that never recovered. Unfair or not, to some members of the old guard of Notre Dame football fans Davie became known as a back-stabber who plotted his way into the head coach's office. Thus the fan support so many college head coaches lean on during tough times never materialized for Davie, who really can blame much of his bad karma among Irish alums on bad lawyering.
3. Inviting Ron Powlus back for a fifth year in 1997.
Simply put, Davie panicked. As a first-time head coach thrust in America's spotlight, he put more faith in a quarterback who didn't fit his philosophy than in his philosophy. Powlus forced Davie to coach unnaturally, to build an offense around a right arm instead of a pair of legs, to publicly vacillate in a manner that has become all too familiar. A shaky Jarious Jackson, then a sophomore, could have won seven games in '97 as easily as Powlus did -- and maybe more. This move foreshadowed Davie's inability to establish any kind of identity for Notre Dame football, which has become as generic as ever. Ultimately, Powlus returning for his fifth year only meant Davie would be starting his second year from scratch, no way to build momentum that has been impossible to sustain.
4. Taking a safety in the final two minutes of the LSU victory in 1998. Judging by the way Davie yelled at former offensive coordinator Jim Colletto in the locker room after the game, assume it was Colletto's decision to have Jarious Jackson drop back and take a safety to help preserve a 39-36 victory. In his worst nightmare, no way Colletto imagined Jackson would sprain his knee on the play and thus wipe out any chance of Notre Dame beating USC the following week and securing a $10 million major-bowl berth. But that's what happened. With Jackson out, a bad Trojan team beat the Irish 10-0 and instead of cashing in big-time in an elite bowl, Notre Dame and Jackson limped to the Gator Bowl and lost to Georgia Tech. If Notre Dame never calls for the safety and Jackson stays healthy against LSU and subsequently USC, then Davie would have had two BCS-level bowl seasons in five years. And it's hard to get rid of a coach with that on his resume.
5. Underestimating Oregon State in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Maybe it was a Pac-10 bias. Maybe it was the surprise of signing a contract extension. Maybe it was just a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But whatever it was, the Notre Dame coaching staff failed to adequately prepare the Irish for their Fiesta Bowl opponent. Unraveled and uninspired, Notre Dame took a 32-point beating from which it has never recovered. It would have been one thing to lose the school's fifth straight bowl game in a competitive fashion. But this game got so embarrassingly violent that it should have carried a "Parental Discretion Is Advised'' label. Thus all the momentum created by a seven-game winning streak to end the season evaporated in the desert heat, and has yet to reappear.
Posted on 18 November 2001:
A South Bend Tribune poll this week, unscientific but insightful, revealed that 89 percent of 4,467 on-line and print readers believe Notre Dame should dismiss Bob Davie. Which struck me as a number higher than expected.
I didn't know Davie had that much support.
You certainly cannot go anywhere in South Bend without hearing the groans.
It got so bad this week that I began keeping count of consecutive conversations without the names Bob Davie or Jon Gruden coming up. My personal record so far is five. But two of those conversations involved people who wouldn't know Jon Gruden from Charles Grodin, and the other involved my dog.
Obviously, on the general topic of Notre Dame football, the subject has changed from "What's wrong?'' to "Who's next?''
I went on record the morning after the Boston College loss with the opinion that if Notre Dame wanted to repair its football program then it had no choice but to hire a new head coach.
Stating this to the Notre Dame fan community was like suggesting more recess to a school of kids; and nearly 400 E-mails from fed-up Irish fans since the BC game confirm that.
They say the final days of the Gerry Faust Era felt like this. But in those days, the Internet was something you caught fish with, and the NBC family included Punky Brewster, but not yet Notre Dame.
In other words, in 1985, fan unrest had fewer outlets and bad football had a smaller TV audience.
But technology and capitalism have conspired to make Notre Dame football more of a democracy than ever. Now the people have spoken, on-campus and off-campus, in passionate letters and poster boards, in tele-polls and on T-shirts. And their voice sounds so shrill and unified that university officials cannot ignore it if they truly care about the football program.
A head coach with so little public support cannot recruit, cannot hit the banquet circuit without fear of being pelted with rubber chicken, cannot ever reclaim a home-field advantage, cannot function as well as a place like Notre Dame needs him to function.
Funny you should ask. Because a range of possible answers have been offered from as far away as Eugene, Ore., and the Bay Area to Boston, and even a few places in-between, such as Norman, Okla., and West Lafayette.
Be clear that none of these names on the list come from the two people who make the only list that matters: Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White and University President Rev. Edward A. Malloy. They may have others on theirs; only they know for sure.
These are just the names we think you might be hearing more of in the next several weeks, if you haven't heard plenty about them already.
Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders. The favored one, if not the odds-on favorite to replace Davie. A website showing how desperate Notre Dame fans want him illustrates the point -- www.IrishGruden.com. Nobody knows for sure if Gruden, with one year left on his Raider contract, has an out clause for a college head coaching job. He once identified Notre Dame as his dream job and has done or said nothing to squash the rumors. Offers rare blend of offensive football genius, take-no-prisoners discipline and passion packaged in a made-for-TV persona. If the 38-year-old Gruden indeed is interested, then waiting until after the Raiders' season ends will be worth it if Notre Dame identifies him as the best candidate. With three small kids and a high school diploma from Clay High, a 10-year contract offer to coach at Notre Dame might be tough to ignore. Only drawback: Gruden lacks a familiarity with the academic culture, causing many to wonder if Notre Dame's graduation rate might drop as much as its winning percentage could rise.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma. Make him Dream Choice No. 1-A. Stoops has built the Sooner program back to Barry Switzer-like heights in three short years, so no head coach in college football is hotter. Like Gruden, Stoops would provide Notre Dame instant credibility and perhaps the quickest path back into the national-title picture. It took him just two seasons in Norman, a place they probably would rename Stoopsville if he promised to stay forever. And he just may, but a friend of Stoops' thought the OU coach might be intrigued by the Notre Dame job. White won't know unless he asks. Stoops had a strong Catholic upbringing in Youngstown, Ohio, and attended Cardinal Mooney High School, a place where young boys learn how football and religion go hand in hand. Sound familiar?
Steve Mariucci, San Francisco 49ers. As the well-traveled story goes, Mariucci and best friend Tom Izzo, the Michigan State basketball coach, made a bet while growing up in Iron Mountain, Mich., who would be the first one to coach at Notre Dame. If Gruden and Stoops have entanglements, Izzo may wind up owing Mariucci a Coke. Spent more time in college football than pro, so "Mooch'' knows that SAT and ACT aren't third-down statistics. Considered to possess enough pizzazz to handle a national stage and may want to return to the college game after recent public dust-ups with star receiver Terrell Owens. Notre Dame needs someone with proven coaching credentials who reveres the romanticism of the place, and Mariucci satisfies both criteria.
Mike Bellotti, Oregon. From his days at Arizona State, Notre Dame AD Kevin White knows Bellotti well -- some say very well. Last month in the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard, columnist Ron Bellamy surmised about the 50-year-old who has been a head coach for 12 seasons: "Mike Bellotti is a great fit for Notre Dame ... Bellotti would bring that exciting offense that has been so productive for Oregon. He'd bring an admirable graduation rate, and a coaching reputation free from any hint of impropriety. He'd bring that phenomenal success in close games. He'd bring that poise dealing with the media -- the Chicago types wouldn't ruffle him -- and with administrators and donors.'' All things considered, a proven winner from a major conference might represent Notre Dame's safest choice among the first tier of potential candidates.
Joe Tiller, Purdue. A magician with the playbook, Tiller has a knack of turning programs around at Wyoming and now Purdue. His dry wit might take some Domers time to get used to, but winning right away like he did at Purdue would hasten the acceptance. Imagine that offense with Notre Dame's talent. Tiller, 48, has an academic record at Purdue as impressive as his winning record; one recent report ranked Purdue (11th) just ahead of Notre Dame (12th) for incoming freshman SAT scores from 1997. He has flirted in the past with Washington and Colorado, and that was before a defending Rose Bowl team couldn't sell out the home stadium. Any program in need of revitalization would be foolish to ignore Tiller, the Big Ten's best head coach.
Tim Murphy, Harvard. An intriguing possibility but admittedly a longshot, Murphy worked two seasons for AD Kevin White at Maine back in 1987-88 when Murphy was a 30-year-old coaching prodigy. He moved on to Cincinnati, where he enjoyed the school's best season in 17 years but generally struggled (17-37-1). That led him to Harvard where he is 47-37 over the past seven years and is in the midst of a battle for the Ivy League title. The Harvard background might make Murphy, 45, appealing to Notre Dame's ivory-tower crowd. White still may see greatness in his former pupil. Truth is, Murphy might have been a better choice to replace Holtz than Davie because Notre Dame needs a big name worse now than it did then. Still, in some ways Murphy resembles the football equivalent of Irish hoops coach Mike Brey: an experienced head coach who knows how to operate in an academic environment with a resume that suggests big things ahead.
Tyrone Willingham, Stanford. Notre Dame already lured a men's soccer coach from the Cardinal (Bobby Clarke) and some think it should do the same with the football coach. Can't say I agree. While including Willingham, 47, as a potential candidate makes sense given his experience balancing football with chemistry labs, his average seven-year record (40-35-1) makes him a risky choice. Additionally, like Davie, he seems uncomfortable the brighter the lights get and entering this season had just as many losing records, (three) as winning records. Unlike he can with Murphy because of the personal relationship, White may not be able to look beyond Willingham's average win-loss record.
Rick Neuheisel, Washington. Has developed a reputation for fourth-quarter comebacks that rival Joe Montana's. Only 40, Neuheisel has the Huskies ranked No. 8 after their Rose-Bowl season and has gone 57-21 in seven seasons as a head coach. A lawyer whose well-rounded, renaissance ways would play well on the Notre Dame circuit and NBC, Neuheisel seems like a guy Kevin White would love to hire. Sure, he has had two jobs already and always rumored to be headed for the third, but Lou Holtz came to Notre Dame after a somewhat nomadic existence. And Holtz still represents the standard by which modern-day Notre Dame coaches will be measured.
Posted on 18 November 2001:
Just seconds after promising that the Bob Davie Era of Notre Dame football would not include a litter of clever slogans, Bob Davie wafted one out to the media anyway back in August of 1997.
If only coaching the most-exposed, most-storied, most-loved and most-loathed college football program in the country could be distilled into something that simple.
Ironically, the ugliest moments in Davie's five seasons as football's version of the grand poohbah in South Bend primarily have had little to do with the on-the-field performance of the football team.
The Joe Moore litigation.
The Lou Holtz rift.
The "talent gap" with Michigan State.
Transfers like Zak Kustok, Albert Poree, Jeff Roehl and Jamaar Taylor all living happily ever after elsewhere.
Yet when Irish athletic director Kevin White sits down to evaluate whether Davie will return for a sixth year, the things that are likely to weigh the heaviest in that equation will come down to "all ball."
Whatever happens, Davie will be applauded for maintaining ND's academic ideals, for retention of players, for avoiding a Woody Hayes-eque meltdown. But there are plenty of pitfalls that could have been avoided or should have been fixed -- on the field.
The following is a look at just what went wrong.
In the line of fire
Jim Colletto can laugh now, but he probably is too classy to chuckle.
He is living on a golf course in Maryland, eating fresh crab and counting the extra digits in his paychecks as he admires his Super Bowl ring.
The Baltimore Ravens offensive line coach was a lightning rod for criticism during his two seasons as ND's offensive coordinator and line coach, which in turn prolonged the honeymoon period for Davie.
But the reality is ND's line hasn't been the same since Colletto departed following the 1998 season. In 1998, Colletto's line paved the way for 212.5 rushing yards a contest while allowing just nine sacks. The next season, ND's rushing total dipped to 182.0 while the line gave up 33 sacks -- the highest total since ND began consistently tracking that statistic in 1992.
It could be argued that the 1999 offensive line was a rebuilding project, but in 2000 a seasoned Irish line yielded a still-staggering 20 sacks, and it had already surpassed that total by midseason of this year. In fact, the 2001 incarnation is on a pace to surpass the 33 sacks from two seasons ago.
And Davie knows full well, ND will never contend for a national title without stellar line play.
So does White.
There's no substitute
Irish sophomore linebacker Mike Goolsby was supposed to be this generation's Michael Stonebreaker. Still could be.
Right now he's a rumor.
He runs around on special teams, then rots on the bench for the rest of the games.
Davie will point out that he has three superb starters in Rocky Boiman, Tyreo Harrison and Courtney Watson. That's not the point.
The point is Harrison and Boiman will graduate in the spring. Then Davie will be stuck next fall with two starters who have barely played.
He'll lament that the Irish are too inexperienced at linebacker to help a team negotiate a tough schedule. And he's right.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Get future starters like Goolsby, Ryan Grant, Jerome Collins, Derek Curry, Preston Jackson and Quentin Burrell some time at their respective positions when the game is no longer in question -- or better yet, play them a handful of meaningful downs.
But Davie probably won't.
This same pattern is why Notre Dame finds itself in a weekly bind at offensive guard this year and why sophomore cornerback Vontez Duff still sometimes makes freshman mistakes.
It's perpetual rebuilding. And that leads to perpetual excuses.
Irish fans point to ND's failure to lure quarterback prospect C.J. Leak away from Wake Forest in February of 1999 as a turning point of sorts in the Davie Era, but it's doubtful the high-maintenance prodigy would be ND's starter at this point.
He languished miserably with the Demon Deacons for two seasons, then defected to Tennessee. There he is sitting out the season, per NCAA rules, before he takes a shot at playing safety in 2002.
ND fans were half-right. The real damage, though, wasn't losing Leak. It was coming up with no quarterbacks in the 1999 class.
The same thing happened in 2001. Thus all three of ND's scholarship quarterbacks are in the same sophomore class (though Jared Clark and Carlyle Holiday may eventually gain a fifth year of eligibility).
It's a mix that's likely to produce a transfer after this season and numbers problems for at least a couple more years.
And speaking of transfers, the move that got ND out of sync with its quarterback recruiting in the first place was misjudging Kustok.
Kustok clearly outplayed Eric Chappell in the spring practices heading into Kustok's sophomore season (1998). But when the fall rolled around, Kustok slid all the way down to No. 4 on the depth chart, behind incumbent Jarious Jackson, newcomer Arnaz Battle and Chappell.
The ND coaches weren't sure how well Kustok would pass the ball, but they were convinced he couldn't run. So he ran to Northwestern.
Just the void of losing a quarterback hurt from a numbers standpoint, but Kustok makes ND look bad every time he sets foot on the field for the Wildcats, not to mention when he runs the ball well -- which is often.
One of five Unitas Golden Arm finalists in 2001, Kustok rushed for 209 yards in seven games in 1999 and a school-record for quarterbacks 505 in 2000. This season, he's on pace to break that record and score more rushing TDs than any Irish player -- yes, including the tailbacks -- this season.
What does it all add up to? With Battle's move to wide receiver and Gary Godsey's shift to tight end, ND does not have a quarterback on its roster from four of its past five recruiting classes.
It will still take more time for ND to recover, no matter how gifted Holiday turns out to be.
No turning the corner
The Irish coaching staff can puff out their chests over Notre Dame's No. 11 rating in pass defense, based on total passing yards. But the real measure of a defense's ability to stand up to the pass is the pass efficiency defense ranking -- and ND's No. 80 mark is on the verge of the worst of the Davie Era.
Pass efficiency takes into account not only yards, but interceptions, TD passes, completion percentage by opposing quarterbacks and yards per catch. That ND could be sixth in pass yardage allowed but 83rd in how they play pass defense points to one thing -- ND remains chronically susceptible to the big play.
When the Irish were a more passive, read-react defense, they were susceptible to the big play. In their more attacking style, the big plays in the passing game still burn them. Look no further than the Michigan State and Boston College games.
When you add in occasional poor clock management, 12-men-on-the-field penalties, 10-men-on-the-field lapses, and all the perceptual wars Davie fights, the slogan "All Ball" would seem to have limited shelf life.
And there are no clever slogans to hide behind.
Posted on 11 November 2001:
I admit it. During Saturday's football game against Tennessee, I was one of those who did not heed the call to create a "sea of green" in Notre Dame Stadium. I wore The Shirt as a show of solidarity with both the football team and the students of this University. As a member of student government, one might have expected to see me supporting a "student led" effort to wear kelly green. However, it is my position in student government that allowed me to learn the real story behind the green campaign. Sad to say, I found that the real motivation behind the movement was not the unification of Notre Dame fans, but rather simple corporate greed.
On Monday, I learned that Robert Pazornik and a group of off-campus seniors had decided to push for everyone in the stadium - students, alumni and South Bend residents - to wear a single color to combat the Volunteer orange. This color was blue. The rationale was simple - the student body already had The Shirt, and almost everyone has a blue shirt in their closets somewhere. For those who came to campus in another color, a blue campaign would promote sales of The Shirt. This in turn would benefit the students of the University, as proceeds from The Shirt are split between student-run clubs and an emergency student aid fund.
These students approached Director of Athletics Kevin White with a coherent plan to publicize the "wearing of the blue" to those in the South Bend community and to alumni using a listserv administered by the Alumni Association. White was impressed by their initiative and pledged athletic department funds to support the campaign.
In the process of obtaining these funds, however, the plan hit a snag. Representatives from the bookstore and the adidas Corporation opposed the plan, as they had been planning for some time to mass-market green shirts this weekend. They hadn't yet notified the Athletic Department or White, but apparently their marketing plan was unstoppable. The blue/green conflict went to the University administration, and the decision was made that the students would only get University funding and listserv access for a unity campaign if they united behind the green shirt proposed by the bookstore and adidas.
Faced with a choice between green unity and none at all, the students chose to back the wearing of the green, hoping that the bookstore's marketing plan would be as effective as their own.
The results of this campaign were seen Saturday. Where was the "sea of green?" The student section was a puddle of green, but there was little support from the 60,000 other Irish fans in the stadium. Why did the campaign fail? The answer is simple. I'm not a marketing major, but even I know that beginning to publicize a campaign 24 hours before kickoff is not an effective strategy. For all of its corporate know-how, the bookstore management goofed on this one. One would think that if the kelly green shirts had been in the plans for weeks, the publicity campaign might be a little more advanced. At the very least, a simple phone call to White's office would have been appropriate. As it stands, the bookstore and adidas took money out of the hands of students, who had an effective week-long marketing strategy already laid out and threw it to the wind.
Let me make this clear: I wholeheartedly support fan unity at the football games and I support the student organizers of this unity effort. I seriously question, however, the motivation behind the bookstore promotion of kelly green and the University decision to support this effort over the recommendation of the students and the Athletic Department. As I said before, the promotion of blue would have led to increased funding for student clubs and emergency aid. Moreover, class councils, clubs and other organizations are not allowed to sell their own apparel at concession stands until The Shirt sells out, so by promoting a conflicting shirt, the bookstore, adidas and the University administration are preventing student organizations from raising funds that they need to survive.
Why would institutions that profess to care about this University community make such a decision? The only answer I can come up with is simple greed. The promotion of a new shirt brings in more money for the bookstore and adidas, plain and simple. If the bookstore really cared about unity, it would not be charging students $13 for a shirt that they will wear to two games. In fact, if it really cared about student unity, it would not be charging us money at all. But let's be truthful: the bookstore and adidas care nothing for Notre Dame students and the Irish football team. Their appeal to unity is a thin veil for yet another attempt to increase profit for Follett and adidas shareholders.
Throughout my three-plus years on this campus, I have continually heard the message that money is not everything in life, and it is a view that I personally espouse. To the Follett Corporation and the adidas Corporation: I ask you to demonstrate that your business philosophies have such a holistic theme. I request that you reimburse the students of this University for the monies we have lost through decreased sales of The Shirt this weekend by donating the proceeds from sales of the kelly green shirts to The Shirt Fund. University president Father Edward Malloy, I also respectfully ask you to take a serious look at Notre Dame's relationship with its corporate partners.
Follett and adidas have shown that they care about the well-being of this University community only because of the profit they can gain from us. Are they truly "partners" in our mission to develop students who will make this world a better place?
Brendan P. Harris
Nov. 4, 2001
Posted on 4 November 2001:
SOUTH BEND -- Initially reluctant to reveal what specifically led to the decision to pull the plug on a planned ESPN all-access special, Notre Dame officials responded Wednesday by saying the producer for the program simply came on too strong.
They claimed their first clue came at the first meeting last Thursday between ND officials and Stephen Fleming, the ESPN producer hired to go behind the scenes with the Irish. Fleming, officials said, asked to follow backup quarterback Matt LoVecchio around campus this week.
Nothing intrigues a reporter looking for controversy like a former starting quarterback who lost his job, so Notre Dame's antennae went up.
The next hint came Monday morning when injured quarterback Carlyle Holiday reported to the stadium to meet with team doctors. ESPN asked to follow Holiday into the training room during the diagnosis of his knee, but the sophomore felt uncomfortable with that.
Yet even after being told to stay out by a Notre Dame sports information assistant, a cameraman ended up in the training room talking to head athletic trainer Jim Russ.
The final straw came Monday afternoon when Bob Davie decided to address the entire Irish team before practice without any cameras present. The ESPN crew was told of Davie's request yet asked the head coach just before the meeting if they could videotape the talk.
Davie responded by saying, "Didn't we already tell you no?'' The decision then was made by Davie and Notre Dame to abandon the idea even if it might have including a flattering portrayal of a struggling head coach.
Davie's concern already had risen by that point after ND officials learned that the crew had asked a student assistant the best way to get into players' dorm rooms.
Had the Irish not been coming off a devastating loss, the openness might have been different. Then again, Notre Dame officials say they still would have objected to any crew disobeying specific requests at any time.
"However it came about, no matter the circumstances, they didn't earn anybody's trust,'' Notre Dame sports information director John Heisler said. "They didn't earn Bob's trust.''
Fleming acknowledges "pushing the envelope,'' because "that's the nature of the show.'' He denied being interested in LoVecchio's story specifically and stressed that the show relies on "natural sound'' to work.
"Without getting into a he-said, they-said ... I don't want to refute individual things,'' Fleming said Wednesday night. "Let's just say their perception of what we were trying to do was different than what our mission was.
"I think they were looking for a reason to pull the plug.''
Chicago-based Intersport, the firm that hired Fleming, expressed regret that Notre Dame couldn't deliver the access.
Notre Dame maintains that had Fleming shown more patience and professionalism, he would have left town this weekend with ample access and compelling stories.
The university had an array of player-driven stories for ESPN to follow:
Wednesday the crew was scheduled to go with freshman Brandon Hoyte to an area elementary school where he volunteers with the kindergarten class.
Later Wednesday, senior Shane Walton had arranged a hospital visit.
Today offensive lineman Casey Robin had invited the crew to videotape the weekly offensive line Cajun feast prepared by Robin's dad at a local hotel.
Today the crew also was scheduled to go with Julius Jones, Tony Fisher and Jim Molinaro to a ceramics class to watch the Irish players use a pottery wheel.
Other planned activities included watching Monday Night Football with players, eating dinner with Holiday and LoVecchio, going to class with Tyreo Harrison and attending a career fair with selected players.
On Saturday, Davie had agreed to let the crew attend the team Mass and have game-day locker-room access.
The crew already had taken a two-hour campus tour with captain Grant Irons, gone through a weight-lifting session with Walton and Ron Israel and sat in on position meetings Sunday.
After the position meetings, one of the crew members reportedly walked out and said, "That's kind of boring.''
"I was disappointed they wouldn't have more sensitivity to the situation this week,'' Heisler said. "I told (Fleming), 'Be patient, bide your time, things will happen.' ... Eventually, we started to ask, 'Do they really need to be that aggressive?' ''
Posted on 4 November 2001
Now Bob Davie risks losing the students, the first sign of a campus mutiny. Tuesday's poll on the Notre Dame-student run Web site, NDToday.com, asked, "Notre Dame will beat Tennessee because," and one of the choices was "C) Bob Davie just received an envelope containing a powdery white substance." Ouch.
The worst of it? The loudest chuckles will come from ND alums, whose support Davie had lost long ago, if he ever had it at all. Domers from near and far have spent the last few weeks alternately pressuring athletic director Kevin White to make a change and reporters who cover the Irish to start naming names of possible Davie replacements. This week they actually want more than names. They want arrival times, family photos and religious affiliations.
As for regular Notre Dame fans, just a guess, but Dump Davie T-shirts will be on back order by Saturday, and Dump Davie long underwear will be all the rage by the Navy game Nov. 17. Davie lost the last of the loyalists when his team lost to Boston College last Saturday night, if not earlier.
More evidence of Irish faithful turning on Davie comes in proof of them turning Notre Dame off: USA Today reported last week that ratings for NBC home games (2.3) were down 38 percent this season.
To say Bob Davie has a perception problem is like saying the airline industry has a cash-flow problem. Nothing this month could be more obvious.
So that makes it all the more befuddling, and unfortunate for Davie, that he threw away maybe his last chance to publicly show the qualities of a Notre Dame football coach his vast constituency has been waiting five years to see.
Davie announced Tuesday that he had pulled the plug on a week-long, ESPN all-access look at the Notre Dame football program. After one day of letting two cameramen into meeting rooms, training rooms and the locker room, Davie changed his mind and shut the door. "I didn't realize what we were getting into,'' Davie explained. "I'd rather do that than make our players and coaches uncomfortable ... I think in the course of time you wind up being a pretender if you're worried about perception.
"I'm not worried about perception.''
That will go down as Mistake No. 1 for Bob Davie at Notre Dame. In the end, that stubborn point of view has hurt Davie as the Notre Dame head football coach every bit as much as his fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants offensive philosophy. From the head coach to the secretaries, whoever works for a football program with its own TV network, et al, must worry about perception. It should be in every New Employee packet.
And for a head football coach who doesn't compete for national championships, well, he at least better be compelling, better be more than a pretty face. Davie never has let the public see that side of him, or if it exists.
As a result now when Davie needs friends and supporters outside his inner circle more than ever, he has fewer than he might have had if he had better cultivated the fan base, especially students and alums.
Instead since Day One, or the Joe Moore lawsuit -- which came about Day Five -- Davie has guarded his thoughts and feelings like they were currency. His words were so careful, his emotions so measured, his circle so tight. What felt like self-discipline to Davie came off as aloof detachment to Notre Dame fans dying to be inspired, included, engaged. What felt right for the job only made Davie look wrong for the part.
Sending ESPN home early only underscored the perceptual mess the Davie Era has been, the latest in a series of missed opportunities to make the harshest critic empathize with a head coach who has been greatly misunderstood.
The freelance producer of the segment, a 26-year TV sports veteran named Stephen Fleming, saw that potential and "had an objective to cover coach Davie the coach, the educator and the man.''
"The last thing I had in mind was to show Notre Dame in a bad light in any way,'' said Fleming, also the co-producer of ESPN's Rites of Autumn special. "I thought I might be able to tell a story about how a head coach helps his team overcome a tough time, show him as a sympathetic figure. When I hit town (last week) I felt bad for him and I saw a chance to really tell a good story.''
Fleming even envisioned a closing scene in a jubilant Irish locker room Saturday, capping a week of diligence, determination and the kind of Notre Dame spirit he had always admired. The way he describes the magic of Notre Dame football is the way many fans would like to hear their head coach describe it.
"It's a legacy, it's a state of mind,'' Fleming said. "Notre Dame is something special and it couldn't have hurt me more personally that they decided to change their mind. It's the first time I've had something like this happen in 26 years. It's bizarre.''
Added spokesman Rex Lardner of Chicago-based Intersport, the production group ESPN hired to shoot the Notre Dame special and others like it at Miami, Oklahoma, Army and Navy: "When we talked to Notre Dame about this, we understood the need to have access and Notre Dame couldn't deliver the access. We just agreed to disagree, unfortunately. There was a little bit of a misunderstanding. Access is interpretation.''
Perception is reality, especially at America's most visible college football program.
And the perception has been created that Bob Davie cannot repair recent damage to that program's stature, on campus and across the country.
Even if Davie doesn't worry about that perception, others at the university certainly must.
Posted on Oct. 28, 2001
Listen closely to the echoes Jon Gruden has awakened at Notre Dame. Heed the ominous signs, Raiders fans. Visualize the most dynamic fit since ''Rock'' bled green beneath the Golden Dome.
Gruden, whose dream job has always been the one Knute Rockne made legendary, sent a subtle message last week that he would be honored to coach Notre Dame. An equally subtle response from Notre Dame officials translated into, ''We're intrigued.''
Gruden is precisely what Notre Dame Coach Bob Davie is not: so passionate about Fighting Irish tradition that, at 16, Gruden traded punches with a fan at Notre Dame Stadium who criticized then-coach Dan Devine. Irish eyes are achin' to replace Davie's blase sideline demeanor with Gruden's game-face snarl. Already, many Irish fans view Gruden as their next best hope after Touchdown Jesus and the leprechaun.
Educated guess: Gruden will abandon an aging Oakland ship with Captain Ahab -- a financially drained Al Davis -- still at the wheel. Soon after this season ends, Gruden will become the most expensive and trumpeted addition to Notre Dame's program since 21,000 seats were added to the stadium in 1997.
If you've already dismissed Gruden-to-Notre Dame as just another talk-radio rumor, consider Gruden's history in Indiana and recent interviews he did with NFL.com and the South Bend Tribune. Gruden was a ballboy for Bobby Knight's basketball team at Indiana when his dad coached football under Lee Corso for four years. After Jim Gruden moved 200 miles north to coach running backs under Devine, Notre Dame stars from quarterback Blair Kiel to running back Vagas Ferguson often went to see their ''little brother'' Jon play quarterback for South Bend's Clay High.
That's when Gruden fell under the spell. He told NFL.com: ''To see that marching band walking across campus at 8 a.m., to look up and see Touchdown Jesus and the Golden Dome, to feel Rockne's ghost -- the best word I can use to describe it is chilling. Every time I see Notre Dame on TV it gives me goose bumps.''
This outpouring raised the eyebrows of South Bend Tribune columnist David Haugh, who attended the Raiders' game in Indianapolis last week. Before the game, Raiders officials told Haugh that Gruden would not respond to questions about Notre Dame. As Haugh introduced himself to Gruden after the Raiders had beaten the Colts, an official intervened.
But Gruden waved off the official, ushered Haugh into a quiet area of the locker room and talked for 10 to 15 minutes. Gruden began by saying all the right things about how focused he is on the Raiders, then proceeded to sound like a coach placing an ad in the South Bend Tribune.
''His eyes really lit up when he started talking about Notre Dame,'' Haugh said by phone. ''I was surprised he would talk at all about it after such a big win. But it sounded like he was talking about his dream job.''
Gruden told Haugh: ''I feel comfortable in this state. It's like going back to the future. My dad coaching at Notre Dame with Joe Montana and all those great players really gave me great ambition to somehow become a coach someday.''
Gruden indicated that South Bend would be a great place to raise a family. His sons are 1, 4 and 7. So, inspired by Gruden and encouraged by ESPN analyst and Notre Dame grad Joe Theismann, Haugh wrote a ''Why not Gruden?'' column.
Of course, Notre Dame still has a coach. So Haugh waited for the usual reprimand from a Notre Dame official that comes after writing anything remotely controversial. I received my share while writing for the Chicago Tribune.
''I fully expected to get a call,'' Haugh said. ''I haven't heard a word. I don't find that terribly insignificant.''
Just the opposite. Now comes word that the highly publicized ''five-year extension'' given Davie by new Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White two years ago is really a series of one-year deals. Davie did manage to win a home game Saturday in which the Irish were favored over USC. But Notre Dame (3-3) could lose Saturday at Boston College. Then it has Tennessee and Navy at home before finishing at Stanford and Purdue. This looks like 5-6 or even 4-7. Many sources consider Davie a goner.
He has alienated Irish die-hards by treating Notre Dame lore with the tolerance of a non-believing outsider. But in fairness to Davie, Notre Dame severely tightened its admissions requirements for athletes after Lou Holtz's last straw -- trying to slip Randy Moss into school.
But Gruden would have the clout to ease those restrictions and command the kind of money Notre Dame can pay if it chooses -- say, $2 million a year for 10 years. Notre Dame could afford to buy out the final year of Gruden's contract -- no doubt Davis could use the money. Gruden, who's making $1.2 million this season, would be worth it on Raiders mystique alone. Some high school stars bored by today's Notre Dame might open doors and minds to the guy who coached the Silver and Black.
Sure, if Gruden waited until after next season he might land a total-control NFL job for $4 million or $5 million a year. But what if another coach -- such as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, a staunch Catholic from Notre Dame hotbed Youngstown, Ohio -- turned around the Irish and stayed for 20 years?
No, if this is your dream job, you take it now. Gruden, 38, is certainly young enough to return to pro football if he wants.
If his Raiders don't win it all this season, they'll start looking as old as the owner who still has final say over their roster and philosophy. Maybe Gruden is just using Notre Dame as leverage with Davis. More likely, his heart is in South Bend.
Posted on 28 October 2001:
He awakens every morning in his northern California home at exactly 3:17 a.m., and legend has it that his alarm clock once blared the Notre Dame Victory March to help him rise and shine a little quicker.
Waking up to "Wake Up The Echoes" -- it sounds like an NBC promo.
Perhaps one day?
"I'm not aware of it at all,'' Gruden said in a corner of the RCA Dome late Sunday night after his Oakland Raiders beat the Indianapolis Colts 23-18 to become the AFC's only 4-1 team.
He was asked what effect, if any, recent national rumors linking his name with Notre Dame had on his preparation.
"I'm interested in Notre Dame doing well, obviously,'' Gruden said. "Those were great years for me. (But) everybody who knows me knows I love football and I'm pretty focused on the job I have.''
That's obvious by having the best team in the AFC. But just as obvious was the glint in Gruden's eye when the subject of Notre Dame football came up Sunday night.
Turns out that not much stirs Gruden's spirit quite like the sounds and sights of Notre Dame football. When Jim Gruden coached on Dan Devine's staff from 1978-80 while Jon attended Clay High School, for example, the son used to help the father by giving tours of the Notre Dame campus to Irish recruits.
Inevitably, bonds developed. Between Gruden and the Golden Dome. Between Golden Domers and Gruden. Former Irish players from that era like Blair Kiel and Vagas Ferguson even used to show up on the Clay sideline when Gruden quarterbacked the Colonials in 1981.
Then when the son decided as a teen-ager to pursue coaching, the father gave him something to think about: the same videotapes Irish coaches used to sell prospects on Notre Dame football.
"Jon used to sit and watch the recruiting films of the history of Notre Dame football -- that really instilled in him his appreciation for the game,'' ESPN analyst and Notre Dame grad Joe Theismann recalled Sunday night before the game.
"Jon's a South Bend guy,'' Theismann added. "He used to drive recruits around. I spent time with Jon (Sunday) and his roots in football come from the University of Notre Dame. His passion, his love, the tradition he learned at Notre Dame.''
If you don't believe Theismann, to whom hyperbole is a friend, listen to Gruden himself.
"Those were great years,'' Gruden said, his golden hair soaked with sweat after the win. "I feel comfortable in this state. Seeing all those signs coming in, for Fort Wayne, Carmel ... and watching the news last night I see Bloomington South and other schools I know. It's like going back to the future, like one of those movies. Everybody who knows me knows I've always loved Indiana.''
Especially that dot in the northern part called Notre Dame, Ind.
When Gruden was being pursued by Ohio State last winter, one West Coast paper quoted him as calling Notre Dame his "dream job.'' Another quoted Gruden as saying, "My dad coaching at Notre Dame with Joe Montana, some of the great players that Notre Dame had at that time, just really gave me great ambition to somehow become a coach someday.''
Then last month Gruden reminded everyone just how formative those years in South Bend were.
"To see that (Notre Dame) marching band walking across campus at 8 o'clock in the morning, to look up and see Touchdown Jesus and the Golden Dome, to feel Rockne's ghost, the best word I can use to describe it is chilling,'' Gruden wrote last month in his Sept. 27 diary for NFL.com. "Every time I see Notre Dame on TV, it gives me goose bumps.''
These days every time many Notre Dame fans see Gruden on TV, they get an uncontrollable case of the yips. Some probably even begin chanting, "Gru-dy, Gru-dy, Gru-dy!''
Take Sunday night, for instance. Gruden stalked the Raider sideline like a National Guardsman at an airport, exuding power, instilling confidence, restoring pride. How many Irish fans in the national TV audience imagined for a second that the RCA Dome were Notre Dame Stadium?
Gruden got more ESPN face time Sunday night than Chris Berman.
Such as when Raider running back Zack Crockett ran onto the field late for a field-goal attempt and drew a penalty flag, the ESPN cameras immediately zoomed in on the crease of crisis in Gruden's brow. His scowl elicited pity for Crockett, and a hope that the coach wouldn't make him hitchhike back to the Bay Area.
Later when Oakland end Rod Coleman jumped offsides, anger nearly jumped out of Gruden's eye socket. Sure, People Magazine has listed Gruden as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World but he would also make the Top 10 list of the NFL's Most Combustible.
The Jon Gruden wind-up doll. It's what so many Notre Dame football fans want for Christmas.
The Notre Dame head coaching job is not open. But if it were a door, it would be ajar. These are not the times of wine and roses for Notre Dame football. More like whine and Rosaries.
"It's sad, just sad,'' Theismann added. "I've spoken at the dinners and I love Notre Dame like the air I breathe, and it hurts. It's so disheartening. I like Bob (Davie), but from a football perspective ... West Virginia's a bad football team. Notre Dame made them look good (Saturday). That's scary. I'll leave it at that.''
It's not fair to Davie to say that he still cannot win enough games to return next season. He has six Saturdays left to prove otherwise and sway public opinion.
But it is fair to acknowledge the buzz surrounding the symmetry between Gruden and the Golden Dome, particularly with him coaching a game just 150 miles south of it. Not only is it fair to acknowledge but, likely to the chagrin of the Notre Dame athletic department, it is getting impossible to ignore.
Fox Sports mentioned Gruden and the Notre Dame possibility on a pre-game show. Theismann said he planned to discuss it Sunday night. Sports-radio hosts from here to Oakland have floated the possibility often enough to get on ESPN's radar. Meanwhile, Irish fans on the Internet have lusted after Gruden like teen-age boys after Anna Kournikova.
None of the rumors address how well a pro coach who last looked at a college transcript 12 years ago at the University of Pacific would fit into a Notre Dame culture immersed in academia.
Not many of the rumors address how many times the collection plate would have to be passed around Sacred Heart Basilica to pay the next football coach nearly twice as much as the last one, in the $2 million range.
Very few of the rumors address how Notre Dame would ever begin to pry Gruden out of the Vulcan-like grip of Raider owner Al Davis, to whom Gruden is under contract through the 2002 season.
Especially since Gruden feels indebted to Davis for making him a head coach at the age of 34. Especially since Davis feels attached to Gruden for inheriting a 4-12 team in '98 and going 8-8, 8-8, 12-4 and within a game of the Super Bowl since.
"I really think Jon has unfinished business here with the Raiders,'' Theismann said. "He's built this football team to a championship caliber football team and I'm not sure he would want to leave this ... That's only a question Jon can answer.''
"I don't want to speculate, not after this,'' Gruden said. "We're 4-1 and we're excited.''
At least we know that Gruden's not losing sleep over all the speculation.
You can't lose what you don't get.
Date: May 20, 2001
Posted on 3 June 2001:
Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please be seated.
Thank you, Father Malloy, and thank you all for that warm welcome, Chairman McArtin, Father Scully , Dr. Hatch, Notre Dame trustees, members of the class of 2001.
It is a high privilege to receive this degree. I'm particularly pleased that it bears the great name of Notre Dame. My brother, Jeb, may be the Catholic in the family, but between us, I'm the only Domer.
I have spoken on this campus before. It was in 1980, the year my dad ran for vice president with Ronald Reagan. I think I really won over the crowd that day.
In fact, I'm sure of it because all six of them walked me to my car.
That was back when Father Hesburg was the president of this university during a tenure that in many ways defined the reputation and values of Notre Dame. And it's a real honor to be here with Father Hesburg and with Father Joyce . Between them, these two good priests have given nearly a century of service to Notre Dame. I'm told that Father Hesburg now holds 146 honorary degrees.
That's pretty darn impressive, Father, but I'm gaining on you.
As of today, I'm only a 140 behind.
Let me congratulate all the members of the class of 2001.
You made it, and we're all proud of you on this big day.
I also congratulate the parents who after these years are happy, proud and broke.
I commend this fine faculty for the years of work and instruction that produced this outstanding class.
And I'm pleased to join my fellow honorees as well. I'm in incredibly distinguished company with authors, executives, educators, church officials and eminent scientists.
We're sharing a memorable day and a great honor, and I congratulate you all.
Notre Dame, as a Catholic university, carries forward a great tradition of social teaching. It calls on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic, to honor family, to protect life in all its stages, to serve and uplift the poor.
This university is more than a community of scholars. It is a community of conscience and an ideal place to report on our nation's commitment to the poor and how we're keeping it.
In 1964, the year I started college, another president from Texas delivered a commencement address talking about this national commitment. In that speech, President Lyndon Johnson issued a challenge. He said: This is a time for decision. You are the generation which must decide. Will you decide to leave the future a society where a man is condemned to hopelessness because he was born poor? Or will you join to wipe out poverty in this land?
In that speech, Lyndon Johnson advocated a war on poverty which had noble intentions and some enduring successes. Poor families got basic health care. Disadvantaged children were given a head start in life.
Yet, there were also some consequences that no one wanted or intended. The welfare entitlement became an enemy of personal effort and responsibility, turning many recipients into dependents.
The war on poverty also turned too many citizens into bystanders convinced that compassion had become the work of government alone.
In 1996, welfare reform confronted the first of these problems with a five-year time limit on benefits and a work requirement to receive them. Instead of a way of life, welfare became an offer of temporary help, not an entitlement but a transition. Thanks in large part to this change, welfare rolls have been cut in half. Work and self respect have been returned to many lives. This is a tribute to Democrats and Republicans who agreed on reform and to the president who signed it, President Bill Clinton.
Our nation has confronted welfare dependency, but our work is only half done. Now we must confront the second problem -- to revive the spirit of citizenship, to marshal the compassion of our people to meet the continuing needs of our nation. This is a challenge to my administration and each one of you.
We must meet that challenge because it is right and because it is urgent.
Welfare as we knew it has ended but poverty has not. When over 12 million children live below the poverty line, we are not a post-poverty America. Most states are seeing the first wave of welfare recipients who have reached the law's five-year time limit. The easy cases have already left the welfare roles.
The hardest problems remain: People with far fewer skills and greater barriers to work. People with complex human problems like illiteracy and addiction, abuse and mental illness. We do not yet know what will happen to these men and women or to their children. But we cannot sit and watch, leaving them to their own struggles and their own fate.
This is a great deal at stake. In our attitudes and our actions we are determining the character of our country. When poverty is considered hopeless, America is condemned to permanent social division, becoming a nation of caste and class, divided by fences and gates and guards.
Our task is clear, and it's difficult. We must build our country's unity by extending our country's blessings. We make that commitment because we're Americans. Aspiration is the essence of our country. We believe in social mobility, not social Darwinism. We are the country of the second chance where failure is never final. And that dream has sometimes been deferred. It must never be abandoned.
The hope we seek is found in safe havens for battered women and children in homeless shelters and crisis pregnancy centers, in programs that tutor and conduct job training and help young people who may happen to be on parole.
All these efforts provide not just the benefit but attention and kindness, a touch of courtesy, a dose of grace.
Mother Teresa said that what the poor often need, even more than shelter and food, though these are desperately needed as well, is to be wanted. And that sense of belonging is within the power of each of us to provide.
Many in this community have shown what compassion can accomplish. Notre Dame's own Lou Nanni is the former director of South Bend Center for the Homeless, an institution founded by two Notre Dame professors. It provides guests with everything from drug treatment to mental health services to classes in the great books to preschool for young children.
Discipline is tough. Faith is encouraged, not required. Student volunteers are committed and consistent and central to its mission.
Lou Nanni describes its mission as repairing the fabric of society by letting people see the inherent worth and dignity and God-given potential of every human being.
Compassion often works best on a small and human scale. It is generally better when a call for help is local, not long distance. Here at this university you've heard that call and responded. It is part of what makes Notre Dame a great university.
This is my message today. There is no great society which is not a caring society, and any effective war on poverty must deploy what Dorothy Day called the weapons of spirit. There's only one problem with groups like South Bend Center for the Homeless: They're aren't enough of them.
It's not sufficient to praise charities and community groups. We must support them, and this is both a public obligation and a personal responsibility.
The war on poverty established a federal commitment to the poor. The welfare reform legislation of 1996 made that commitment more effective. For the task ahead, we must move to the third stage of combating poverty in America. Our society must enlist, equip and empower idealistic Americans in the works of compassion that only they can provide.
Government has an important role. We will never be replaced by charities. My administration increases funding for major social welfare and poverty programs by 8 percent. Yet government must also do more to take the side of charities and community healers and support their work.
We've had enough of the stale debate between big government and indifferent government.
Government must be active enough to fund services for the poor and humble enough to let good people in local communities provide those services.
So, I've created a White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Through that office we are working to ensure that local community helpers and healers receive more federal dollars, greater private support and face fewer bureaucratic barriers. We have proposed a compassion capital fund that will match private giving with federal dollars.
We have proposed allowing all taxpayers to deduct their charitable contributions, including non-itemizers.
This could encourage almost $15 billion a year in new charitable giving.
My attitude is, everyone in America, whether they are well off or not, should have the same incentive and reward for giving.
And we're in the process of implementing and expanding charitable choice, the principle already established in federal law that faith-based organizations should not suffer discrimination when they compete for contracts to provide social services.
Government should never fund the teaching of faith, but it should support the good works of the faithful.
Some critics of this approach object to the idea of government funding going to any group motivated by faith. But they should take a look around them. Public money already goes to groups like The Center for the Homeless and, on a larger scale, to Catholic Charities. Do the critics really want to cut them off? Medicaid and Medicare money currently goes to religious hospitals. Should this practice be ended? Child care vouchers for low-income families are redeemed every day at houses of worship across America. Should this be prevented? Government loans send countless students to religious colleges. Should this be banned? Of course not.
America has a long tradition of accommodating and encouraging religious institutions when they pursue public goals.
My administration did not create that tradition, but we will expand it to confront some urgent problems.
Today I'm adding two initiatives to our agenda in the areas of housing and drug treatment. Owning a home is a source of dignity for families and stability for communities. And organizations like Habitat for Humanity make that dream possible for many low-income Americans.
Groups of this type currently receive some funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The budget I submit to Congress next year will propose a three-fold increase in this funding, which will expand home ownership and the hope and pride that come with it.
And nothing is more likely to perpetuate poverty than a life enslaved to drugs. So we propose $1.6 billion in new funds to close what I call the treatment gap -- the gap between the 5 million Americans who need drug treatment and the 2 million who currently receive it.
We will also propose that all these funds, all of them, be open to equal competition from faith-based and community groups.
The federal government should do all these things, but others have responsibilities as well, including corporate America. Many corporations in America do good work and good causes, but if we hope to substantially reduce poverty and suffering in our country, corporate America needs to give more and to give better.
Faith-based organizations receive only a tiny percentage of overall corporate giving. Currently six of the 10 largest corporate givers in America explicitly rule out or restrict donations to faith-based groups regardless of their effectiveness.
The federal government will not discriminate against faith-based organizations and neither should corporate America.
In the same spirit, I hope America's foundations consider ways they may devote more of their money to our nation's neighborhoods and their helpers and their healers. I will convene a summit this fall asking corporate and philanthropic leaders throughout America to join me at the White House to discuss ways they can provide more support to community organizations, both secular and religious.
Ultimately, your country is counting on each of you. Knute Rockne once said, "I have found that prayers work best when you have big players."
We can pray for the justice of our country, but you're the big players we need to achieve it. Government can promote compassion. Corporations and foundations can fund it, but the citizens -- it's the citizens who provide it.
A determined assault on poverty will require both an active government and active citizens. There's more to citizenship than voting, though I urge you to do it. There's more to citizenship than paying your taxes, though I'd strongly advise you pay them.
Citizenship is empty without concern for our fellow citizens, without the ties that bind us to one another and build a common good. If you already realize this and you're acting on it, I thank you.
If you haven't thought about it, I leave you with this challenge: Serve a neighbor in need, because a life of service is a life of significance.
Because materialism ultimately is boring, and consumerism can build a prison of loss. Because a person who is not responsible for others is a person who is truly alone. Because there are few better ways to express our love for America than to care for other Americans. And because the same God who endows us with individual rights also calls us to social obligations.
So let me return to Lyndon Johnson's charge: You're the generation that must decide. Will you ratify poverty and division with your apathy? Or will you build a common good with your idealism? Will you be a spectator in the renewal of your country, or a citizen?
The methods of the past may have been flawed, but the idealism of the past was not an illusion. Your calling is not easy, because you must do the acting and the caring. But there is fulfillment in that sacrifice which creates hope for the rest of us. Every life you help proves that every life might be helped. The actual proves the possible, and hope is always the beginning of change.
Thank you for having me, and God bless.
Posted on 3 June 2001:
President George W. Bush came to the nation's best-known Catholic university Sunday with this message:
Government and corporations, too, should encourage rather than shun religious-based efforts to help the poor and the troubled.
"Government should never fund the teaching of faith," said Bush, "but it should support the good works of the faithful."
Bush, delivering the commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, was the fifth U.S. president to do so.
The more than 2,500 graduates and their parents and friends in the packed Joyce Center responded with cameras flashing and frequent applause.
He was following in his father's footsteps, and the footsteps were easier.
The first President Bush, in delivering the commencement speech nine years ago, was criticized by the valedictorian and came to the ceremony amid controversy over the pro-choice views of the Laetare Medal recipient. No such distractions occurred Sunday.
Virtually everybody was standing, applauding as the president was introduced and when he finished.
Not quite everybody.
One graduate, back to the president, knelt in the center aisle, saying the rosary throughout the president's 22-minute speech. And about 150 people protested outside, some objecting to the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives the president was plugging.
Inside, there was applause for his mention of creating that office and his call for corporate America to join in helping faith-based organizations.
Most corporations don't help such groups, he said, adding that six of the 10 largest corporate givers "explicitly rule out or restrict donations to faith-based groups," no matter how effective.
"The federal government will not discriminate against faith-based organizations, and neither should corporate America," Bush said.
The president cited South Bend's Center for the Homeless and Catholic Charities as examples of private organizations that receive public funds and deserve it.
"Do critics really want to cut them off?" Bush asked.
"Government loans send countless students to religious colleges," Bush said. "Should that be banned? Of course not."
The remark drew applause from students and their parents, many quite familiar with the help of loans for attendance at Notre Dame.
The Republican president steered a basically bipartisan course, even including words of praise for Democratic Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton for their efforts to help the poor.
Bush clearly was intent on avoiding criticism that he had delivered a political speech.
No doubt also, Bush was seeking to make a good impression on Catholic voters, many of whom will follow accounts of his Notre Dame address.
He didn't do as well with Catholic voters as with many other groups in the 2000 election. And his controversial campaign speech at Bob Jones University, an institution with officials associated with anti-Catholic views, rankled many Catholics.
In his favorable references to Democratic presidents, Bush noted that Johnson in 1964 declared a war on poverty, "which had noble intentions and some enduring successes."
Unfortunately, he continued, there also were "consequences that no one wanted or intended," especially dependence on welfare.
Welfare reform approved in 1996 then trimmed the welfare rolls in half, Bush said. He called that a tribute to both political parties and "to the president who signed it, President Bill Clinton." That remark also drew applause.
"But our work is only half done," Bush added. "Welfare as we knew it has ended, but poverty has not."
He said "the easy cases have already left the welfare rolls." The hard-core unemployed remain, he said, referring to "people with complex human problems, like illiteracy and addiction, abuse and mental illness."
They should not be left behind, Bush said.
Seeking to refute contentions that he is indeed neglecting the less fortunate in his tax and budget priorities, Bush said he is seeking an 8 percent hike for major social welfare and poverty programs.
He also cited his support of expanded tax breaks for contributions to charitable groups helping the poor.
Bush announced plans to convene a White House summit this fall to bring corporate and philanthropic leaders together to discuss ways to support community organizations, religious as well as secular.
He promised to submit a budget next year with a threefold increase -- from $25 million for 2002 to $75 million for 2003 -- for low-income housing efforts of such groups as Habitat for Humanity.
And he pledged support to help close what he called "the treatment gap" on drug addictions. He said 5 million Americans "enslaved to drugs" need treatment, but only 2 million now receive it.
Yes, the president had some quips before getting into his serious message.
He said he had spoken on campus once before, in 1980, when his father was the Republican vice presidential nominee and that he had won over the crowd -- "all six of them."
The president, who received an honorary Notre Dame degree, noted that Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former Notre Dame president, now holds 146 honorary degrees.
"That's pretty darn impressive, Father, but I'm gaining on you," Bush quipped. "As of today, I'm only 140 behind."
Citing the Catholicism of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, his brother, the president, observed: "Jeb may be the only Catholic in the family, but between us, I'm the only Domer."
Notre Dame was picked by Bush for his first commencement speech as president. He left on Air Force One after the speech for Yale University, his alma mater, where he is to speak and receive an honorary degree today. He will speak Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement, in Annapolis Md.
First lady's impact
In conjunction with the president's appearance, Notre Dame established a scholarship in the name of first lady Laura Bush.
Before his address Sunday, Bush and his wife attended a private ceremony in honor of Jorge Andres Muruaga, a fifth-grade student at St. Mary of Carmel School in West Dallas, Texas, who is the first recipient of a Laura Bush Scholarship at Notre Dame.
Posted on 3 June 2001:
SOUTH BEND -- The "W" stands for "wrong" to those who marched and protested at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon.
President Bush's appearance at the commencement exercises at Notre Dame generated a lively protest from those who consider him wrong on a broad range of issues: wrong on the environment, wrong on labor rights, wrong on the death penalty, wrong on tax breaks for the wealthy, wrong on nuclear power and wrong on the militarization of space just for starters.
But to Notre Dame graduates Joe Napolitano and Tom Ogorzalek, the appearance of America's most famous "W" or "Dubya" at their graduation ceremonies could not have been more wrong for a Roman Catholic Church-affiliated university like Notre Dame.
"After spending four years at an institution that teaches Catholic values, for Notre Dame to turn around and bring President Bush here is in contradiction ... of those values," said Napolitano, a graduating senior from Tampa, Fla., with bachelor's degrees in English and philosophy.
Ogorzalek, a senior from Chicago graduating with a bachelor's degree in government, believes the Notre Dame administration invited the president solely for the purpose of image and prestige.
"The urge to touch Caesar's hem" was Notre Dame government professor Peter Walshe's description of Notre Dame's invitation to Bush for the event.
Hundreds of Notre Dame faculty, staff, students and alumni objected to the Bush appearance in a petition that gathered momentum over the past three weeks.
"We referred to his huge tax refund for the rich, his reduction in programs that provide health care access for the uninsured, his abandonment of the environment to the predatory drive for corporate profits, and his revived version of the Strategic Defense Initiative," Walshe said.
Walshe's comments came in his speech to a crowd of about 150 gathered across Juniper Road from the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, where the president delivered his speech.
"Commencement is a time to celebrate the values of our university," Walshe said. "This is something George W. Bush is incapable of doing."
English professor Valerie Sayers led the crowd in the chant "the Catholic vote is not for sale."
"I am one of those Catholic faculty members who came to Notre Dame believing that this university should stand up for the poor, and the weak, and the struggling and for the least among us," she said.
"A Catholic university does not have to invite the president of the United States when it knows that the president ... is giving voice to the powerful and the wealthy at the expense of the poor and the vulnerable."
To others like Rene Trilling, the 152 executions of criminals in Texas while Bush was governor was an affront to the "compassionate conservatism" theme that Bush campaigned on during last year's presidential election.
"King George. Prince of the Rich; Executioner of the Poor," read one sign in the crowd.
Trilling, a graduate student in the English department at Notre Dame, and her husband, James Hansen, a post-doctoral member in the department, were part of a long line of protesters who gathered before noon at Leeper Park to march to the university campus.
The march to Notre Dame drew anti-Bush people from Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.
Global warming and the Bush administration's tepid response to serious carbon dioxide cutbacks in the United States is the reason why Elizabeth Forest, 33, who came from Kalamazoo for the protest.
"I have children. I have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, and in 50 years I hope to be a grandmother. The way things are going right now, that is not going to happen," she said.
"The emissions and the toxins that we are putting into our environment are affecting our genetic capabilities to reproduce."
Elizabeth Piedmont and Peter Drake were among a contingent of environmentalists who got up early Sunday in Bloomington to trek to Notre Dame to say their piece against Bush environmental policies.
"Bush has pretty much ignored the catastrophic issue of global warming," Drake said.
"If we don't make drastic changes in our lifestyle, we could render the world unable to support life in the manner that we know.
"This is what the mainstream scientific community is saying will happen in our lifetime," he said.
Chicagoan Joann Wright joined the mile-long march carrying the sigh "Bush Loves America, But Hates Americans."
"That means he likes the idea of America and corporate profits, but he doesn't like the people," she explained. "Look at his policies so far. He has only been in office a little over 100 days. He is trying to destroy our water, poison our food and poison our environment."
The long procession reached Edison Road and Eddy Street on the outskirts of the Notre Dame campus, where the American atheists started picketing an hour before noon.
Mike Suetkamp, Indiana State Director for American Atheists of Elkhart County, said Bush's faith-based funding initiatives to fund social programs is in violation of the constitutional directive to keep church and state separate and is tantamount to public funding of religion.
Nuclear power opponents who decried Bush's call for a new generation of nuclear power plants reminded that America is already in a crisis created by the disposal of spent radioactive material from the old generation of plants. Steelworkers used the occasion to draw attention to the loss of steelworker jobs in America to free trade and globalization.
But should Bush have been invited at all, Walshe asked.
"At the very least, the university should have waited to see if the Bush presidency would unfold as one of compassionate conservatism," Walshe said.
"The unseemly haste calls into question the judgment of Notre Dame's president and his advisers, suggesting that they succumbed to the lobbying of wealthy, corporate alumni on whom they are dependent in an obsessive drive to increase the university's already vast endowment."
Posted on 3 June 2001:
SOUTH BEND -- Residents hoping to catch a glimpse of President Bush when he visits South Bend on Sunday may have luck only at a distance.
"It's going to be very difficult to get any kind of close-up view at all," South Bend Regional Airport Director John Schaillol said.
The president is expected to arrive in South Bend about 11 a.m. Sunday, when Air Force One touches down at the airport.
A view of the presidential jet landing might be best from the north side of the airport, across the runway from the airport terminal building, Schaillol said.
Bush then will travel by motorcade to the University of Notre Dame, where he will be the principal speaker at the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony.
Among those expected to accompany the president here are first lady Laura Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, a 1975 Notre Dame graduate. Rice gave the commencement address at Notre Dame in 1995.
Prior to the ceremony, Bush is expected as the guest of honor at a private lunch for 350 guests hosted by the Rev. Edward A. Malloy, university president.
More than 2,500 students will receive degrees Sunday.
Tickets to the ceremony are a hot item every year, and even more so this year because the president will be speaking. Each graduate receives three tickets for friends or family.
Only graduates and guests with tickets will be admitted to the Joyce Center. They are to enter through Gate 10. The doors open at noon.
Guests will be required to pass through metal detectors, so they are asked to plan for extra time to gain entry.
Juniper Road between Edison and Bulla roads will be closed to traffic from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Visitors are requested to park in the lots south of the Joyce Center and Notre Dame Stadium.
Bush will return to the South Bend airport about 4:45 p.m., with Air Force One departing around 5 p.m.
From South Bend, the president is scheduled to fly to New Haven, Conn., On Monday morning, Bush will receive an honorary degree and speak to the graduating class at Yale University, his alma mater.
Bush will present one more commencement address this year -- on Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
It's been nine years since a president in office visited South Bend. That's when the first President Bush, the current president's father, visited Notre Dame to present the 1992 commencement address.
Secret Service officers and a White House advance team have been in town this week arranging security.
Also part of Sunday's events will be a private ceremony preceding commencement exercises to honor Jorge Andres Muruaga, the first recipient of the Laura Bush Scholarship.
Notre Dame is establishing the scholarship in the name of the first lady, the university announced Friday.
The scholarship will be awarded annually to an elementary or secondary school student enrolled in a Catholic school in Texas. Recipients will be chosen from Texas schools served by the teachers of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education and will receive a full year's tuition.
President and Mrs. Bush will attend the scholarship ceremony, along with Jorge, his family and ACE teachers from the Saint Mary of Carmel School in Dallas, where Jorge is a fifth-grade student.
ACE is a service program that allows college graduates to serve as full-time teachers in understaffed Catholic schools across the United States.
WSBT-TV and WNDU-TV both plan to broadcast live from the airport and from the Joyce Center during the commencement ceremony.
Locally, AT&T Broadband will broadcast the commencement exercises on cable channel 3 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
For guests on campus without tickets to the ceremony, the university will provide a live closed-circuit broadcast of the commencement in DeBartolo Hall auditorium, Jordan Auditorium in the Mendoza College of Business and McKenna Hall auditorium. Doors to these closed-circuit sites will open at noon Sunday.
Posted on 3 June 2001:
SOUTH BEND -- The first President Bush delivered the Notre Dame commencement speech nine years ago, stressing family values.
He wasn't talking about the value for his family of having a son some day become the second President Bush to speak to ND graduates.
But some day is today.
Son follows father.
President George W. Bush delivers the commencement speech today.
He will seek as his father did -- as all presidents do in their commencement speeches -- to deliver a serious message to graduates and the nation, avoiding for the most part the type of partisan rhetoric that could bring accusations of turning diploma day into a political rally.
Bush will be the seventh U.S. president to receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame while serving in the White House and the fifth president to be the commencement speaker.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered the first presidential commencement speech at Notre Dame in 1960, interrupting the 45th reunion of his U.S. Military Academy class to do so.
Ike stressed a governmental philosophy that "assures the security and general welfare of the nation" but doesn't intrude unnecessarily on individual rights and freedom. He called for embracing the philosophy of Lincoln, "who insisted that government should do, and do only, the things which people cannot well do for themselves."
President Jimmy Carter delivered a major foreign policy address as 1977 commencement speaker.
Carter spoke of a diminishing threat from the Soviet Union, an upbeat assessment doubted by many at the time but later deemed prophetic.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan delivered the commencement address, making his first public appearance after he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt.
Reagan, known at Notre Dame long before he entered politics as a result of his portrayal of "the Gipper" in the film "Knute Rockne, All-American," had some football quips but also a serious message. He called for ending excessive government intervention. And Reagan predicted, also in prophetic way: "The West will not contain communism, it will transcend communism. We'll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written."
The first President Bush spoke at the commencement on May 17, 1992, calling the American family "an institution under siege."
Said Bush: "Whatever form our most pressing problems may take, ultimately, all are related to the disintegration of the family."
He cited the role of family breakdown in rising violence, unwed teen pregnancy, education problems and concerns about the nation's character and culture.
"Unless we successfully reverse the breakdown of the American family, our nation is going to remain at risk," Bush warned.
Although there were the expected small protest groups outside the Joyce Center in 1992, Bush was applauded warmly by the ND graduates and their families and guests inside.
Some of the loudest applause came when the president attributed a quote to "that fantastic philosopher, Barbara Bush." The quote: "What you teach at your house is more important than what happens at the White House."
Criticism of Bush came, however, in remarks at the commencement by valedictorian Sarah J. McGrath.
She criticized Bush administration environmental policies and failure to bring Americans together.
McGrath won frequent applause but was booed when she said voices of the gay community are not listened to.
Bush, sitting there listening, smiled but did not respond when he spoke.
Two other presidents received honorary degrees while in office at times other than the spring commencement: Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and Gerald R. Ford in 1975. And John F. Kennedy received an honorary degree in 1950, while still a congressman.
Kennedy, the nation's only Catholic president, didn't visit Notre Dame, the nation's best-known Catholic university, during his presidency, which was cut short by assassination.
Kennedy did, however, deliver the winter commencement address and receive an honorary degree in 1950. In 1961, he received the university's prestigious Laetare Medal in a White House ceremony.
Posted on 3 June 2001:
SOUTH BEND -- "It got us in the mix early," U.S. Rep. Tim Roemer said of the invitation from the University of Notre Dame that he hand-delivered before Christmas to George W. Bush.
Bush, president-elect then, was later as president to accept the invitation to be the commencement speaker today at Notre Dame.
Since Notre Dame officials knew that the White House would be deluged with invitations to the president to be a commencement speaker at colleges and universities hither and yon, they decided to get their invitation to Bush's attention before he even got to the White House.
The opportunity came when Roemer was among members of Congress asked by Bush to discuss prospects for education reform at a Dec. 21 meeting at the governor's mansion in Austin.
Roemer is a Notre Dame graduate. So he was anxious to help. It didn't matter to the South Bend Democrat that he was inviting a Republican president. He wasn't inviting Bush for a political speech but for a commencement speech, a chance for graduates to hear from the president in remarks that are expected, by commencement tradition, to avoid blatant partisan rhetoric.
Roemer said he urged Bush to accept and gave the formal letter of invitation to the president-elect's chief of staff.
"I told him it would be a great opportunity," Roemer said. He pointed out that a commencement speech at Notre Dame, the nation's best-known Catholic university, receives widespread news coverage that affords, in effect, a chance to deliver a message nationwide that could be of particular interest to Catholics.
Bush didn't do as well with Catholic voters as with some other groups in his close presidential race. And some Catholics had been disturbed by the controversial Bush campaign visit to Bob Jones University.
"Another key was being persistent," Roemer said. The congressman said the effort involved many follow-up efforts, including a letter from Notre Dame graduates serving in Congress, including three from Indiana: Roemer and U.S. Reps. Peter J. Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and Mark Souder, R-Fort Wayne.
Bush accepted. That was reported March 20 in The Tribune. But Notre Dame couldn't officially confirm it then because the White House wasn't ready for the announcement.
A president's schedule is announced by the White House when the White House is ready. The official announcement came on April 17, freeing the university to confirm the Bush visit and announce all of its honorary degree recipients.
But long before that, Notre Dame knew it had its speaker. No need to worry that with all those other invitations from hither and yon that the president would instead be speaking today at Hither College or Yon University.
Posted on 3 June 2001:
When George W. Bush met his future wife, Laura, at a Texas barbecue in 1977, the two hit it off immediately.
They were married three months later.
"It was just -- shazam! It was a neat fit," said Joe O'Neill, a 1967 University of Notre Dame graduate.
It was O'Neill and his wife, Jan, who invited Bush to their Midland, Texas, home 24 years ago to meet Laura Welch.
The O'Neills will be in South Bend this weekend when President Bush presents the 2001 Notre Dame commencement address. Laura Bush is expected to accompany her husband.
O'Neill and Bush have been friends since both were about five years old. They grew up in the same Midland neighborhood, although Bush later moved away.
The future president was back living in Midland in 1977, when the O'Neills invited him to dinner. Laura, then an elementary school librarian in Austin, was in town visiting her parents.
The barbecue wasn't a large, splashy, Texas shindig.
"It was just the four of us. We cooked hamburgers out on the grill," O'Neill recalled in a distinctive Texas drawl during a telephone interview from his Midland office.
The future president "was smitten," O'Neill said.
Even in those days, Bush was known as an early-to-bed-early-to-rise man. "Normally he went to bed by 9:30, but that night he stayed until 12:30 to talk to her," O'Neill said. "He didn't want to leave."
The next day, Bush took Laura miniature golfing. He went to Austin to visit her shortly thereafter.
Three months later, they were married -- in November 1977.
"She was just about the neatest
lady he was going to find. He didn't waste any time. It's made such a difference in his life," O'Neill said.
O'Neill said he and his wife weren't expecting to pair the couple off for life. Bush and Laura were each among a circle of the O'Neills' friends, and they thought the two should know each other.
Bush is known as a gregarious sort who loves to work a room and chat with a crowd. Laura, on the other hand, is quiet and intensely private, although known as a good conversationalist.
During childhood, Bush attended the local Midland public school, while O'Neill went to Catholic school. The two boys hung around with the same group of neighborhood friends and played on a Little League baseball team together.
Bush and Laura Welch actually attended the same Midland middle school in seventh grade, but neither remembers knowing the other very well. Then Bush moved away.
O'Neill's future wife, Jan, arrived in town in ninth grade and was a friend of Laura's during high school. The two women remained close friends through college and afterward.
Jan and Laura later shared an apartment in Houston, where they lived for a time in the same apartment complex as Bush, who was then a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. However, the future first couple didn't meet during that time.
O'Neill is managing partner of O'Neill Properties Ltd., his family's oil and investment business. His late father, also named Joseph O'Neill, graduated from Notre Dame in 1937 and played on the Fighting Irish football team.
O'Neill Hall, a residence hall at Notre Dame, was underwritten by the family.
The couple's daughter, Catherine O'Neill, just finished her junior year at Notre Dame. She's a bit disappointed that the president is speaking at this year's commencement, rather than next year to her graduating class, her father said.
The O'Neills and Bushes have kept in touch over the years, during the time when Bush was managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team and his years as governor of Texas.
Joe and Jan O'Neill attended the presidential inauguration, then returned to Washington last weekend to visit the Bushes at the White House.
They stayed overnight at the presidential mansion, then traveled with the first couple to Camp David. Other guests at the presidential retreat last weekend were National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, a Notre Dame graduate, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
O'Neill said Bush hasn't changed much over the years. He's always been punctual, outgoing and energetic, characteristics he continues to display as president, his friend said.
"Marrying Laura in three months is a perfect example," O'Neill said. "He makes good decisions quick."
Posted on 6 May 2001:
It's been over three weeks since the women's basketball team won its first national championship but the celebration continues. On Monday, President George W. Bush honored the Irish at the White House. President Bush also addressed the men's basketball national champions, Duke University, at the morning ceremony.
"I was looking at some of the footage I taped when we were there," freshman guard Jeneka Joyce said on Monday night. "It's amazing that we were in the Oval Office. A lot of people never have that opportunity."
Coach Muffet McGraw presented a gold Notre Dame uniform to Bush, with "G.W.Bush 1" emblazoned across the back. Moments before, the president addressed both teams and offered some humorous anecdotes. "I'm reminded about what Coach McGraw's son, [10-year old] Murphy, said as he watched the [national title] game," Bush said. "He said, `That was scary.' Murphy, I know what you're talking about. It reminds me of election night."
Bush then alluded to the oft-repeated portrayal of the Irish as an unselfish, mature, virtually problem-free squad.
"I love what Coach McGraw said," Bush said. "She said, `Usually there are negative things that occur during the season. But this year I've had not to call a single team meeting. I've gotten no complaints from professors. We can't even yell at the players, because they do everything we ask.' I need your help with Congress."
Most of the Notre Dame contingent, which included athletic department officials, team managers and coaches, arrived in Washington on Sunday morning. A few players, including recent WNBA draft choices Ruth Riley, Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon traveled to the nation's capital early Sunday evening.
On Sunday afternoon, the Irish toured several of the District's landmarks, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The next morning, the Irish and Blue Devils arrived at the White House and were surrounded by several members of the Secret Service.
"You did notice them, with their black sunglasses," Joyce said. "I saw them everywhere. But the whole environment was so relaxed. Everything seemed so ordinary."
During his speech, the President singled out Riley and Duke's Shane Battier, the national players of the year. Both Riley and Battier were also named Academic All-Americans. Riley, Battier, and their teammates toured the White House after the ceremony.
"I want to remind people who may not know their histories that not only were [Riley and Battier] great players, they're great people," Bush said. "Not only did they set goals about being the best on the basketball court, they set goals of becoming all-academic stars, and they were. They set goals of understanding the Golden Rule, and living by it. These are good people. And I'm sure your teammates are, as well. But they set the kind of example that America needs."
Riley and the rest of the seniors will have a chance to see the President again in a few weeks. Bush will address the class of 2001 at the May 20th graduation ceremonies.
"Everybody's joking that when he comes out here, we'll all know him, give him hugs and high fives," senior Kelley Siemon said.
"There's no way this year could have been better," Joyce said. "No way."
Funny excerpts from Bush's meeting with the men's national champs the morning before the ladies arrived:
*"The reason I call him Coach K is because sometimes I have trouble pronouncing long words," Bush chuckled.
*Krzyzewski had a bit of trouble himself. Handing Bush a No. 1 Duke jersey, the coach suggested they should have thought to give him "41" instead.
"Forty-three," Bush corrected him, referring to a Bush family nickname for the son of the 41st president. "Forty-one's the other guy."
Posted on 29 April 2001:
During his 45-minute speech at the College Football Hall of Fame's Gridiron Legends Luncheon Series, former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz had several classic lines. Here are a few of them:
On the speed of South Carolina tailback Ryan Brewer, the MVP from the Outback Bowl win over Ohio State: "If he got in a race with a pregnant lady, he'd finish third.''
On his short-lived career as a TV analyst: "On TV, you talk until you have something to say.''
While accompanying Tim Brown to the Heisman Trophy announcement after the 1987 season, Holtz was asked if he ever dreamed of winning the Heisman: "I said, 'Yes, for three reasons. First, I'd be the first player from Kent State in Ohio to win it; I'd be the first defensive player to ever win it; and I'd be the first third-teamer to ever win it.''
About his final resting place: "I will be buried here at Notre Dame, that's factual. It's only appropriate because the alums buried me every Saturday.''
On kicker Craig Hentrich complaining Holtz only took one kicker and three priests on road games: "I told him, 'If you were a better kicker, we'd only need one priest.''
Addressing the media that covered him in '96: "It's nice to see you all again. I can't believe some of you have kept your job.''
On trying not to make life too complicated: "In high school, I was taking a math test and didn't know any of the answers so, naturally, I started looking around. The teacher said, 'Lou Holtz, don't you dare cheat. I'll take 10 percent off.' Heck, 90 percent, I'll take that. I took my book out.''
On passing 354 times last year compared to 351 runs on offense: "When I was here, I wouldn't even have a passing gear in my car.''
Posted on 29 April 2001:
SOUTH BEND -- When Lou Holtz stopped dreaming, he started losing the edge that made him one of the legendary coaches in Notre Dame football history.
Thursday, Holtz said it was the one regret he carries through life.
Still a popular draw in the area though he hasn't paced the Notre Dame sidelines since 1996, Holtz drew a sellout crowd of more than 1,300 at the Century Center.
He was the featured speaker for the College Football Hall of Fame's Gridiron Legends Luncheon Series, sponsored by Keybank.
The genuine passion that dripped from his words when talking about life and Notre Dame picked up right where he left off after a tearful goodbye in the wake of the Rutgers home finale in '96.
He dredged up the same old lines that amused and entertained during his 11 years in South Bend, and still was a hit with the crowd that was starved for the comfortable feeling that comes with his distinctive lisp and uncanny delivery.
Holtz gave his warnings. He talked about the importance of attitude to a football team, a company or a personal relationship. He spoke of trust and commitment. And he also talked about what happens when someone stops dreaming.
"For 10 straight years we tried to maintain,'' Holtz said. "The worst record we had was (6-5-1 in 1994). I regret it. I regret that we took that (Notre Dame) program to the top. For nine straight years, we went to a Jan. 1 bowl game. It was the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life.
"Any time you try to maintain something, you become the hunted. I thought I was tired of coaching (when he left Notre Dame), I wasn't. I was tired of maintaining. In this world, you're either going to get better or you're going to get worse. You reach a level in your life when you get comfortable and you say, 'Boy, this is pretty nice. Let's just stay where we are.'
"What I should have done was set dreams and goals and ambitions for this university and the football program that nobody thought was possible. As long as you have a dream, you have a million thoughts and ideas and you have enthusiasm and excitement. When you try to maintain something, you lose your enthusiasm and any originality. You never have a reason to celebrate.''
Holtz celebrated in 1988, Notre Dame's last football national championship. The title not only changed expectations, but it also changed his life.
"(Elkhart businessman) Art Decio said something to me that was really interesting,'' Holtz said. "With Ara (Parseghian) and with me, sometimes you just need a sabbatical after (Notre Dame). Notre Dame's a different job than any place you've been. It's a different job after you win the national championship.
"I look back and say, 'Hey, my leaving was the best thing for Notre Dame and probably the best thing for me at the time.' But it's always hard to give up something you love so much.''
They celebrate a lot at South Carolina now. After an 0-11 start that included the nation's longest losing streak, the Gamecocks improved to 8-4 last year and claimed an Outback Bowl victory over Ohio State, far beyond anyone's wildest dreams -- except Holtz.
In his self-deprecating style, Holtz talked about a South Carolina program that at one time would bring down the goalposts after a first down.
"I didn't go to South Carolina to prove anything,'' he said. "I went there to do something with my life. I had the dream of the ultimate goal, not for me but for (the South Carolina players).''
Holtz is quick to catch himself and add, "I don't know if I've done anything as gratifying as (having success at South Carolina).''
It's something of which dreams are made.
Posted on 22 April 2001:
Seventy years ago last Saturday, a small plane plummeted through the night clouds hanging over Kansas, spinning end over end. One wing had fallen off, and a trail of smoke followed the plane through the sky. It continued its dive until it plunged into the ground, instantly killing all eight passengers aboard.
One of them was Knute Rockne.
News of the legendary Notre Dame football coach's death rocked the world. His funeral was broadcast over the radio in Europe and Asia. The king of Norway even knighted Rockne posthumously. Studebaker immediately halted production of the Rockne Sedan Six 65 automobile when news of the tragedy hit newspapers across the America.
The man had died. The legend was just beginning to live.
Rockne was already a hero in American culture before his plane crashed. He was a few months off leading the Notre Dame football team to the 1930 national championship. When he died at the age of 43, he was on his way to Hollywood to negotiate a deal about a film documentary.
"In my opinion he was what you would call a straight, honest man and he liked to win football games," said 83-year-old Easter Heathman, one of only three people alive today who saw the mangled wreckage of Rockne's plane in person.
Saying Rockne liked to win football games is like saying Father Hesburgh was a decent University president. In Rockne's 12 years as the head coach, he posted a 105-12-5. His 88 percent winning percentage, impressive in the 1930s, is considered untouchable by most of today's Division I coaches.
In the 1920s, an era when sports were just beginning to become a part of mainstream American culture, Rockne and Notre Dame defined sports. He coached the Four Horsemen and gave the famous "Win one for the Gipper" speech. He started the Bengal Bouts boxing program as a way to keep his players in shape.
He was a renowned track and field coach. Rockne didn't just embody the spirit of Notre Dame - he created it.
Heathman was a mere teenager when he and his uncle arrived at the crash site. What he saw would change his life forever.
"I went to Notre Dame last year and arranged a meeting with Father Theodore Hesburgh," he said. "In our conversation I said, `Father, it's amazing how this has enriched my life.' "
Heathman dedicated the rest of his life to preserving a monument on the spot where the plane crashed. He unselfishly led historians, tourists, fans, and countless others from his modest house through the Kansas woods to the simple, 10-foot obelisk.
"It's given him a reason to be," said Heathman's friend David Kil, Notre Dame's assistant registrar. "People start stopping by and he takes them up there. If they offer him money, he won't take it. If they insist, he'll use it to put a new wreath out. He is an ambassador who is an unsung hero."
Heathman is a folk legend to Notre Dame fans, and the monument he protects has been a gathering place for die-hard football fans.
Sometimes, visitors will travel to Heathman's farm merely to talk to the spirit of Rockne. They'll talk about what Rockne means to them, what he means to Notre Dame, and the incredible tradition he started.
Last year, on the 69th anniversary of Rockne's death, a group of five Notre Dame seniors invited Bob Davie to join them in Kansas. They had been making the trip to Kansas since they had been freshman.
"They have a ceremony where each one of them would talk to Knute and they would say what he meant to them and what he meant to Notre Dame, and how the tradition continues," Davie said. "Then it was my turn."
So what did the current Notre Dame football coach and the heir to Rockne's legacy have to say?
"I said, `Why'd you have to make these expectations so high?" Davie said.
And that's exactly what Rockne did for Notre Dame. He raised the bar and he changed what is expected of Notre Dame football seasons. As Davie himself said, 5-7 seasons aren't acceptable by Notre Dame standards: "Knute, I know you can hear me, and I apologize about that," he said last year.
Davie has a special memento of the Rockne crash site. "[Heathman] came by and brought me glass - actual glass - from the windshield of Rockne's crash," he said. "That shows you what this place is, tradition wise."
Seventy years ago, a simple plane fell from the sky, carrying one pilot, six passengers, and a Notre Dame football coach. Seventy years ago, a legend was found lying on the ground, a rosary in his pocket. Seventy years ago, one man died.
His spirit survived.
Posted on 22 April 2001
Summoned earlier this week to his parents' hotel room during spring break in St. Petersburg, Fla., Indianapolis Pike point guard Chris Thomas sensed something serious had surfaced.
Thomas could think of no reason why he and three close friends, who had a room of their own, would need to muster up an avalanche of excuses.
Thomas' interest was further piqued when he walked in and saw a stern look sweep over the face of his father, Frank, a former high school basketball star in Fort Wayne. Nearby his mother, Tammy, said nothing while a young brother and sister also sat in silence.
"Congratulations," Frank Thomas said to his oldest son, "you've been named Indiana Mr. Basketball 2001."
There were cheers. Hugs. Some hooting and hollering. But there was little celebration by Thomas, a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder already set to start next season for the University of Notre Dame.
"Growing up, I was always prepared for it," Thomas said of the award, made official late Saturday evening. "I've always been molded around being a Mr. Basketball one day. I was prepared for it."
Thomas has had a few days to let the honor settle in. Rather than dwell on what it meant to join the likes of Bryce Drew, Jared Jeffries and Luke Recker, all past winners, Thomas thought of all the time he spent alone in the gym. How he spent hours working on his ball-handling. His outside shot. His vertical leap. His overall approach to the game.
"This is the final chapter of my high school career," said Thomas, who won two state championships at Pike while finishing 11th on the state's all-time scoring list with 2,156 points. "This sums up all the hard work that I've done since I was a little kid."
Thomas will be the first Mr. Basketball to enroll at Notre Dame since 1988 when the Irish landed LaPhonso Ellis out of East St. Louis, Ill.
Thomas closed his senior season by averaging 23 points per game for a Pike squad that cruised past Penn in late March for another state championship. When Thomas has the ball, he carries a certain sense about him that says, "I can score whenever and however I want."
Thomas also made sure to get others involved.
"He truly understands the team concept," said Perry Meridian High School coach Mark Barnhizer, driven nuts the last few years trying to find ways to stop Thomas. "Chris just asserts himself whenever and wherever he's needed. He's a great kid."
A quality person
Even before Thomas pulled on his red and white Pike uniform, he was a celebrity. Prior to his freshman year, one in which he would serve as sixth man on the Red Devils' championship squad, Thomas was honored at age 14 as the National AAU Basketball Player of the Year. He also was featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd."
Thomas' freshman season at Pike coincided with Steve Stocker's first year as the school's assistant athletic director. Wanting to get to know some of the school's student-athletes, Stocker often dropped by to visit with kids during open gym sessions.
"I remember seeing him play and thinking, 'Good, Lord, the guy's already been in Sports Illustrated,'" Stocker said. "Everybody knew about him, but he was still friendly and mature enough to come up to me and say, 'Hi, I'm Chris Thomas. You must be our new athletic director.'
"He's just a very neat kid."
One whose actions each day remind everyone that he's more than just a quality basketball player.
Thomas does not limit his high school associations to his buddies on the basketball team. He'll drop by some of Pike's baseball games. He'll watch girls basketball and softball.
"He's pretty special," Stocker said. "If you ask who he hangs out with, it would be just about everyone."
That includes Milton, a physically-challenged Pike senior. An academically-gifted student who needs assistance to write his name, Milton has trouble speaking. He moves slowly and awkwardly through the hallways during passing periods. He often finds more empty seats than occupied ones near him in the cafeteria at lunch time.
Yet he considers the school's star basketball player a friend. Thomas would help walk Milton to class, make sure he had someone to share some stories with during lunch and even introduced him to a group of girls who could not, or did not, know how to approach him.
Prior to every Pike basketball game this season, Milton would tell Thomas that he'd try his best to be in the stands that night. Thomas knew that was unlikely. Too much effort was required just to get through a regular school day, but Milton was always there with words of encouragement.
"I knew he would never come to a game, but he would always wish me good luck," Thomas said. "Just for him saying that he would try meant so much."
Regardless of what other athletes in such a premier position might say, Thomas considers himself a role model. Always has. That's why dealing with the expectations and pressures that come with being Mr. Basketball fail to faze him.
"I just try to help people who aren't in the situation that I'm in," he said. "You try to make others feel they're just as special because they are.
"I don't want people to be my friend just because I'm Mr. Basketball. I don't like that."
The next level
Since leading Pike to the state championship, it's been one constant road trip for Thomas. Following spring break in Florida, Thomas moved on to Chicago this weekend. On Monday, he'll compete in the Sonny Vaccaro/EA Sports Roundball Classic at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.
It will be Thomas' second and final postseason all-star game. He competed in the McDonald's All-Star game on March 28 where he scored 11 points with four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
"I'm exhausted," Thomas said. "I'm ready to take a couple weeks off."
An honors student at Pike, Thomas hopes to get a jump on his college courses by taking classes this summer at Notre Dame and plans to study architecture.
Once basketball season commences in mid-October, Thomas will be asked to quarterback a veteran team that believes it can go deep into the NCAA Tournament next March. If anyone is prepared for the position, it's Thomas.
"He's mature beyond his years," said head coach Mike Brey. "Sometimes when I get off the phone with him I think I'm talking to a junior in college.''
Having arrived at Notre Dame some two months after Thomas committed to the Irish, Brey knew little of what he could do on the court. Less than a week into his tenure, Brey scouted Thomas at an AAU Tournament in Augusta, Ga.
What impressed Brey most was not what he saw but what he heard from coaching colleagues like Virginia's Pete Gillen.
"You watch one game and you think, 'This (kid) is really special,'" Brey said. "When other guys in the business would come by and go, 'Oh, man. That kid can play.' you felt even better."
Barnhizer, who has sent his share of kids on to Division I basketball programs, believes Thomas can succeed as a freshman.
"He's what they need -- a quick guard who can penetrate and do a lot of things," he said. "He's the real deal.
"The thing that I'm most happy about is that we don't have to face him again."
Posted on 22 April 2001:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The national champion Notre Dame women's basketball team now has been honored by the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Sens. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar on Friday introduced a bipartisan resolution in the Senate to honor the team's victory over Purdue last Sunday in the NCAA tournament.
The resolution passed by unanimous consent Friday afternoon.
"This remarkable group of young women have taken their place in Notre Dame's long and storied tradition of academic and athletic excellence," Bayh said. "The determination and commitment of both the Fighting Irish and the Boilermakers exemplifies our Hoosier values and serves as a tremendous source of pride for the state of Indiana."
"The women's basketball players of Notre Dame offer an example of dedication, skill and sportsmanship as they bring Notre Dame its first national basketball title," Lugar said.
U.S. Rep. Tim Roemer, D-South Bend, has sent a letter to President Bush requesting a special White House ceremony to honor the Notre Dame team. No word has been received yet regarding whether such a ceremony will occur.
Posted on 8 April 2001:
It was a firecracker moment lit by the fuse of emotion.
A few hours after the first women's national basketball championship won by a Notre Dame team, the players and coaches of the official traveling party met with thousands of close friends in the university family.
The setting was the old traffic circle outside the Morris Inn on campus.
At the same spot where ND football coach Dan Devine once danced a jig on top of a TV camera truck ... where another Irish football coach, Ara Parseghian, was lionized after a national championship ... where men's basketball coach Digger Phelps touched down with his Final Four team ... the newest member of the pantheon of Irish moments stepped from their university bus and onto campus soil, and so into campus history.
Years from now, the crowd will have grown to 10 times what it was, as folks claim they were there when the champs came home again.
It was that magical.
It wasn't exactly clear whether they had flown home from St. Louis on the wings of emotions, but the important thing was, shortly after 2 a.m., they were home at last.
The crowd of mostly students and faculty, alerted by campuswide e-mail, welcomed them. Part of the family of the community was represented by parents and young children.
A band of student bagpipers entertained the crowd before the buses arrived. Some students took to racing down the driveway, one carrying another on his shoulders, trailing a homemade banner.
The crowd swelled as dorms emptied and the arrival anticipation grew.
Flash cameras and portable recording devices, backlit by the lights of television cameras and the strobes of a firetruck, froze the moment forever.
Players held aloft hot-off-the-press Monday editions of The Tribune, a new historical document to be kept in their scrapbooks. All scrambled to a portable stage on one arc of the circle.
Coach Muffet McGraw led -- who else would guide the team? -- and the players followed.
Small children cheered the loudest. Hurriedly drawn signs welcomed the champions. Most were aimed at Rooooth Riley. Two proposed marriage, and one asked her to be a date at a campus formal.
Some signage was emblazoned upon bare skin. The 20-something temperature did not dissuade the 20-something bodies from exposure. One group of daring males stood side by side to spell out a message that this team of classmates was No. 1 in America.
On a night when ND stood for No Doubt, no one objected.
McGraw grabbed a bullhorn and told the crowd she had many goals in mind when she started coaching here 14 seasons ago. One was to fill the Joyce Center, and that goal had been reached with the first upset of Big East Conference rival UConn.
"But this," she told the throng, "this is absolutely the best moment of all."
Homecomings are supposed to be that way.
Senior co-captains Niele Ivey and Riley also addressed the crowd.
Ivey explained she didn't usually need a megaphone, but she had lost her voice celebrating in St. Louis.
Riley thanked the students and seemed genuinely amazed when the pep band played the William Tell Overture and the crowd quickly took up the familiar Rooooth chant at every downbeat.
One team member took a leap of faith off the stage, into the crowd like a mosh pit. She was well-received and gently returned to her laughing teammates on stage.
The third senior starter, Kelley Siemon, gathered the team in a circle. It had become a habit for this team to do so at the start of each game. "Cue the band," Siemon said. Someone did. An Irish jig was played, and the team danced its pregame ritual circle dance one last time as the crowd roared.
Then the Alma Mater was played and a hushed rendition of the song was offered to the stars and to this moment on this night, everyone linking arms and gently swaying as the song was sung. To be done properly these days, the voices are raised as the song ends and everyone points to the sky with the No. 1 finger raised.
The team slowly moved through the crowd, back to the bus. Everyone reached to touch the national championship trophy, to touch history.
It was nearly 3 a.m. In a few more moments, this team would dissolve, never to be a traveling party again.
In all, five seniors step away.
But for this precious gathering, they were more college students meshed with other college students than players on the grand national stage they had just dominated.
The whisps of time encompassed and froze them.
Home at last.
Posted on 8 April 2001:
Niele Ivey climbed off the bus, onto a platform and held the NCAA Championship trophy high in the air.
Everyone exploded into cheers.
"This moment passes anything I've ever experienced in my entire life," said head coach Muffet McGraw.
More than 2,500 students and supports lined Notre Dame Avenue to welcome the women's basketball team back to campus.
"You've been supportive all year," McGraw said as the crowd chanted, "We're No. 1! We're No.1!" Pointing to the trophy, she shouted, "We brought it home!"
Due to a flight problem, the team bus didn't arrive to the Main Circle until 2:30 a.m., one hour later than estimated. However, despite the cold weather, nobody left the rally early.
"We won the national championship," said Mark Trandel. "They deserve to be supported."
As the team bus drove up Notre Dame Avenue, led by a police escort, students waved their hands in the air and chanted, "Here come the Irish." When the bus finally stopped and the Irish got off, they ran around the crowd giving supporters high-fives on their way to a platform erected by the Notre Dame Security Police.
"We've got nothing but love for you," said Ruth Riley.
Riley was clearly a crowd favorite at the gathering. When the band played the 1812 Overture, the students chanted "Ruth, Ruth" over and over. Riley just laughed.
At least three students held aloft signs asking the star center to to marry them.
"[Riley's] pretty hot, and she will make a lot of money next year," said Jeff Raedy, who was carrying around a sign that read "Ruth, will you marry me?"
Many students realized how special it was to see a national championship team.
"This has gotta be a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Nick Setta. "There's no way I would miss it. It's great just to be a part of this."
For senior Jaime Glasser, it was just great to be able to witness a national championship team while she was a student.
"It's been the only national championship in our four years," she said. "It was a great game and a great season."
Her friend Katie Wood agreed. "They worked hard and they deserved it," she said.
The atmosphere at Notre Dame was much different than Purdue, where riot police had to use tear gas on out of control students. In South Bend, the only disturbance reporterd was a couch being burned on North Quad.
Instead, the festive, joyous atmosphere around the main circle was a fitting homecoming for the Irish.
"To see all these people out here, it's phenominal," said Pete Monenaro.
"I've been coming to women's basketball games since I was in third grade" said Christa Gray. "There's more people here now than there were at some of those home games. This is awesome."
Local television crews walked around the crowd getting footage. Everytime a cameraman shined a light on a particular section of the crowd, students went crazy. Throughout the evening, many supporters did 68 pushups - one for every point the Irish scored in their victory over Purdue.
The players clearly had a good time in front of the students, although as Ericka Haney joked, "We don't know what to do, so do you have any questions?"
Ivey crowdsurfed for about 30 seconds, and Riley asked the Notre Dame band if they would play the Irish Jig.
And as they do before every game, the Irish huddled together and did the Irish Jig for one last time.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect season.
Posted on 8 April 2001:
It was a half hour before game time, and something unusual was happening.
In dorms across the campus, students were already securing their seats on the couches, a spectacle usually reserved for away football games.
One by one, televisions were switched over to ESPN for the women's basketball national championship game.
In small groups of three to five, people slowly trickled into LaFortune and gathered around one of four televisions. By the time the game started, about 800 students were packed into the student center to watch Notre Dame take on Purdue.
Student Activities set up a 12-by-14 foot screen in the LaFortune Ballroom, where most of the students watched the game. But directly underneath the Ballroom, students pulled couches and chairs around the two big screen televisions and piled as close to the television as possible. Further down the hallway, some students had homework spread out over the tables as they watched the game.
"It's fun to watch it in an environment like this," said freshman Brendan O'Connor. "It's almost like being at the game."
Many students wore shirts with "Beat Purdue" written across their chests. The shirts, originally distributed for the regular season game against Purdue before winter break, found a second life Sunday night.
The ESPN telecast began, and fans in the upstairs LaFortune Ballroom cheered when the women's basketball team huddled around the free throw line to perform the Irish Jig. When the starting lineups were announced, the loudest cheers were for Irish head coach Muffet McGraw.
"This is going to be a great game," said one student.
But as the Irish fell behind by 12 points, everyone grew a little anxious.
7:53 left in the first half
Ruth Riley was fouled as she drove to the basket. The ball bounced on the rim and finally fell through, pulling the Irish to within three points. The crowd immediately shouted the loudest of the night so far.
By now, the few students who had brought homework had put it away in their backpacks.
"I can't get anything done, it's just too loud," one student told her friend.
"We're not playing too well, but I'm not discouraged yet," O'Connor said. After all, the Irish were only down six points - they had trailed by 16 against Connecticut and still rallied to win by 15.
Some students stood up to head to Burger King or Tomassito's to grab some food before the second half started. But most stayed where they were, apparently afraid of losing their seat to someone standing in the back.
17:01 left in the second half
Kelley Siemon hit a short five-foot jumper to give the Irish their first lead of the evening, and Notre Dame fans stood up and celebrated.
But the lead was short lived as Purdue rattled off eight unanswered points to retake the lead. Purdue's surge didn't shake the faith of the Irish faithful.
"I know we're going to win, I just know it," one particular student said.
8:49 left in the second half
Riley hit a jumper, was fouled, and sunk the ensuing free throw - to the delight of those watching in South Bend.
"You can't handle the Ruth!" one student sitting near the television shouted.
4:00 left in the second half
Alicia Ratay drilled Notre Dame's first - and only - 3-pointer of the night to tie the game at 62. As she shot the ball, students stood up, raised their hands, and exploded when the ball sailed through the net. It prompted foot-stomping in the Ballroom that could be heard down below on the first floor.
"This is the most nerve-racking experience of my life," said Brianne McNicholas.
"It's so exciting," added Tara Dane. "Words can't describe it."
5.8 seconds left in the second half
The Player of the Year stood on the free-throw line with the scored tied at 66. She calmly shot the ball into the air, and as it swished through the net, the LaFortune Ballroom broke out into cheers.
"I've never cared about women's basketball before in my life, and I have goose bumps," said freshman Adam Miglore.
"This is as close to being religious as I get," freshman Dan Brunner said.
When the Purdue timeout was over, Riley stepped back up to the free throw line and scored her 28th point of the night.
Across LaFortune, those gathered in attendance stood on their feet or climbed on top of chairs to get a clear glimpse of the television as Purdue drove down the court with one final chance to tie the game.
The Boilermakers passed the ball around to their All-American, Kelly Douglas, who took an off-balance jumper from 15 feet away.
The shot came up short.
LaFortune exploded into cheers.
Notre Dame had won the national championship.
As Niele Ivey raced over to her teammates, arms in the air, students in Notre Dame high-fived each other and shouted hysterically.
"We're national champs! We're national champs!" several students shouted.
The cheering continued for several minutes, and didn't subside until television cameras showed McGraw hugging University President Edward Malloy.
As ESPN showed replays of Purdue's final possession, a few students began to sing the Fight Song. Soon, everyone in LaFortune ballroom was singing as loud as they could.
Fittingly, the final words to the song were "Onward to victory."
Posted on 25 March 2001:
Generations has collected millions of dollars for financial aid at Notre Dame. This is a wonderful thing. But has the Notre Dame administration ever considered that part of the reason there is such a need for financial aid at Notre Dame is because tuition is so high?
Wednesday, University President Father Edward Malloy announced that tuition would increase 4.9 percent next school year. This is the smallest percent increase in tuition since 1959.
Why does Notre Dame need to increase tuition? With millions of dollars rolling into the University, why does Malloy need even more money?
The 4.9 percent increase in tuition means that a Notre Dame education will cost $30,530. Last year, Notre Dame required $29,100 per year to attend. That's an increase of $1,430.
In 1999-2000, tuition was $27,660. With a 5.2 percent hike in tuition, Notre Dame raised tuition $1,440. So that .3 percent drop in tuition increase amounted to $10 less dollars in tuition increase. $10. Thanks Malloy, that will really save my parents a lot money.
Good news Mom and Dad, Monk is screwing you over $10 less this year.
The 2000 enrollment numbers have not been released but last year, there were 8,014 undergraduates at Notre Dame. Assuming that there are about the same number of students attending Notre Dame, that 4.9 percent tuition increase will mean $11,460,020 more for the University. Eleven million dollars is a lot of money ... until you look at the endowment.
Notre DameUs endowment is currently at $3.5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Assuming that Notre Dame has a bunch of trained monkeys investing the endowment and can only earn 1 percent interest, Notre Dame is still earning $35 million a year in interest on the endowment. Since the Notre Dame business office is obviously more competent than a bunch of trained monkeys, it is probably getting more than a 1 percent return on the endowment.
But let's just assume they can only earn $35 million a year, if Notre Dame applied that interest to eliminating the increase in tuition, that would still leave them with $23.5 million in interest alone.
Twenty-three million in interest on the endowment without increasing tuition.
I understand that the endowment should be used to help the future of the University, but this is ridiculous. Notre Dame costs more that $30,000. I am willing to bet that many staff members at Notre Dame do not earn $30,000 a year. If Notre Dame doesn't do something about the escalating tuition, there will be no future University for the endowment to help. No one will be able to afford to go here.
Increasing financial aid is a noble pursuit, but why not eliminate the need for financial aid. The higher Notre Dame tuition climbs, the less affordable Notre Dame becomes. The less affordable Notre Dame becomes, the more financial aid will be required.
So freeze tuition. Use some of the interest on the endowment to keep tuition down.
But for now, I guess my parents will be happy with the $10 they are "saving" this year. Maybe they can use that to pay for food, clothing, transportation and shelter.
Posted on Feb. 25, 2001
University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh had just been named rector of Farley Hall in the fall of 1948 when he received a phone call from an irate woman, the mother of one of his residents in the newly-built residence hall.
"I got a call from a lady who said she was calling from New Orleans and her son lived in Farley Hall," said Hesburgh. "She then said to me, 'I understand you have a nigger living in that hall. Is this true?' I told her that yes, we had a black student living in Farley Hall and he was just as much a student as her son, was here legitimately and was staying here."
Hesburgh's answer was not what the woman wanted to hear. At that time in Farley Hall, Hesburgh had 333 men living in the dorm, only one of whom was black.
The woman gave Hesburgh an ultimatum. She told him that he was to kick the black student out of the dorm by the next morning and if he didn't, put her son on the next plane back to New Orleans.
The next morning came and the woman's son was on a plane headed towards New Orleans where he enrolled in Tulane University and went on to become a doctor. Hesburgh talked to the woman's son in the years after the incident.
"He [the woman's son] told me that making him leave the University because there was a black student living in a dorm with him was the biggest mistake his mother ever made," said Hesburgh.
Despite resistance from some and mandated segregation in the South, Notre Dame's policy was one of the more progressive when it came to attempting to integrate the University.
In 1947, Frazier Thompson became the first black student to graduate from Notre Dame. A member of the Navy, Thompson was encouraged by vice president of Academic Affairs Father Kenna to return to the University to get his degree after completing his service in World War II, said Hesburgh.
Having worked in civil rights previously, upon becoming the executive vice president of Notre Dame in 1949, Hesburgh continued to push to integrate the University.
"We talked and said it was a shame that we hadn't had many black students, professors, or even maintenance people at the University," said Hesburgh. "I wanted to see blacks as well as whites at the University."
With Hesburgh and others' urging, the University opened up completely to blacks. Still, with options such as predominantly black colleges available to black students, few chose to attend Notre Dame.
"Everything opened up at once, including the athletic teams," said Hesburgh. "Yet I can understand that blacks may not have felt welcome here because they saw it was pretty much all white and that may have affected the number who chose to attend the University. I can see how it would have been kind of a lonely path and it would require a lot of courage."
For Clarence Hodges who graduated from the University with a degree in education in 1955 and a master's degree in 1957, it didn't matter that Notre Dame was an overwhelmingly white University, because proximity to his home in Michigan was a priority. Attending another college that could have promised more diversity wasn't an option.
Hodges served in the U.S. military from 1940 to 1943 and through the GI Bill, which enabled veterans to get a college education, decided to use the funds from the entitlement to attend the University. With a wife, five kids, and a full-time job at a factory in Michigan, Hodges was not a traditional college student.
"I only lived 20 minutes from Notre Dame and my time to use the money from the GI Bill was running out so I came over to talk to one of the Fathers at Notre Dame and he suggested I apply and enroll at the University," said Hodges.
Being one of only three black students on campus didn't bother Hodges. In fact, race had never been something that affected him.
"I've never had any kind of internal feelings about the race issue," said Hodges. "I was born and raised in Arkansas where we had separate schools but all of my playmates were white. The only difference was that when people walked by we had to pretend like we didn't like each other because everything was segregated at that time."
Hodges attributed the lack of racism he saw at the University to the Catholic nature of the institution.
"I would have never gone to Indiana University of South Bend," said Hodges. "But I knew Notre Dame was a Catholic university and that the Fathers wouldn't take any foolishness and wouldn't tolerate racism. There was no feeling of differences whatsoever when I was at Notre Dame.
"I was just another Notre Dame student. Notre Dame was just different. I never heard anything of any racial discussion while I was there. I think people had other things to think about, like getting their work for class done."
Being "just another Notre Dame student" meant that Hodges had all of his classes in the Main Building, went to church on campus frequently (although he said he never could keep up with all the Hail Mary's), studied, and attended football games.
Yet even though the University was integrated, that didn't mean that black and white students were interacting.
In his free time, Hodges would go to the Huddle to play pool. Other students would gather there to play also.
"I was older than those boys to begin with and I know they came from well-to-do families but I did my best to integrate the pool tables," said Hodges. "I would go down there and play pool on all the different tables so if someone wanted to play pool, they had to play with me. I helped them to integrate."
After being a teacher for 40 years and receiving a master's degree in education from Michigan State, Hodges is still in love with Notre Dame.
"Notre Dame is an educational setting that is just different from everywhere else," he said, comparing his experience at the University to his time at Michigan State. "If there is any one thing that I like about Notre Dame it is that it is a Christian university. I haven't run across anything that comes remotely close to being a Christian university like Notre Dame. If I could do it all again, I'd still come to Notre Dame. I'm in love with the University."
Hodges still returns to the University for football games, particularly the years when the Irish play Michigan State.
"I love to come to those games," said Hodges. "It's not even a question of who I cheer for though. Definitely not the Spartans. Once you are a Notre Dame fan, you're always a Notre Dame fan."
When Ben Finley arrived to begin his freshman year at Notre Dame in 1956, he was one of only 25 black students on campus. For Finley, this was nothing new. Born and raised in New York City, he attended high school at All Hollow's Institute where in a class of 56 students, he was one of two black students.
"I was used to being a grain of pepper in a sea of salt," said Finley, who graduated in 1960 with a degree in electrical engineering.
However, Notre Dame was not Finley's first choice.
"I initially applied to Notre Dame to keep the Brothers [who ran his high school] off my back," said Finley. "I didn't want to go to an all-male institution and I wanted the coed experience."
In the end, Finley was left to decide between the University of Colorado and Notre Dame. His decision to attend Notre Dame was not the most orthodox.
"The only thing left on the table was the University of Colorado and Notre Dame so I asked my girlfriend at the time where she thought I should go and she said she would rather tell her friends I went to Notre Dame so I chose Notre Dame," he said.
In general, Finley said that with very few exceptions, he experienced very little overt racism. But one of those exceptions came the first weekend Finley was at Notre Dame.
"During freshman orientation, I was down by one of the lakes sitting on the dock with one of my dormmates," he said. "What happened next was that he used the 'n' word and I just punched him in the face. We ended up in the lake and no one tried to break us up. And that was the last time that that happened."
For Finley, college proved to be a continuation of high school and he remained a "grain of pepper" along with the 24 other black students at Notre Dame, who became a close-knit group.
"Every night after dinner we would meet in someone's dorm room for about two hours maintaining our ethnic identity," said Finley. "We would just talk and make plans for the weekend and then after that, we left to go back into the sea of salt. We were very close and if you asked me today, I could tell you where each of them is right now."
During the time Finley was at Notre Dame, the Civil Rights movement was in full swing. As a whole, Finley said he wouldn't describe the student body at that time as being unprejudiced. As more students on campus began to become a part of the Civil Rights movement through campus organizations, Finley found himself being one of only 25 black students in the role of teacher fielding questions from confused white students.
"Being one of 25 black students provided me with many opportunities to explain to white people at the University 'why are you making our Negroes unhappy?'" said Finley.
This was a common question he was asked by his white classmates.
"It was not unusual during that time for guys, especially those from the South to come to my room and talk about race issues," said Finley. "They were racist but they had been raised racist and for them, this was probably the first time that they had interfaced with black students one-on-one.
"We [Finley and the other black students] were there to teach, whether we wanted to or not, and explain to these guys why folks in the South were conducting these civil rights marches."
An Uphill Struggle
While both Hesburgh and Finley acknowledge that the University has made strides in attracting and retaining black students, both said there is still a long way to go.
"Today, there is no question that we spend much time trying to get black students to come to Notre Dame," said Hesburgh. "We have white students coming out of our ears applying here. If you are black, Protestant, and a person who has grown up in the city, the thought of packing up and going to South Bend is not the most appealing thing on earth. It takes having a number of people from a group here for those students to feel comfortable.
"Every year we get a few more black students but it has required enormous amounts of scholarship money. But I must say that the admissions office has done a great job. We are making more progress every year."
The efforts of the Black Alumni of Notre Dame (BAND), a subcommittee of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, have been instrumental in recruiting black students. In addition, BAND has gone to great lengths to interact with black students on campus.
"In all honesty, Notre Dame has made huge strides in recruitment and while much is yet to be accomplished, the University should be congratulated for its accomplishments," said Finley.
Finley said that the University needs to actively recruit more students in general in order to recruit more black students.
"In Notre Dame's mindset, we don't need to recruit students and we don't need to sell the place to people because they'll still get their 10,000 applicants from well-qualified people," said Finley. "A different tactic needs to be taken. We need more of a marketing pitch as opposed to an informational pitch."
Posted on 25 February 2001
Members of the Saint Mary's and Notre Dame administrations voiced concerns regarding an article in the March issue of Cosmopolitan magazine that hit stands Wednesday detailing the alleged rape of a Saint Mary's student by a Notre Dame student.
The article titled "Danger in the Dorm" detailed the story of Saint Mary's junior Sarah Alter who said she was raped her freshman year on Saint Mary's campus.
Although the article portrayed Alter's story, members of the College and University administration felt their side of the story got lost in the final cut of the article.
"I spent an hour talking to Carol Huang [the article's author] and she chose not to use our information," said Bill Kirk, assistant vice president of Student Affairs at Notre Dame. "I did not think it was a terribly fair article."
Melanie Engler of the Saint Mary's public relations office agreed.
Engler said she thought the story did more harm than good and said she was concerned that both campus' administrations were talked to and not quoted. The article was "irresponsible journalism," she said, because once it has been published, many people can read it and it is nearly impossible for members of the administration to counteract damage that may have been done by the article.
"You can write letters to the editor or send e-mails to the reporter but who is to say that the same people that read that magazine will read the other with the retraction statement," said Engler.
The idea that nothing can be done about the Cosmopolitan article concerns people in administration. According to people in the Residence Life office at Saint Mary's, there is a specific procedure that is followed in assault cases. A procedure that many feel was not touched upon in the Cosmopolitan article.
"If a student wants to report the assault to security they can and security performs an investigation," said Dana North, director of Residence Life at Saint Mary's. "From there a student can choose to prosecute. But we are here as a support system for the student."
Though not able to talk specifically about Alter's case, Linda Timm, Saint Mary's vice president of Student Affairs and Mary DePauw, director of Career and Counseling at Saint Mary's discussed the procedure of rape cases.
Timm and DePauw said officials from the office of Student Affairs encourage students to report any case of sexual assault. Along with encouraging a student to come, the office gives guidelines that are followed when such an assault case is known.
"When we are notified of an assault we put the campus on alert," said Timm.
Knowing her story hit newsstands on Wednesday, Alter said she did not tell her story to make her rape only a Saint Mary's and Notre Dame issue.
She said that she told her story to break the silence of rape victims everywhere, not just to draw attention to the need for adjusting the rape and assault policies at Saint Mary's and Notre Dame.
"I know there is a lot of negative feedback out there but if my story can relate to someone in Oklahoma and help them come forward, then that's good," said Alter.
Posted on Feb. 18, 2001:
Former Notre Dame football defensive lineman Chris Zorich's aggressive, relentless playing style struck fear into the hearts of opponents from 1987-1990.
The three-time All American and 1990 captain's impressive resume includes a national championship ring, a Lombardi trophy, and the NFL Man of the Year award.
In an age where athletes routinely find themselves in trouble with the law, Zorich instead chose to use his notoriety and financial success to serve the community through the Christopher Zorich Foundation. He currently attends Notre Dame Law School, and recently sat down with fellow classmate and Observer college football analyst Peyton Berg.
Q: You participated in some of Notre Dame's biggest games such as the 31-30 victory over top-ranked Miami. What was your biggest victory?
A: I don't watch the old games much, but the things I remember are situations in games more than the final score. I remember the fights against Miami and USC. I remember the first game I started against Michigan in 1988. I was a 265-pound sophomore going up against first-team All American center John Ritali.
I went offside about three times, but got eleven tackles. I remember thinking 'wow, this is fun!' It was a real turning point for me as an athlete. It was the first time that I ever had a chance to play in front of so many people.
The pep rally, sleeping in the hotel the night before, the whole experience for me was awesome. If you talk to players, they'll talk about the situations more than the games.
Q: Lou Holtz has worked miracles at South Carolina. Can you describe for us his ability to lead and motivate?
A: Actually, I had the wonderful opportunity to go down there for a couple games this year. As a player, being in that environment, and as a spectator, it's two totally different things. You can change his hat and change "ND" to "USC," but he says the same stuff and talks about the same things.
We were laughing because he was telling them the exact same stuff he told us fifteen years ago. But, it works. Those guys believe in him. Having Tony Rice and me come down there and hang out with them, they know that we won a national championship because we listened to them. They're saying, hey, if we listen to this crazy, short, lispy guy, he'll take us to the Promised Land. If you look at the year before, they didn't win any games. He did the same thing here as he's doing there, taking his teams to a bowl game in only his second year.
He knows how to build a team and take people who may not be the best at their position and find somewhere where they can be a leader. He sent his starting tailback home for disciplinary reasons before the bowl game this year.
I was mad that no one mentioned in 1988 when he sent starters Ricky Watters and Tony Rice home before our game at No. 2 USC. That fused our team - no one could beat us, not even the Chicago Bears. The reason why was because you can either go home and cry or rally around each other.
I would have taken a bullet for anybody on that squad that day. It's amazing because the same thing happened, and they were unbeatable that day too. The reason why he's successful is because he uses a lot of psychological tricks.
He would call me into his office and tell me that the opposing coach that week said that I was short and overrated. I would go out and have an unbelievable game. One year, Air Force painted their visiting locker room pink. He came in and was furious. He knew about it beforehand, but we didn't.
He told the managers to get ten gallons of black paint, and after we kick their butts, we'll paint this locker room black! We went out there and beat them and came in screaming "where's the paint?" He said "Guys, I thought about it during the game, and that's just not the Notre Dame way."
He gets paid $60,000 per speech, so he knows what he's talking about. He is a master motivator. That's what I think Coach Davie lacks. Holtz taught us not just about football, but about life.
He had an acronym WIN: What's Important Now. What was important now was a good practice, not a national championship. He broke it down to that level. We were focussed on practices when we were 11-0 and about to play for the national championship.
Q: In 2000, the football team had success despite some key injuries. In your opinion, what's the current state of Notre Dame football? Can Coach Davie win a national championship here?
A: I personally don't think we should have been in the BCS Bowl. They knew Notre Dame would have a bunch of folks down there or watching on TV, and it's all about money.
They almost got beat by Air Force this year, and we're supposed to be better than Air Force. The Fiesta Bowl loss should be plenty of motivation for Nebraska next year.
Q: What do you think this team needs to add to become legitimate national championship contenders next year?
A: When we would go on the field, we expected to win. I think that's what lacks now. They're going out on the field to hopefully win and try hard, versus we were going to win. No doubt about it.
You can say that's cocky, but when you have confidence in every position on the field, you know you're going to win. Rocket, Stonebreaker, Todd Lyght, me, at every position we were terrific. You have some great players here, but I think they lack a winning attitude. You can't teach that. If you could bottle it up, coaches would give it to every guy on the team.
I remember our practices, we would get in fights all the time. I wanted to hit Ricky Watters as hard as I could. It was something that we just had.
Q: During your NFL career, you created the Christopher Zorich Foundation. What is it about, what have you been able to accomplish, and what are your future goals?
A: I started it because I grew up in a situation where I really didn't have a lot. The first thing I wanted to do was give somebody the opportunity to attend Notre Dame on a scholarship. I wanted to send some kids to school.
I didn't realize what went into starting a foundation. I sat down with my lawyer who was a 1991 Notre Dame Law School graduate. We set up an endowment and put together a plan. It really snowballed.
The first thing we did was load 97 turkeys into the back of my truck and distribute them in my old neighborhood. Since then, we've assisted 75,000 people. We have five programs: scholarships, food, we deliver flowers to women in shelters, School is Cool, and Holiday From the Heart, similar to your Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. It has really grown.
A lot of times we'll come into a situation, and have the resources to assist people. I like to say we're a broker: we get needy folks on one end, and people that want to help on the other. It gives me an opportunity to live in two worlds; one where people don't have much like me for the first 21 years of my life, and one where nine hours later I'm at a table with CEOs and the Mayor of Chicago. It blows me away. I helped walk kids to school through gang-infested neighborhoods, and it saddened me because they literally feared for their lives. I want to bring these worlds together, I'm talking job employment in the future. We are a grass roots organization, and a lot of times I'm writing letters and faxing things. What's great is that we have a great corps of volunteers.
What I'm trying to get across to people is that you don' t need to have money or success to start a foundation. You can do other things. If there's a gift that you have, whether it's sewing, cooking, or financial planning, I know many poor folks who are in dire need of financial planning.
Understand what service is. It's not about writing a check, although that's what some organizations need to keep the lights on. But, the most valuable thing that we all have is time.
If you can give an hour a week to people who can benefit from your gift, then why not do that. It's frustrating, my first year here; I wanted to go home. I spent the first year of my life dirt poor, living on $250 per month. Then, I got involved in sports, and you remember what's going on with less fortunate people.
I have a website, www.chriszorich.org, if anyone wants more information.
Q: After your NFL career, you returned to Notre Dame as a law student. Why law school?
A: I ran into a lot of problems about being taken seriously. I was walking into meetings as this professional athlete who gives back to the community, and nothing else. I care about a lot of issues, and when I was speaking out about issues such as race, racial profiling or sexism, nobody cared.
I then would feed 1500 people, and I had cameras everywhere. I'd go on interviews and people would say "Chris, you're a football player, just stick to playing football." I was offended by that. If much is given to you, you have to do much for others. I played seven years in the NFL and have my foundation, but I feel like I have a lot more left in me. I want to help people.
By cornering me as a jock-does-good-in-the-hood, it really irritated me. You're only expected to do or know a certain amount when you're an athlete. They wouldn't take me seriously on other issues. In order to affect change, I needed to either do my foundation full time, or make and create laws. The law is an extremely powerful thing. The law affects every facet of life, and is the best tool to affect change.
It gives me a certain level of credibility to have a law degree from a great school. However, the most important reason why I came to law school is to set an example to the kids.
Where I came from, kids wanted to be either a professional athlete or a drug dealer. The drugs were easy; seven year-old kids could make $100 looking for police cars in the area.
If you come from an area like I did, I want to show them that you can achieve things outside of your immediate environment. When you're given more options, that's wonderful. Three percent of all attorneys in the United States are black.
These kids don't have the option. If you have the chance to see people from your neighborhood succeed beyond a basketball or football court, it becomes real. I have been banned from talking to football teams because I tell the kids that they have a better chance of winning $50 million in the lotto than they do of becoming a professional athlete. Be realistic, don't "be like Mike."
Q: How about after law school? What are your future plans?
A: I want to deal with real people and real problems. I don't want to help corporations, I want to help someone who has been evicted, needs a divorce, or needs a will. I don't want to be defined as just a football player or just a lawyer. If I'm ever defined as being just a football player, than I haven't worked hard enough. If you look at [Former Minnesota Vikings hall of famer and current Minnesota State Supreme Court Justice] Alan Page, you look at a person who is at the top of his game, a Renaissance man. I want to use the weapon of law to affect change. In order to affect change, you're going to have to think about politics.
You need a voice and you need power. Politics is an option. Right now, Chicago will be my starting point where I open up my own little general law practice. I have the freedom because I don't have debt like other students.
Q: You don't fit the profile of an average law student. Do you find it difficult to learn and interact with younger students who have vastly different life experiences and backgrounds?
A: We have a lot of classmates that haven't paid bills before. If you can take a couple years off to live, I would definitely encourage it.
It's a rough situation, though, where you want to go back to school but you have a nice car and all this nice stuff, or married with a kid, and it just doesn't happen.
I really think, though, that you need to go out for a couple years before you come back. You get folks who think what happens in the book is like law.
It doesn't work like that. I have nothing against them, but it's two totally different experiences. You can't blame them because they don't have the experiences that you have.
Q: Do you consider yourself a role model?
A: I would never consider myself a role model, I would never say that. I don't want to necessarily say, "Hey, follow me," because I've done some bad things in my life. If you look at me as an example because I overcame some things, that's fine.
You tend to say that if you're a celebrity or an athlete, than people should look up to you. That's wrong. It should be your parents, folks in your community, church, or wherever you find people who want to help others.
Posted on 11 February 2001:
Thoughts while hoping that, with any luck at all, within weeks the X in XFL will stand for X-tinction ...
Hard to blame conference commissioners for re-examining Notre Dame's entry requirements into the Bowl Championship Series at meetings this week in Austin, Texas.
Losing 41-9 to Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl -- and it wasn't that close -- makes it harder to justify the argument that the BCS and ABC cannot thrive without N.D.
Published reports stated that the commissioners discussed tightening the qualification standards so Notre Dame must win nine games and finish in the Top 10 instead of the Top 12 -- the current standard.
That's a significant distinction because the Irish were ranked 11th in the BCS poll after the last regular-season game.
One story even characterized athletic director Kevin White as "vociferous'' in his opposition to limiting Notre Dame's BCS access any further.
White, reached on his cell-phone Friday, downplayed that portrayal and described the discussions at the BCS meetings as preliminary and similar to those at previous gatherings. He chose to let Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford, the BCS chairman who was unavailable Friday, serve as the group's official spokesman.
Even so, it would have been fun to hear Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese's dialogue during the Notre Dame part of the discussion.
After all, Notre Dame denied the Big East a chance to divide the $13 million Fiesta Bowl payoff among league members by getting the invitation instead of a more worthy Virginia Tech team. Yet Tranghese also will be the first to extol the virtues, not to mention the value, Notre Dame brings to the league in its other sports.
As they used to say on those Lite beer commercials, he feels strongly both ways.
* * *
He might just be an 18-year-old prone to exaggeration. But comments made by high school football player Nic Costa about recent recruiting weekends at Purdue and Notre Dame should merit a further look by both programs.
Costa, one of the nation's most sought-after quarterbacks from Aloha High School in Oregon, basically ruled out Purdue and Notre Dame because of what he considered excessive partying during his campus visits.
In an edition of The Oregonian this week, Costa called Notre Dame "the No. 1 binge-drinking school in the country.''
At Purdue, Costa says he sipped soft drinks while accompanying Purdue players on binges that lasted until 4 a.m., including to several bars where he saw Boiler players drinking for free.
"I don't drink. I don't do drugs," said Costa, a 3.7 student who committed to the University of Arizona. "I have to be true to my body. If you want to be the best athlete or student that you can possibly be, you can't drink on a Friday and Saturday night and forget the whole weekend and start up on Monday.
"You go through all those movies and you see what college football is all about, movies like 'The Program,'" Costa added in the Oregonian story. "And everything you can imagine happens at Purdue. If you imagine the girls, if you imagine the drinking ... Everything happens there. It was a wake-up call to see that that's what it was like."
Neither Joe Tiller nor Bob Davie can comment on any high school prospect until after national signing day Wednesday, and chances are all coaches will say Costa's experience may be an exception to the rule.
Truth is, showing recruits a good time is as much a college football tradition for players as homecoming, and occasionally it can get out of hand.
Either Costa's two weekends in Indiana did just that, or he simply prefers the quiet life.
It would seem university officials at Purdue and Notre Dame might want to know which of those possibilities is the truth.
Posted on 11 February 2001:
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Nineteen high school seniors signed national letters of intent today with plans to enroll at the University of Notre Dame in August 2000 and play for the Irish football squad.
The nineteen players come from 12 states -- Florida (2), Georgia (2), New Jersey (2), New York (2), Minnesota (2), Illinois (2), Indiana, Virginia, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Alabama, and Washington.
As listed by position, the Irish add to their roster three offensive linemen, three running backs, two inside linebackers, two outside linebackers, two tight ends, two wide receivers, two defensive linemen, two cornerbacks and a safety -- though many of the players played multiple positions in high school and could move to other spots once they arrive on campus.
Among the 19 players are three members of the Parade All-America team -- tight end Mark LeVoir (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and offensive linemen Zach Giles (Marshfield, Mass.) and Dan Stevenson (Barrington, Ill.).
Also on the list are:
One member of the USA Today prep All-America first team (LeVoir) and two members of the second team (inside linebacker Corey Mays from Chicago, Ill., and Giles).
Four players rated among the top 100 nationally by the Chicago Sun-Times -- LeVoir (27th), Mays (54th), Giles (89th) and Stevenson (95th).
Two players rated among the top 100 prospects nationally by the Dallas Morning News -- Giles and LeVoir.
Two players rated the player of the year in their state by USA Today -- Giles (Massachusetts) and running back Ryan Grant (New Jersey).
Two players rated among the top 50 on the CNNSI.com list of top national prospects -- Grant (43rd) and LeVoir (46th).
Among the 19 are nine players who attended the Notre Dame football camp in the summer of 2000 -- defensive lineman Brian Beidatsch (Milwaukee, Wis.), Giles, LeVoir, Mays, outside linebacker Rashon Powers-Neal (St. Paul, Minn.), tight end Matt Root (Tallahassee, Fla.), wide receiver Matt Shelton (Collierville, Tenn.), defensive lineman Jeff Thompson (Granger, Ind.) and running back Marcus Wilson (Staten Island, N.Y.).
2001 University of Notre Dame Football National Letter-of-Intent Signees
|Beidatsch, Brian||DL||6-4||265||Milwaukee, WI||(Marquette)|
|Bolen, Lionel||CB||6-1||185||Westhampton, NJ||(Rancocas Valley)|
|Burrell, Quentin||S||6-1||185||Decatur, GA||(Southwest DeKalb)|
|Campbell, Carlos||WR||6-1||190||Hampton, VA||(Hampton)|
|Ellick, Dwight||CB||5-11||170||Tampa, FL||(Wharton)|
|Giles, Zachary||OL||6-4||285||Marshfield, MA||(Marshfield)|
|Grant, Ryan||RB||6-1||198||Nyack, NY||(Don Bosco Prep)|
|Hoyte, Brandon||ILB||6-0||219||Parlin, NJ||(Sayreville War Memorial)|
|Jones, Cory||RB||6-2||215||Seattle, WA||(Kennedy)|
|LeVoir, Mark||TE||6-7||310||Eden Prairie, MN||(Eden Prairie)|
|Mays, Corey||ILB||6-1||234||Chicago, IL||(Morgan Park)|
|Mitchell, Darin||OL||6-4||285||Jonesboro, GA||(Lovejoy)|
|Powers-Neal, Rashon||OLB||6-3||215||St. Paul, MN||(Cretin-Derham)|
|Root, Matt||TE||6-6||225||Tallahassee, FL||(North Florida Christian)|
|Shelton, Matt||WR||6-1||170||Collierville, TN||(Collierville)|
|Stevenson, Dan||OL||6-5||300||Barrington, IL||(Barrington)|
|Thompson, Jeff||DL||6-5||265||Granger, IN||(Penn)|
|Tuck, Justin||OLB||6-5||215||Kellyton, AL||(Central Coosa County)|
|Wilson, Marcus||RB||5-11||180||Staten Island, NY||(Poly Prep)|
Posted on 11 February 2001:
SOUTH BEND -- Two faxes stood between reserved optimism and unbridled enthusiasm.
Those faxes never came.
Turning back the clock a year, Notre Dame football coach Bob Davie recalled the almost giddy feeling that came with the national signing day news of quarterback Carlyle Holiday's commitment to the Irish program.
When defensive end Shaun Cody (Southern Cal) and tailback Lydell Ross (Ohio State) signed elsewhere Wednesday, the emotion was much different.
"You put so much work into it,'' Davie said. "You get to the point where you've done all that you can do. I am excited about this class. What I feel now, I'm just excited about getting back to this football team.''
A third fax, one anticipated since July, also did not arrive Wednesday.
Aldo De La Garza, an offensive lineman from New Braunfels, Texas, has yet to satisfy academic requirements to enter Notre Dame.
His coach, Rick Rhoades, told the San Antonio Express News he expects De La Garza to sign soon. NCAA rules prohibit Davie from commenting on unsigned recruits.
Davie and his staff did secure signatures from 19 prep players from across the country, with a definite emphasis on defense.
While last year's crop was focused on quarterback, this year's incoming class looks especially solid at linebacker. Corey Mays, Brandon Hoyte, Rashon Powers-Neal, and Justin Tuck all are quality linebackers who possess speed along with aggressiveness.
"Last year, we signed some big linebackers -- Jason Sapp, Derek Curry, Jerome Collins -- big, physical linebackers that some day may be defensive linemen,'' Davie said. "This year, we wanted to go out and get speed linebackers and we did that.''
Speed was a priority throughout the recruiting process. Davie admitted the devastating 41-9 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oregon State had a profound impact on the approach he and his staff had toward player selection.
"After the Fiesta Bowl, the No. 1 question's going to be, 'Do we have enough speed on this team?''' Davie said. "(The loss) would have to impact recruiting. This thing happened so early. These kids are making their commitments on visits ... It's kind of what happens now. We may be getting ahead of ourselves, but what I'm so excited about next year's recruiting is what solid foundation we're on right now.
"If you think back a year ago, when you're setting the foundation for this recruiting class, we're coming off the Sports Illustrated article (that talked about the problems at Notre Dame); we had lost our last four games of the season; there was a lot of speculation about a lot of things; we had just had an NCAA decision come down. That impacted recruiting much more than the positives or negatives of the season.
"Where we are now compared to where we were last year is night and day. You'll see the rewards of that next recruiting season. (The recruiting process) happens so much faster now. That's one thing that has changed in recruiting. The impact of the season isn't as great as what the impact is between now and May when you go out recruiting.''
Another recruiting tool that has developed has been the summer football camp. Nine of the 19 Irish signees attended Notre Dame's camp.
Like the example of the linebackers, Davie talks about recruiting in two-year increments. Last year, the Irish were top-heavy in quarterbacks and receivers. This year, they brought in a solid group of offensive linemen in Dan Stevenson, Zach Giles, Darin Mitchell and Mark LeVoir, who is listed as a tight end, but already at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, is a likely candidate to play tackle. De La Garza would round out that group.
Even without Cody, Davie felt good about defensive line recruits Brian Beidatsch and Penn High School's Jeff Thompson.
"How many football players in this group can help us next year?'' Davie asked. "I don't know how realistic that is when you look at offense-defense. I think because of the speed of this class and its versatility, they can help us in special teams.
"We're past the stage where we were a few years ago where we were bringing freshmen in and saying, 'You need to be productive for us right away.' We've got this thing back on firm foundation.''
Even if the smiles weren't as wide as they were last year.
Posted on 4 February 2001:
What can you give a man that has said mass within a mile of the South Pole and broken the world speed record aboard an SR-71?
The United States Navy responded to the challenge by giving Father Theodore Hesburgh the opportunity to travel aboard the USS Portsmouth, a nuclear submarine.
He accepted, and from Jan. 16, when the boat departed from San Diego, Cal., until Jan. 22, when it arrived at Pearl Harbor, the hatch was closed and Hesburgh never saw the sun.
"It's just like getting into a dark cave. There's no communication with the outside world," said Hesburgh.
After leaving San Diego, the boat submerged to 500 feet and occasionally dropped to 700 feet, but, according to Hesburgh, it never rose to less than 60 feet and that was only to receive satellite commands.
"A new president was inaugurated while we were in there, but we were totally cut off from the world."
In addition to the roughly 130 crew members aboard the submarine, Hesburgh's brother who is a naval officer, and Pat Casey, the commander of Notre Dame's ROTC program accompanied him on the trip.
The three of them slept in bunks that were stacked on top of one another. Hesburgh described the beds as "the size of a child's coffin. You had to get in sideways and you couldn't really sit up or even bend without hitting your head. You had to be fairly acrobatic to even get in, but we all slept well."
Not only were the sleeping conditions small, Hesburgh said, "The quarters were so tight you had to turn sideways to pass someone. And there were a lot of ladders."
Despite the closeness, Hesburgh described the meals aboard the submarine as "terrific. We never had a duplicate meal. They have to do something for those guys; they can be under as long as three months."
In addition to saying mass everyday and hearing confessions, Hesburgh was granted unlimited access to the entire submarine.
"We saw everything on that ship; there were no restrictions. Normally, the whole engineering space is out of bounds to anybody except naval officers. They said we could go anywhere and we did," the former University President said.
One thing that struck Hesburgh was the quality of the officers and crew aboard the boat. Instead of a 24-hour day, the schedule on board was 18 hours long, allowing them six hours to sleep, six hours to work and six hours to eat and relax. Instead of unwinding, however, the members of the crew studied maneuvers during their free time.
Comprised of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, "The crew was a very good slice of America," he said.
Mostly in their 20s and 30s, he believes about half are married.
"It's tough on families," he said. "There's no communication for long amounts of time."
There was one thing that particularly surprised Hesburgh during his trip. "Having spent considerable time on board naval ships, I know the language gets pretty rough," he said. "I was very surprised; I only heard one very mild cuss word the entire week."