(The Rock Report | Notre Dame Football News) – I was heading through the airport Monday morning and noticed CNBC on the television. The commentators were talking about the Irish and business. I just smiled as it’s obvious the cycle I media storm is under way. Whether it’s Gameday at Notre Dame, featured network night time slots, high ratings (Saturday’s Stanford game was the highest rated game of the day), Sports Illustrated covers, Manti for Heisman, etc… it’s clear that Notre Dame is now in the “resurrection phase” of the media cycle (as identified by Bacchus years ago when NDNation was still Irishtalk/The Pub.)
It’s easy to look at the current media barrage and forget that just a few years ago, not just pundits, but Notre Dame itself was questioning Notre Dame’s relevance and considering decisions that were short-sighted at best. I often spent more time writing about branding, false-choices, independence and leadership than football. A look through the old file reminded me never to forget the fight. So many articles written about something that should have been so simple.
- Define Who You Are
- What Has Notre Dame’s Football Tradition Meant to you..
- A Coffin of Thine Own Making: False Choices
- Choose Independence
- Never Accept Mediocrity
- Cheer, Cheer (but not too loud)
- Tailgating Gestapo Gone Bonkers
- Chasing Greatness
- First, Do No Harm
- Charlie, Leadership and the Secret Sauce
- Let Them Eat Steak
Why did this happen? Misplaced priorities.
Because priorities sometimes become skewed under outside and internal pressure, Notre Dame must continually look to what it values within when confronted with misleading labels and not shy away from the challenge nor be afraid to hold itself up as different.
To remind us all not to forget how far we’ve come, just a few years back Kevin White called Notre Dame a “junior partner” in the BCS and negotiated a BCS deal predicated mostly on future mediocre performance, there was endless talk of Notre Dame being “forced” into a conference, still more talk of ways to milk the Golden Goose of Notre Dame football for money pervaded every conversation and there was excuse making that Notre Dame could no longer compete. Notre Dame seemed to have bought into “media cycle III”, that Notre Dame could no longer compete and had to take was was offered. Vultures, like the B1G commissioner Jim Delaney, pressed the issue making many feel as if Notre Dame had to act or be “left out.”
What absolute crap that was.
But it’s important to remember not to forget that the bull-hockey will return (or as my Dad once said in true Yogi Berra fashion “I forgot to remember that.”) As Kabong noted in Double Edged Sword, after the “resurrection” cycle plays out the news cycle will inevitably turn (if ND keeps winning) to the next phase, which is “Notre Dame Sold It’s Soul for Football Glory”. This isn’t a “maybe”, it’s inevitable if Notre Dame continues to win and the leadership must be prepared for the consequences and think through the responses and the positioning now.
In the past, Notre Dame has, at times, shrunk from the attention football has received rather than embrace it. Whether it was Father Hesburgh with Leahy or Monk and Holtz, Notre Dame at times wore the football glory crown uneasily, caving into the wine and cheese crowd that believed not only that football and academic excellence were mutually exclusive, but that success in one was somehow an indication of a de-prioritization of the other.
If the football resurgence continues, Notre Dame must prepare itself for the inevitable onslaught of criticism around the point that Notre Dame has (yet again) “sold it’s soul” that will follow and this time not shrink from the challenge, but embrace it with pride and point out that not only are the two not mutually exclusive, but more powerful together.
Notre Dame has to remember how close it was to feeling “forced” into a conference, how uneasy the AD’s office was about scheduling and a feeling of impotence about whether Notre Dame would still be able to remain apart of the BCS conversation.
Notre Dame has to remember the power of now so as never to give that power away again and ensure that football, responsibility and academic excellence are always viewed as reinforcing, lest the powers that be forget and be forced to relearn old lessons or worse, lose herself as many of us feared just a few years back when Notre Dame seemed on the verge of negotiating away it’s future out of weakness.
“What a terrible lesson that would be for our youth. If that happens Notre Dame will become just another fable… and a 100 years of winning that inspired millions to strive for excellence will become a cautionary tale of what happens when poor leadership inherits a legacy.”
It must remember not to forget.